Saturday 25 August 2018

The Saturday List #185 - The Top Ten Parks and public green spaces in NW7

So how well do you know Mill Hill? Don't cheat, can you name ten parks and green spaces in Mill Hill? I hadn't really thought about it, until I realised we'd walked our mutts over nine of them in the last week.  Here is a little list I've put together of the ten, with a few notes and reminiscenses. CAn you guess which one I didn't visit? (not too hard).

1. Mill Hill Park. I guess most Mill Hillians know this. My old football team, Old Hendonians played their home matches there for a few years and used the Hendon and Edgware Cricket Club clubhouse as our base. Sadly that got burned down, the council stopped looking after the pitches and we ended up at Cannons Park for my last couple of seasons. The Park has several distinct areas, a segregated kiddies park, a Pavillion and base for Mill Bowls club, Tennis courts, A small crazy golf putting range in poor repair, A cafe, a nature reserve (used to be a pitch and put course), some cricket and football pitches and the rather nice Bunns Lane annex, which is great for chilling and dog walking. There are a friends of Mill Hill Park group who work to improve the park.

Simmonds Mead circa 1950 (Pic by MHPS)
2. Simmonds Mead AKA Mill Hill Village Green. This is a small triangle of land between the A41, Lawrence Street and Uphill Road. It has a picturesque brook and some nice trees and flower beds. There have been sporadic events held on the site. I think most Mill Hillians love the site, but never really spend any time on it. Back in the 1960's the stream had a lilly pond with goldfish, which I used to love. Sadly that is long gone. In 2007 it was officially designated the Mill Hill Village Green.

3. Lyndhurst Park. This is on the Mill Hill/Burnt Oak border, next to the disused rail line between Mill Hill and Edgware. It has a small play area and is used by residents of the Deansbrook estate mainly. The railway arch under thr bridge was a popular spot for glue sniffers and teenage pot smokers in the late 1970's, which resulted in the Council bricking it up. It is quite a pretty park.

4. Woodcroft Park. This is by the Junction where Bunns Lane turns into Grahame Park Way. About half way down, on the Mill Hill/Burnt Oak border, it becomes Blundell Park. The Mill Hill section has a football pitch and a nature reserve, planted by the the councilto mark the Millenium. Parents of babies born in the year 2000 were invited to a planting. There is a Hornbeam tree planted by us for our son Matthew growing, it is now quite a fine specimen!

5. Bittacy Hill Park. This is located between Bittacy Hill and Bittacy Rise and is well used by people from the Mill Hill East area. There is a decent childrens play area, tennis courts and it is a well kept park. I'm not that familiar with the park as it's not really in my part of Mill Hill.

6. Arrendene Open Space. A favourite with dog walkers and also used by various people jogging, riding mountain bikes and riding horses, which sometimes causes a touch of conflict. The trees have been colonised by many green parakeets, which can regularly be both seen and heard. The spot is also popular for various people who enjoy late night liaisons in Mill Hill. Unlike some of the other areas these activities are largely nocturnal (possibly due to the large groups of slobbering hounds which frequent the park during daylight hours).
Picture courtesy of
7. Scratchwoods Open Space. This has a rather nice Shisha lounge, is well frequented in the summer by family groups having picnics and barbeques (currently banned due to the drought), teenagers holding illicit raves, teenagers practicing trail bike riding, dog owners who have shy or problematical dogs (as it is less busy than other open spaces) and men seeking encounters to brighten their lives up. The front area by the A1 is where the Shisha Lounge and families congregate. The woodlands to the back are where the other activities largely take place, although there are always a few chaps parked up staring out of their windscreens. There is a more or less dried up pond in the middle and a seemingly ever growing number of burnt out scooters and motor bikes. There is a massive littering problem and the park often gets closed for Iranian festivals as you are not allowed to enjoy yourself in Barnet (Iranians familes view Scratchwoods as their park of choice for festivities).

8. Moat Mount Open Space. Moat Mount is just across the A1 from Scrtchwoods. The council shut the carpark to deter the type of activities which occur at Scratchwoods and are viewed in some quarters as anti social. It has certainly deterred me from walking the dogs there. There is a lovely pond with large carp in. There are extensive woodlands and an outdoor centre offering camping, archery and other outdoor activities.

9. Darlands Lake nature reserve. Sadly Darlands Lake is now Darlands swamp, being a mudpit. it is a beautiful area between Burtonhole Lane and The Totteridge Valley. Folly Brook runs through. Until the early 1960's this was a boating lake. According to the London Ecology Unit's Nature Conservation in Barnet, published in 1997, Darland's Lake was one of seven sites identified by Barnet Council as meeting the criteria for designation as a Local Nature Reserve, and it is the only one of the seven which the Council has not designated. As we walk the reserve walk regularly, it is upsetting to see the neglect.

10. Copthall Nature reserve. Formed of the old Mill Hill East to Edgware railway and the Copthall Old Common, it is popular with walkers and enthusiats of disused railway infrastructure. There are regular railway walks and it has been listed as one of Londons top walks by the Londonist.

Click here for more info on parks and open spaces in the London Borough of Barnet.

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