Start/End: Pinner Underground Station, Pinner, HA5 5LZ
Distance: 6 miles
Allow: 2 hours 15 minutes
Ascent: 150 feet
Highlights: Pinner Memorial Park, Celandine Route, Eastcote House Gardens, Ruislip Woods, View from Haste Hill, Eastcote Cricket Club.
Refreshments: The Case Is Altered is a splendid pub with both and front and back garden (mile 4 ½). Daisys in the Park is situated in Pinner Memorial Park near the end of the walk (mile 6).
From Pinner Station, head downhill towards Bridge Street. At the junction at the bottom of the hill, turn left under the railway bridge. Cross the road at the traffic island on your right and take the first right hand turning sign-posted ‘Chapel Lane car park.’ Head straight on up this road and enter the eastern entrance of Pinner Memorial Park.
As you head up the hill through the groves of sequoia trees (fig. 1), take time to admire the wooden sculpture installations on the right hand side. Installed in 2010 by the Harrow Heritage Trust, they feature platted, curled barks in the shape of butterflies mounted onto tree trunks. The scrub on the left contains blackberry and raspberry plantations, and many birds can often be seen flying in and out of the dense foliage.
Bear left where the path forks left again at the next junction, in the direction of West End Avenue. Leave the park via an alleyway, and as soon as you emerge onto the road, turn sharp right down a path shaded by pine trees, named ‘Dickson Fold’. This is a quiet, shaded neighbourhood of mostly inter-war bungalows, perfect for young families as it is in close proximity to the local primary school, West Lodge. Stroll down the path and at the bottom, turn left and follow the path around to the right. As soon as you emerge onto West End Lane (fig. 2), turn left. This is a calm suburban lane with a variety of Victorian cottages and detached houses.
At the second mini-roundabout, turn right and then immediately right again through a grey gate and into the Cuckoo Hill Allotments. The route becomes scenic at this point, with decorative vegetables and flowers in flowerbeds growing on the right and greenhouses and scarecrows featuring aplenty. Keep the River Pinn on your left. This is the ‘Celandine Route’, a 12-mile route along the Pinn that eventually leads to the Grand Union Canal at Cowley. After about half-a-mile, the path opens out into a wide field. This is Long Meadow-planted in 1981 by local young children and adults as part of a voluntary project. Note the fallen tree from a recent thunderstorm on the right, covered with nettled and brambles. Cross the field and take the footpath on the opposite side, crossing Cheney Street. Enter another field, and continue on the path into Eastcote. The road on your right is the Eastcote High Road.
After half a mile, you will see a black gate with red and white markings on it and the busy Eastcode High Road beyond. About 100 yards before this gate, turn left on a diagonal grass footpath, and cross a bridge over the River Pinn, noting the information board on your left marked ‘Celandine Route’. This leads into Eastcote House Gardens, an unspoilt area of parkland that houses a coach house, a walled garden and a dovecote.
Eastcote House itself was demolished many years ago by the Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council. The walled gardens (fig. 3) however are open to the public and are ornate, featuring many flowers and shrubs. During the reign of Henry VIII, the use of walled gardens changed from simply pleasure gardens to safe areas in which to grow crops. The gardens in Eastcote were passed to public ownership in 1936, and are now funded by the National Lottery. To enter the gardens, follow the path to the right before turning left and left again to find the gates.
Leave the walled garden on the path on which you came in and walk straight on, out of the gate. Stop to admire the coach house (fig. 4) on your right. Restored in 1932, it housed the coach and horses of the owners of Eastcote House. The dovecote is also worth a mention-formerly it provided 800 nesting places for squabs. Its presence is somehow surprising, as only Lords of the Manor were entitled to have dovecotes, and the residents of Eastcote House never held this rank.
Keep on walking westwards and just before you leave the park, turn sharp right. This path takes you in a u-turn and you leave the park opposite Joel Street. Cross High Road Eastcote with caution - this road junction is especially busy - and walk up Joel Street (opposite), crossing a white bridge over the River Pinn. Take the third-turning on your left, Wentworth Drive.
