London Diary –Spring into Summer! (1)

May 21, 2016

London is as wonderful as the rest of the country in cultivating and keeping up its network of foot paths. Moreover, Transport for London sponsors free guided walks three weekends a year, Winter Wander in January, Spring into Summer in May and Autumn Amble in October. See the following link for details and sign up:

Having missed Winter Wander in Jan due to a bad cold, I was very happy when the invitation for Spring into Summer came, which falls on this very weekend. The number and variety of walks available are impressive and all seem interesting to me. At the end I settled on a couple of them, High Barnett to Cockfoster for Saturday and Twin Peaks of the Capital Ring for Sunday.

The weather had been sunny most of the week, but it had to turn cloudy this morning, typical London weather for you. Despite that and the sprinkle during the walk, it turned out a great experience.

High Barnett to Cockfoster are two areas far north of London and took 90 and 60 minutes for us to travel to and from respectively. Once the Tube is out of central London, it is out of the underground tunnels and as it gets even further out, you can see large parking lots attached to the stops, the park and ride system for long distance commuters.

Looking for lunch before the walk, we ended up at Red Lion, a pub on High Street of High Barnett. Interestingly, it serves buffet. There is a Carvery where a chef serves by slicing off the roast of your choice, which can be any combination of pork, beef, gammon (ham) and turkey. Next to Carvery station are side dishes, gravy and sauces that you help yourselves to. On top of all that, there is the Yorkshire Pudding which the chef simply calls “Yorkshire” and serves you one only if you want it. Side dishes are stuffing, peas, green bean, red cabbage, carrots, mash potatoes, fried/roasted potatoes and roasted squash.

After some waffling, I decide to try. I chose beef and gammon, which were surprisingly good. Green beans and red cabbage were average but I loved the roasted squash. All those packed in this traditional, hearty English meal and came with a surprisingly low price tag of about £6.50. For another £1.50, you can switch up to a “King” size, I guess you get more meat with that. Interestingly many there were elderly customers. Among the younger customers, a few got their plates piled up quite high.

After lunch, we met up with a group of about 30 walkers at High Barnett Tube station, our guide Paul, and his wife cum assistant of the walk, Jeanette, who was from the French Alps. With a brief introduction, Paul commenced the “walk and talk”. It was a nice route to walk and Paul’s “talk” made it more interesting.

A quick walk through a residential area, we arrived at the first stop, one of those wooden gates that locals call kissing gate. It marks the entering of a natural area, and Paul took advantage of the opportunity to make a friendly banter, aiming at the young couple who were newly engaged, a white women and a black man.

It took a little climb to reach the hill top of Hadley Manor Field, once there though, you get a nice view. The field is also known as the field where Battle of Barnett took place. Across the field is Haley Green. After passing another kissing gate, this time, existing the natural area, we arrived at Monken Hadley, which is a pretty Georgian village with connection to Anthony Trollope and David Livingston, and home to many footballers.

Have you seen the movie Lady in the Van? I saw it on one of my long international flights. Guess what/who I ran into? Sitting on curb of the street between Alms House and village church was this interesting, albeit peculiar, van, across the street from it was a large elegant house in its high brick wall and wrought iron gate. Interesting van and interesting spot for it to park.

Hadley Common is on the outskirt of the village, at the end there is a little stone bridge and a vast fishing pond hidden in the wood. The walk ended shortly after that and near Cockfoster Road and Trent Park.

It was a great time exploring this part of London. Paul set a good pace and Jeanette was in the back making sure no one was left behind. Along the way, there was verdant green around, lots pretty little wild flowers and a variety of flowering trees bursting with colors, abundant of Hawthorns and Horse Chestnut trees in particular, plus a few California Lilac, Gorse, and many others that I could not name.

At the end of the walk was The Cock Inn, a nice pub where we took a nice break, hot tea with sticky toffee pudding for me, beer and sweet potato fried for my hubby. Happy ending to a great walk.