Walk 4 - Fryent Country Park

Sailboat on Welsh Harp Reservoir

Fryent Country Park
Gotsford Hill
St Andrew’s Church
Welsh Harp Reservoir
Full text description(pdf, 123kb)
Route Map (pdf, 385kb)

Distance: 4.7 miles (7.5 km)
Time: Approx 2.5 hours

Kingsbury station (Jubilee line -Zone 4, or buses 79, 183, 204 or 305)

On coming out of Kingsbury station, turn right and turn right again into Valley Drive. Find the path into Fryent Country Park, which is between numbers 109 and 111A Valley Drive, and signposted from the road as 'Public footpath leading to Slough Lane'. Stop where the path opens out to reveal the Country Park ahead of you. Continue to follow the inside arc of the hedge as it veers towards the south-west. Gotfords Hill will be on your left-hand side and the hedgerow on your right.

2. After about a hundred metres, look for a gap in the hedge. Do not pass through it, but take a path on your left, through the grass, which takes you to the top of Gotsfords Hill. When the grass has been cut, this path may not be clear; in that case just aim half left to the group of trees clearly on the skyline at the top of the hill. From the summit of Gotfords Hill, head off to aim between the two large hybrid black poplar trees, and continue in the same direction, diagonally across the next small field. Go through a large gap in the hedge by a signpost, two thirds of the way along the opposite (long) side of the field. Just before the signpost is a group of dead elms, victims of Dutch elm disease. Ahead, beyond the wire fence is Bush Farm. Now, head south through the Country Park. Keep the wire fence boundary of the horse grazing field on your left and the hay meadow on your right. At the end of the horse field, beyond a seat, follow the path through the gap in the hedgerows. Straight ahead is the end of another hedgerow, with fields to the left and right. Go into the left hand field and head diagonally across to a clear gap in the hedge opposite. Pass through this gap (with more dead elm nearby) to the next field.

3. Turn right along the bottom of this field and you will soon come to Little Hillcroach Pond in the corner. Turn left alongside the pond; the path passes through another hedge and emerges into a large meadow, sloping uphill towards the woodland of Beane Hill. Follow the path on the left hand side of this field, and at the top it will pass into a path through young woodland.

4. Continue in the same direction (southwards) through the woodland for quite some distance. The deep rose flowers of great willowherb are prominent along here. Just beyond a path to the right (which should be ignored) pass between hedgerows to where the path divides. Take the left hand fork, and soon turn right to follow the path downhill, with back gardens to your left and woodland and rough grassland on your right. At the bottom of the field you will reach Fryent Way. (this may be wet in winter).

5. Turn left along Fryent Way and at the roundabout take the first turning on the left. This is Salmon Street. Almost immediately, turn right along Kingsmere Park, and at the end left along Deanscroft Avenue. This brings you to the busy Church Lane.

6. Turn right and after about a hundred and fifty metres you will be opposite the spire of St Andrew's Church. Walk through the grounds to the right of the church and into the wooded churchyard on the right, surrounding Old St. Andrew's Church. Leave the churchyard by the path running past the west end of the old church, coming out on the south side of the churchyard into Old Church Lane. Notice the difference in height between the road and the adjacent edges/hedgerow. This was an old green lane. Turn left along the lane to Birchen Grove, turn left uphill, and then right to reach the Welsh Harp Open Space.

7. Walk along the right hand of the two tarmac paths until the Brent Reservoir can be seen. Continue along this path, and shortly after the tarmac ends, take a trodden path on your right which approaches the water, close to a small pond. Continue past the pond, veering away from the reservoir and over a small bank, 20 metres past the pond. You are now in Barnet and have crossed another green lane. This is an earlier section of Wood Lane, marked on the 1597 map of the area and which once led to your right to a crossing point over the River Brent. You can still follow it to your left, if you wish. However, we will carry on east for now. The main path, a broad mown grass track, runs to Cool Oak Lane. However, it is more interesting to take a narrower, more overgrown, path close to the reservoir. It starts just beyond the short turf surrounding the pond, some five metres from the reservoir's edge. Beware, though, of ankle-twisting fissures on this path. They may be hidden by vegetation. At length you reach a small area of open oak woodland. Beyond this, the path you are on may be overgrown. If this is the case, retreat to the main path, some ten metres away to your left, until you reach the bridge at Cool Oak Lane.

8. Across the bridge (take care as it is narrow and busy), and just past the private car park, you can turn right along an enclosed footpath which reaches the water again to give some superb views down the full length of the reservoir. A little further on you can visit the bird hides. Back at Cool Oak Lane, a very pleasant final flourish to this walk is to follow the northern arm of the reservoir to reach the Edgware Road further up. To do this re-cross Cool Oak Bridge to the original side and turn right. Follow the path, which overlooks the shallow northern arm.

9. At one stage the path goes up a hill, away from the waterside; but you should keep on in the same general direction as before, through a wooded area. After emerging from this, bear right, ignoring a small path on the left. You will walk past an area of prominent wild teasels. The reservoir is still away to the right, although out of sight. Eventually emerge on to an area of mown grass at the edge of a park, with the tree-Iined water of the reservoir still to your right. Pass to the right of a clipped hedge and past the Hendon Bowling Club to reach a small car park. Continue up the road to the left of this, past a metal gate, and then straight ahead to the Edgware Road.

From here buses 32, 83, 142 or 183 will take you to such places as Cricklewood and Kilburn (32), Wembley and Alperton (83), or back to the start of the walk (183). Alternatively, to reach Hendon Thameslink station, turn right along The Broadway (Edgware Road), crossing over the Silk Stream which is one of the two main feeders of the Brent Reservoir, and take the second left (Herbert Road). The station is then about one hundred metres, on the far side of West Hendon Baptist Church. It is in Zone 4.


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