Stunning views, undiscovered trails

Grimsdyke Walk

Map of Grimsdyke Walk

Start/End: Pinner Underground Station, Pinner, HA5 5LZ

Distance: 8 miles

Allow: 3 hours 30 minutes

Ascent: 310 feet

Highlights: Pinner High Street, Pinner Park Farm, Brooks Hill View, Grimsdyke Woods, Grimsdyke Hotel, Pinnerwood Farm, Blythwood Estate.

Refreshments: Grimsdyke Hotel has a fancy tearoom where you can have tea in the former drawing room of W.S. Gilbert (mile 4). The Case Is Altered (mile 4), The Oddfellow’s Arms (mile 8).


Directions:

A variety of restaurants on Pinner High StreetLeave Pinner station walking downhill on Station Approach. At the bottom of the hill, turn right on Bridge Street, and then first right again up High Street. The view up this road has not changed greatly since Elizabethan times. One of the first buildings on the right, the Victory public house (now a restaurant) is dated from 1580. Shops have been here for over a century and have been passed down through generations. Lines, a furnishings shop at number 26 (half way up on the right hand side) originally started trading in 1883 selling furnishings and ironmongery[1]. St. John the Baptist’s Church, at the top of the hill, was consecrated in 1321[2]. It is built of flint, supposedly from the local chalk mines - of which the remains of one still exists in Pinner Green-and there are some fantastic-looking tombstones in the graveyard, including one to William Loudon, raised in 1809[3].

Pinner War MemorialSpend a while in the High Street, noting the memorial to the Great War near the top of the hill, and then take the second turning on the right just before St. John the Baptist Church - Church Lane. Notice the delightful residences along this road, including Church Cottage on the right-an 18th century house redesigned in the early 19th, and Pinner House further along on the left, originally a Queen Anne house owned by the Woodbrige family, and now a senior citizens residence providing warden-assisted accomodation[4]. Pass Ingle Close on the left and take the first alleyway on the left signposted ‘Public Footpath to Moss Lane’. At the end of this alleyway, turn right into Moss Lane, and then left almost immediately into Wakehams Hill. Walk up this steep hill, passing The Squirrels on your right, and at the top of the hill just before the road bears round to the right, take the left hand path signposted-‘Public Footpath No. 53-leading to George V Avenue’. After a short distance, this path opens out into a wide field and the views extend northeastwards across George V Avenue and Hatch End and beyond, to Bushey and rural Hertfordshire.

Pinner Park open parklandWalk through the fields, following the footpath. The land belongs to Pinner Park Farm-once a 250 acre deer park, which has been a farm since the 16th century[5]. Come to a gate at the end of the field and cross George V Avenue-Pinner’s only dual carriageway road, constructed in the 1930s. Take the footpath opposite signposted ‘Public Bridleway to Headstone Lane’. This passes the barns and farm-buildings of Pinner Park Farm on the left.

London to Birmingham railway lineContinue on the road, ignoring the path behind the fence on the left. At the end of the green field, pass through a gate and onto a stony track. The London to Birmingham Mainline should be straight ahead. Cross the track and take the footpath diagonally on the right, signposted ‘Chantry Place’. This path can be overgrown at times, but it leads to a green railway bridge taking you over the six-track West Coast Mainline.

When the West Coast mainline was built in 1837, it cut across Pinner Park, leaving only a small piece of farmland on the eastern side. The footbridge marks the former exit of the park-leading to Hatch End, named after the "Hatch" or "gate" of Pinner Park[6]. Cross the bridge and then at the bottom take the third turning on the left, Headstone Lane. Walk up this road all the way to the end, where it meets the Uxbridge Road at a major roundabout. Cross the roundabout and turn right.

At the next roundabout, cross Oxhey Lane on the left and take the next footpath on the left, signposted ‘Public Footpath to Uxbridge Road-Brooks Hill’. This is an ancient pathway leading uphill, into rural wooded fields and away from the Harrow conurbation. About half-way up the hill, turn round and take a good look behind for an amazing view south westwards. The blocks of flats in Hatch End are visible over to the right. The fields of Pinner Park Farm-where we just came from, are also visible, and houses on top of Wakehams Hill-on the outskirts of Pinner-can be seen, along with Northwood Hills, Ruislip and Denham behind.

