The walk is about 7km (4 miles) long, and will take two to three hours, depending on the time spent in parks and gardens.
The walk starts from Winchmore Hill station and ends at Palmers Green Station.
All the parks and gardens are open during daylight hours and entrance is free, unless otherwise stated. The route is wheelchair accessible, except where stated.
Please be aware of your personal safety and security when walking. Use designated road crossings where possible.
This walk explores historic parks and gardens in the London Borough of Enfield, parts of which were for more than 400 years the royal hunting ground of Enfield Chase. From the 17th century onwards wealthy gentlemen built houses in Enfield and the surrounding countryside. The walk takes in the grounds of several of these country estates, which have now become public parks, where fragments of the original landscaping survive.
From Winchmore Hill station, turn right up Station Road, cross Wilson Street and walk alongside The Green to the mini-roundabout by the King's Head. Cross towards the pub and go down Church Hill. The Friends' Meeting House is about 140m down Church Hill on the right.
The Friends' Meeting House here is one of the oldest and most famous in the country. The current building of 1790 replaced the original one which dated from 1688. The crescent-shaped area in front of the Meeting House was added in 1717 to help with the turning of carriages in the road, which was once very narrow.
The burial ground to the west of the Meeting House is on the site of the property's 300-year-old walled garden. There are some gravestones in the grass immediately to the side, but the main burial area is behind the building, with simple headstones set in the grass. There are some mature trees, including two cedars, with yew and various shrubs and some flowerbeds.
Outside the Meeting House, cross Church Hill, turn right and then left into Denleigh Gardens. Continue across Branscombe Gardens to Seaforth Gardens. The Arts and Crafts-style houses here was built in the 1920s and 30s on land once part of the Laurel Cottage Estate.
At Seaforth Gardens, there is a choice of routes. For a wheelchair-friendly route or to avoid woodland paths, turn left to the top of the road, and then turn right into Broad Walk. Turn right into the park at the mini-roundabout, or alternatively turn left to visit Woodcroft Wildspace (see below).
For a walk through woodland, cross Seaforth Road at the end of Denleigh Gardens, turn right and then left into the park. Walk to the junction with the woodland path. This is what remains of the once extensive Winchmore Hill Wood. To continue through the wood, turn right, walk down through the trees and across the stream, then turn left towards the lake.
To visit Woodcroft Wildspace from here, turn left and continue bearing left, past the park office, to a junction of paths on the right. Turn left along the main path and walk up to the park gates. Cross Broad Walk into Woodcroft. The entrance is towards the end of the road on the left between numbers 28 and 30 (wheelchair access is currently limited).
Until the mid-1990s, the site was used as a sports ground. However, this use was discontinued due to poor drainage and regular flooding. With support from the Big Lottery Breathing Spaces Fund, the Friends of Woodcroft are turning the site into a local nature reserve which will feature nature trails through managed woodland, wetland, meadow and orchard areas, all of which will be designed for full disabled access. There will also be a field study centre, meeting room and café. See www.woodcroft.org.uk
Return to Grovelands Park and continue down the hill towards the lake. There is an accessible café and toilets on the left.
Grovelands Park is a late-18th-century landscape park with lake, which became a public park in 1913. Architect John Nash built Southgate Grove (1797-98) in neo-classical style for Walker Gray, a brandy merchant from Tottenham. Gray also employed landscape gardener Humphry Repton, who reputedly selected the site of the house, laid out carriage drives, gardens and pleasure grounds, and created the fine artificial lake and islands which form the main feature of the park, by damming the stream, known as 'Whappooles Bourne'. The grounds featured a walled garden, graperies and heated pits for growing pineapples, while the park was home to a herd of deer.
The estate was re-named Grovelands by John Donnithorne Taylor, who inherited in 1835. He bought as much of the surrounding land as he could to prevent other houses being built close to his own and increased the size of the estate from 250 to 600 acres. The entrance to his estate was in Alderman's Hill, and his carriage drive once extended from the house all the way to just above where Palmers Green station now stands. Much of the land was eventually sold off for development after his death in 1885, with 60 acres being preserved by Southgate Urban District Council as a public park. The house was adapted as a military hospital in World War I and is now a private psychiatric hospital.
Walk to the right, keeping the lake on your left. On the right is what remains of Winchmore Hill Wood, preserved by Southgate Urban District Council in 1913, when much of the estate was sold for housing development. Continue around the lake, past Grovelands House on the right and a small golf course on the left, to exit into The Bourne. Cross the road, turn left and take the first right, marked Ridgeway, bearing immediately right into Greenway. Walk up the road and turn right into Meadway. The ‘Tudorbethan’ houses of the Meadway estate were built in the late 1920s by Edmondson, once of the largest builders in the area. At the end of the road, turn left into High Street and continue to Southgate Green. Ye Olde Cherry Tree Inn is a former Georgian coaching inn (wheelchair access to the rear via The Mall and accessible toilets).
