more stations

(about 2 miles)
Wander along the route
of the steam railway line 
which once went from 
Mill Hill to Edgware.

When you arrive at pretty Mill Hill East Tube station walk to the end of the only platform to see the red stop light on the track that disappears into the distance. Trains to Edgware used to run from here, but the line was axed in 1964. Part of the suggested trail follows the bed of the old railway, a pathway having been created where trains once trundled. It was originally intended that the track, having been electrified,  should extend to Bushey, but WW2 intervened and Green Belt legislation finally knocked the plan on the head. The complex history of the incomplete line can be read here. Nowadays  Mill Hill East is a somewhat eccentric backwater, as you can see from the photo. 

To get to the ghost line turn left on leaving the station, and take the second left down Sanders Lane. When you reach some trees there is a waymark ‘Barnet Countryside Leisure Walks' on the right. If you intend to do the full circular route you need to check that this very narrow path is passable and not too muddy, as it is where you will emerge from the lower (wider) path on your return (further details below). To continue on the higher route down Sanders Lane go forward, walking over the old railway bridge. The roadway is lined with hedgerows,  making this a delightful summer wander. After about five minutes you will come to the end of the countrified part of Sanders Lane. Turn right, passing Grants Close and head for the main road (signed Devonshire Road on the left, but actually a continuation of Sanders Lane.)

Cross this road at the traffic island and make for a bridge to the right. On your left is a large area of trees and meadowland, Copthall Old Common. Descend the (steep) steps at the bridge. You will find yourself on a concrete strip which soon leads to a woodland path. Bear left, ignoring the lower route, and walk past the gate that leads into the meadowland (unless you want to explore this area). Follow the smaller track until you glimpse the golf course through the hedge (about seven minutes from the steps). Here there is a little T junction. Take the left hand way, past the golf course. Soon you will see the crumbling concrete posts which would have carried the cables for the railway if the electrification of this stretch had taken place. It is a slightly eerie feeling, seeing them half-hidden in the vegetation. When you encounter a mini crossroads with wooden fencing go straight ahead. This is a bridle path, so be on the look-out for any horse-riding activities.

The woodland path ends at a blocked-off pedestrian subway (distinctly grotty) under Page Street.  The old railway route on the other side of the road has been built over.

To complete the circular walk, retrace your steps as far as the golf club junction, but take the lower path ahead. This time you will be under the western Sanders Lane road bridge. Continue parallel to the upper path until you see the eastern Sanders Lane bridge you started from. Here go up the very narrow path on the left (this is the one you checked out at the beginning of your exploration) to road level.  Back on Sanders Lane once more, turn right for the Tube station. To avoid the narrow section you could pass through a steel gate under the old bridge, but this means negotiating a steep grassy slope adjacent to the block of flats at the junction of Sanders Lane and Brittacy Road.

NOTES You should allow about an hour for this ramble, which is not suitable for buggies. It is best to do the trail in summer when you can be sure the vegetation has been cut back.  The fact that stretches of it are used by horse riders means that young children need careful supervision.

Click on photos to enlarge.

* Although it looks from the London Underground map as if it might be difficult to get to Mill Hill East,  the shuttle train from Finchley Central is often waiting at the opposite platform. It runs every 15 minutes off-peak.
Mill Hill East 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 the 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 click on the link above to to see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!

© DR