At the end of the footpath, you will see a dilapidated farm building. Turn left towards Old Redding. Upon reaching a cross roads, turn right. You will soon emerge onto a private road, Brooks Hills Drive, lined with some of the finest houses in Harrow Borough. This road comes out onto a main road, Brooks Hill. Turn left on this road, and then at the traffic lights by the Hare Restaurant, a traditional English restaurant, turn left again onto Old Redding.

This is a fast road, linking Hatch End to Stanmore and Bushey. Walk along this road for half a mile, and before you reach the Case is Altered pub, turn right at two gates positioned in front of a displayed map on a signboard. This is Grimsdyke Woods, once the grounds of W.S. Gilbert at his former residence of Grimsdyke Manor. During May and June, rhododendrons and azaleas sweeten the air around the dense forest foliage, which is predominantly made up of sycamore and maple trees[7].

Walk as far as you can to the back of the woods on the path, and then turn left, taking a path towards Grimsdyke House. You may have to make another right turn if the way ahead becomes overgrown.

The path emerges on the driveway to Grimsdyke House. Turn right, and keep to the right as you follow the path to the right of the tea-gardens and around the back of the building to the entrance of the Grimsdyke Manor Hotel.

Grimsdyke HouseGrimsdyke House was built in 1872, and was formerly the home of William Gilbert, one half of the musical writing duo Gilbert & Sullivan, who drowned in the lake here during an effort to save a fellow guest. It is now used as a hotel and restaurant-coffee, tea and scones are available to eat in the lounge and garden and make the perfect mid-walk break.

After passing the entrance on the house, turn right down a set of stone steps into the gardens, and left along a path. At the end of the gardens turn right along a path that crosses Grim’s Ditch and left at the end along a path that runs along the northern boundary of the wood. To the right is the county boundary with Hertfordshire, and on a clear day Watford with its YMCA tower can be made out in the distance. Keep Gim’s Ditch on your left.

Grimsdyke Golf CourseAt the end of the path, turn right along a gravel track, Ass House Lane, and past farm buildings on your left. This emerges onto Grimsdyke Golf Course. Follow the furthest footpath to the right at the signposts, and cross the golf course, hugging the right hand side of the fairway. This path continues into Hertfordshire and emerges at the traffic-light road junction of Oxhey Lane and Little Oxhey Lane.

Cross Oxhey Lane and walk down Little Oxhey Lane on the right hand side of the road for roughly three-quarters of a mile. Cross over the North West Mainline once again at a bridge and continue on the road for another half a mile, taking the third turning on the left after the railway bridge, Lytham Avenue.

Walk to the end of this road, a post-war residential drive characteristic of Carpenters Park, and turn right into Ilkley Road and take a footpath on the left. Bear left where the path splits and take a path through undergrowth until you reach a gate with wide open parkland beyond, marking the county boundary. It is here where you can get a good view of Harrow on the Hill in the distance, and Pinner Hill to the right.

Turn right on the path that runs along the northern boundary of the field, among tall oaks. Take the first footpath on the left, signposted Albury Drive. This path descends back towards Pinner, passing Pinnerwood Farm. Walk between the farmhouse and the barns, until the path becomes a concrete drive. Follow the path as it bears left and eventually you will emerge onto Albury Drive, an almost traffic-free road of detached houses in North Pinner.

Turn right on this road until you reach a roundabout. At the roundabout, go straight ahead, taking the second exit into Blythwood Road, a countrified road with spacious houses. Cross the Uxbridge Road at the traffic island and head straight on down Waxwell Lane. This road will lead you back to Bridge Street in Pinner, where you can turn left for the station. The Oddfellows Arms on the left hand side is ideal for a refreshing drink and a quick round of monopoly.

[1] Bartlet PJ-Pinner Local History. http://www.pjbartlett.co.uk/Pinner%20History.htm [accessed 25.07.2013]

[2] Clarke P Pinner-A Pictoral History (1994).

[3] Clarke P Pinner-A Pictoral History (1994).

[4] Pinner Association Ten Walks Around Pinner (1999).

[5] Pinner Association Ten Walks Around Pinner (1999).

[6] Pinner Association Ten Walks Around Pinner (1999).

[7] Pinner Association Ten Walks Around Pinner (1999).