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GOLDERS GREEN (Northern Line, Edgware)
A LONDON TUBE RAMBLES WALK


Golders Hill Park and The Hill Garden 
Golders Hill Park (less than ten minutes walk from the Tube station) is basically a tamed part of Hampstead Heath, and one of the loveliest parks I know. On leaving Golders Green station turn left towards the old Hippodrome. Sadly this grand building (1913) is no longer functioning as a theatre. Cross at the lights, go left, and after a few yards go right into West Hampstead Drive.

 On the corner is St. Alban & St Michael Church. This mysterious, somewhat squat building (1932-3) is in free Gothic style by Sir Giles G. Scott. Although it appears to be built of brick, underneath it is actually reinforced concrete. (Scott also designed Bankside (now Tate Modern), Battersea Power station and Liverpool cathedral. However his most familiar work is the iconic red telephone box.)The unusual church hall (1909) next to St. Giles is in Arts & Crafts style with a little turret. It was the forerunner of the present church and sets the style for the architecture of the surrounding area, whose houses have many Arts & Crafts features. I particularly like Nos. 9 and 11 West Hampstead Drive for their deliberately confused ‘Tudor’ appearance (c1910).
 At the end of the road go left and then almost immediately cross over West Heath Avenue to West Heath Road. Walk a few yards along the railings of the park to find the entrance immediately opposite Swan Pond. Take the path that goes to the right, skirting the tree-lined lake. Where the way forks go left down the narrow path that leads to the Water Garden - a delightful place to hide away from the rest of the world.
Further on is a children’s zoo (free) where there are Greater Rheas and other exotic birds to be seen – also some little Muntjac deer and ring-tailed lemurs. New animals are being added as the zoo grows. Continue to follow the path up a slight rise to find the Fallow deer enclosure. From here take the path to the left  and go towards a large willow tree. In this area you will discover formal gardens, a lily pond and a butterfly house.* Benches are dotted about in leafy alcoves and there are several attractive sculptures. 

Just beyond the upper end of the deer enclosure is one of the entrances to the park from West Heath – a great place to watch birds, find wild flowers etc. The track leading into the woods is soon bisected by Sandy Road. Go straight ahead if you want to explore the heathland, but be warned that the paths are very uneven in places. This MAP (pdf) of the Hampstead Heath area might prove useful, as it shows various walking routes and bus stops should you wish to extend your wanderings beyond West Heath.

The Hill Garden. (Please note that this route is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs or those with walking difficulties).
At the gate into the Heath mentioned above, leave the park and turn left. Walk parallel with the park for about five minutes, (ignoring the first broad track to the right), then turn right at an intersection. (You will see a seat a few yards ahead.) Bear right here and you are at the gate into The Hill Garden (pdf). Here you can potter round the lower part and then climb the steps to the pergola walk, which is raised about 15 feet above ground on classical columns, providing views of the surrounding woods and planting below. The gardens were laid out in the early part of the twentieth century by Thomas Mawson  for Lord Levershulme (Sunlight Soap magnate). The large house behind the pergola is Inverforth House, once Lord Leverhulme’s mansion (then called The Hill). It is now divided into luxury flats. The raised walkway stretches for nearly half a mile, but a couple of turnings creates an illusion of even greater length. To return a different way, retrace your steps to The Hill Garden entrance and turn left.  Pass the track you followed to get here and instead take the short narrow downward path on the right to a clearing in an undulating pine wood (you will know it's the right track because the open area is visible from the beginning of the path). This leads to some steps (take care in wet weather) and back down to the park and cafĂ©.

Golders Hill Park always looks immaculate and is a real gem for those seeking peace and quiet - but there is also plenty for children to enjoy. Much recommended.

*Usually open March to October, but best to check opening times before making a special journey.

MAP
This is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to go to wwwlondontuberambles.co.uk and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there !
© DR