Car-free adventures aroundEnfieldNorth London
London’s most northerly borough is full of surprises. In the heart of an urban jungle, home of the world’s first ATM, you can explore flowering gardens and fresh water supplies, rich farmland and riverside walks. Here are five rural adventures on the fringes of England’s capital city…
1. Stroll along the New River
“Neither new nor a river.” People talking about the New River often repeat this phrase – it’s an aqueduct, first built in 1613 to bring drinking water to London from springs in the Hertfordshire countryside and still supplies 8% of London’s water. Now there is also a varied walking route running along the New River and through nearby suburban streets. The Victorian writer Charles Lamb recalls in his Essays of Elia that, when he was young he: “paced the vales of Amwell to explore your tributary springs, to trace your salutary waters sparkling through green Hertfordshire, and cultured Enfield parks.”
- The full 30-mile route stretches from Hertford to Islington and is surprisingly tricky to find, in places, as it can’t always run next to the water.
- There are some lovely sections of the walk close to Enfield Town station. Sample a mile of the route with a good peppering of pubs and cafés.
- Turn left out of Enfield Town station and stroll along the road, past the plaque on Barclay’s Bank, where the UK’s first cash machine opened (in 1967) and the vibrant Art Town café.
- Just after Trinity Church, turn right into the park, with the New River on your right.
- Continue along an attractive pedestrian walkway, between houses and water, soon reaching the Crown and Horseshoes pub, on a bend in the river’s former route.
- Look out for baby coots and moorhens in season, and for swans carrying their cygnets.
2. Gardens galore
Continuing north along the New River, you arrive at three lovely gardens and a beautiful stately home. The grounds of Forty Hall, a Jacobean mansion in a huge landscaped park with a great café, are circled by way-marked, wooded trails that lead past lakes and vineyards (yes, really!) You’ll see pigs and sheep in the fields and can explore a series of walled gardens at Forty Hall, Myddelton House and Capel Manor.
- The quickest way to get to all three of these hidden treasures is from Turkey Street station (overground, Zone 6).
- Simply turn right under the railway and keep straight along Turkey Street, under the main road, across the New River and another road to enter Myddleton House, which is free and beautiful.
- Capel Manor nearby has a maze of different gardens.