This is a quiet, uphill road of post-war residential housing that is characteristic of Northwood Hills. Follow the road to its very end and turn right onto Fore Street. This is a lively road running along the perimeter of Ruislip Woods. Take the first footpath on your left into the woods. This follows around the perimeter of Grangewood School. Follow the path as it snakes off into the woods until you reach a junction. Take the footpath on your right, and then at the next junction, head right again. After about half a mile, you emerge onto a footpath crossroads. Go straight on at this crossroads (take the third exit on your left). The path bends round to the left and starts the climb up Haste Hill, following the perimeter of the woods.
Ruislip Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It contains a range of oak and hornbeam trees. It is split up into four different woods: Bayhurst (northwest), Copse (northeast), Mad Bess (southwest) and Park (southeast), with the walk covers areas within the latter wood. The site also contains a lake, Ruislip Lido, with a public beach and a miniature railway, and a 1.2 mile cycling trail. Pheasant shooting often occurs during weekends to the north of Park Wood.
After half-a-mile, the path bears right. Keep on following the footpath and note the bridleway post that you should see on the left. The paths fork-take the path on your right. There are some muddy patches on this path so do be careful.
At the brow of the hill, keep on bearing right. You will cross over a wooden planked bridge. Follow the path with the boundary fence on your right. Behind this fence is St. Vincent’s Hospital, now a nursing home for the elderly. Founded on Roman Catholic traditions, it was always intended that the home would provide accommodation for retired priests and religious orders, and its facilities include a chapel that can accommodate 80 people.
At the next junction, take the first exit on your right, and exit the woods via a steel gate. This leads to a road with a bus turnaround point for visitors to the hospital.
Turn left into the car park and take the path on the other side. This path offers fine views over to Harrow-on-the-Hill and the iconic Wembley Stadium arch in the east. The round, cylindrical tower of Hayes Gas Building is visible in the distance to the south, in front of the shadows of the North Downs in Surrey, some 25 miles away.
Join the main footpath via the hole in the green metal railings. Turn right and walk downhill on a public footpath until you reach Wilshire Lane, a straight, downhill road leading to Joel Street. Continue straight on, for the length of this road, passing a local comprehensive school, Haydon School, on the left, which was once attended by the TV presenter Fearne Cotton.
The lane emerges onto Joel Street. Cross this road and head up the grass embankment, walking along the side of Eastcote Cricket Ground in a shady parkland area, before joining Southill Lane on your left. This lane winds downhill passed grand houses on the left, and emerges by a fine public house, The Case is Altered, with a large, outdoor seating area. Its rustic building was built on the site of a much older farmhouse in the 19th century, when it started selling Clutterbucks Beer brewed in Stanmore, and relics of the next door farm outhouses still remain alongside Southill Lane. Feel free to stop here for a cold, refreshing drink.
After leaving the pub, take the third turning on the left, Caitlins Lane. Cross this road onto the right side. As the road veers up the hill, take the path on the right, and as you approach a hedge, take the footpath through the gap in the hedge on your right into playing fields. Cross these fields and exit the parkland via a footpath running diagonally and to the left. This emerges onto Cuckoo Hill.
Turn right on Cuckoo Hill. Cross the road, and take the first turning on the left, High View, which leads back into Pinner. Walk down this impressive road shaded by towering oak trees, passing North Way on your right. As soon as you reach West End Lane, turn right again, and after a mini-roundabout, take the first turning on the left into Pinner Memorial Park. This is the recreational end of the park, and a fine café, Daisys, serves tea, coffee, milkshakes and lunchtime salads and meals. The building which it is housed in, West House, was built in the early 19th century, and now is home to a museum celebrating the works of William Heath-Robinson, a former resident of Pinner.
Walk around the left hand side of the lake, noting the aviary on your left, and continue on this downhill path towards the Chapel Lane railway bridge, passing a playground on your left.
At the bottom of the hill, exit the park onto Chapel Lane and head under a railway bridge. Turn right along Bridge Street, to the main shopping street of Pinner, and take the second turning on the left up the hill to the station to complete the walk. During the summer months, an ice-cream van is usually present at the Chapel Lane exit of Pinner Memorial Park.
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