Southgate Green marks the old village green of the hamlet of Southgate, named because of its position as the main southern entrance to Enfield Chase. The old wooden stocks are displayed on the green near the horse trough.
To take a shortcut to Broomfield Park, turn left outside the Cherry Tree and walk down Cannon Hill, crossing Selbourne Road and Cannon Road. Cross Alderman's Hill at the traffic lights, turn left and then right into the park. Follow the path straight ahead and around the top of the park to the walled garden.
Alternatively, cross Cannon Hill at the zebra crossing and walk across the green and along Waterfall Road to Christ Church on the left. The entrance to the graveyard is a little further on the left (not wheelchair-accessible).
Christ Church was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and built in 1861-63 by the Walker family, replacing the Weld Chapel of 1615. It has windows by the pre-Raphaelite artists William Morris, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones. The small churchyard is reached through an iron gate, and is a triangular site with a holly hedge along the roadside, and a brick wall behind. It contains specimen trees, such as Corsican pine, holm oak and a notable cedar of Lebanon. There are a number of early headstones among the grass, including that of Rebecca Shrawley (d.1683) with skulls and an hourglass. The tombstone of John Donnithorne Taylor of Grovelands is here too, marked only with the initials ‘JDT’.
Turning left outside the church, continue along Waterfall Road to a gate in the wall on the right which leads to Minchenden Oak Garden. There are four shallow steps down into the garden, and the paving surface is uneven (not wheelchair-friendly).
This garden was once part of the Minchenden Estate, one of the great estates in the area, owned by the Duke of Chandos. Minchenden House, which stood on the south side of Southgate Green, was demolished in 1853 by the Walker family, and the grounds incorporated into the Arnos Grove Estate. A relic of the grounds of Minchenden House remains today in the form of the Minchenden or Chandos Oak, an ancient pollarded oak tree more than 800 years old. Thought to be a survivor of the ancient Forest of Middlesex, it was reputed in the 19th century to be the largest in England with a girth of over 27 feet. Minchenden Oak Garden was created by Southgate Borough Council as an evergreen Garden of Remembrance and opened in 1934.
Continue down Waterfall Road, crossing Morton Way and enter Arnos Park at the bottom of the hill on the left, just before the railway bridge. Follow the path through the park to the far end, keeping Pymme's Brook to your right.
Arnos Park was created in 1928 when 44 acres of wood and meadow, part of the 300-acre Arnos Grove Estate, were purchased by Southgate Urban District Council from Lord Inverforth (who had bought it in 1918), while the remainder of the estate was sold for housing development. From 1777 to 1918 the estate belonged to the Walker family, Quaker brewers and cousins of the Gray family of Grovelands. Isaac Walker ‘improved’ the grounds, creating three miles of pleasure walks. In 1884 the house was said to command ‘a view of several rich valleys, with the hills towards Finchley and Muswell Hill’. The 18th-century house, with 20th-century additions, still stands on Cannon Hill.
Leaving Arnos Park, turn left and walk up the hill. Cross Wilmer Way and turn left, crossing Dawlish Avenue. Cross Powys Lane using the traffic island and enter Broomfield Park through the gate just to the left. Take the path to the right, which leads to the walled garden.
After entering the walled garden through a gate in the wall, turn left past the herbaceous border. Turn right along the path between two lakes, then left along the front of the house. For the children's play area, turn right, otherwise continue straight on past a boating lake to the park gates leading to Alderman's Hill. Turn right and continue alongside the park, crossing the road via the traffic island to reach Palmers Green station.
Broomfield Lodge was reputedly built as a hunting lodge for James I in the 16th century, but it has been altered and expanded repeatedly over the years. A City merchant, Joseph Jackson, owned the estate by 1624, and the Powys family from 1816 to 1902. Both house and estate were improved and enlarged in the early 18th century, probably including the formal gardens to the west.
The formal garden, ponds and house are enclosed by red brick walls which date from the 16th and 18th centuries. The eastern wall, behind the remains of the house, has an early-18th-century summer house with wooden Ionic columns.
In 1902 the house and 54 acres of its grounds were purchased by Southgate Urban District Council and opened to the public in 1903. The public could swim in one of the lakes until 1911, when the council discovered that the water was polluted. The house, which became a local museum in 1925, was badly damaged by a number of fires in 1984, again in 1993 and then 1994.
Walk prepared by Sarah Jackson.
Care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information on this walk, which is offered in good faith. No responsibility can be accepted for changes that may have occurred since going to press.