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Tubewalker: The Tube, on Foot

Northern Line: East Finchley to Mill Hill East and High Barnet

A London Loop sign in Barnet
On the London Loop in Barnet

After yesterday's soaking, the weather has turned more pleasant, with sunny intervals being the order of the day (it only drizzled on me once, and that was only for ten minutes or so). I'm sorry to keep banging on about the weather, but it makes such a difference, especially out on the further reaches of the Tube, where there's at least a small chance of coming across mud and wet grass. Weather-wise, today was a considerable relief.

East Finchley to Finchley Central

The Phoenix Cinema
The Phoenix Cinema

Heading north from East Finchley station, it's an enjoyable jaunt along the High Road; the traffic isn't too crazy, the range of shops is good and the pavements are very wide. This clearly isn't central London, where space is at a premium, and the area is neatly summed up by the Phoenix Cinema, the oldest purpose-built cinema in the UK. Opening in 1910 as the East Finchley Picturedrome, the cinema is Grade II listed, due to its original 1910 barrel-vaulted ceiling and 1938 Mollo and Egan decorative wall panels.

A mausoleum in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery
A mausoleum in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery
Finchley Fire Station
Finchley Fire Station

Finchley Central to Mill Hill East

A bridge over the Dollis Brook
A bridge over the Dollis Brook

The spur from Finchley Central to Mill Hill East is, like the Metropolitan line spur from Chalfont & Latimer to Chesham, operated as a back-and-forth shuttle for most of the day. The original 1935 plan for this part of the network was to take the existing LNER line from Finsbury Park to Edgware and tack the western section onto the Northern line, thus joining Finchley Road to Edgware via Mill Hill East and Mill Hill (The Hale); however, this was put on hold by the arrival of the Second World War, and only the section from Finchley Road to Mill Hill East was opened, to serve the barracks at the latter. The rest of the LNER line was never electrified and the tracks are now gone, leaving the Mill Hill East spur as a bit of an anomaly, but it makes for a sleepy and rather rural walk, which is always welcome.

The clubhouse of Finchley Golf Course
The clubhouse of Finchley Golf Course

Finchley Central to West Finchley

The western entrance to Victoria Park
The western entrance to Victoria Park

Taking the shuttle back to Finchley Central, I wandered through yet more pleasant but unremarkable suburbia to Victoria Park, a landscaped park that hosts the annual Finchley Carnival, a large fun fair that has been held here since 1905. On the other side of the park is the striking red spire of Finchley Methodist Church, and tucked away behind the church are some lovely little detached houses and larger Mock Tudor mansions that are in contrast to the more modern blocks along Ballards Lane. The houses down Essex Park are slightly less imposing, though this is clearly still a desirable place to live.

West Finchley to Woodside Park

The Dollis Brook
The Dollis Brook

At the end of Fursby Avenue we come across the Dollis Brook again, our companion almost to the end of the line in High Barnet. The pavement of the Dollis Valley Greenwalk follows the brook through pleasant strips of parkland, though as the trees lining the walk obscure pretty much all of the suburbia around, it does feel rather cut off from the rest of the world. When the sun comes out, it's a lovely little walk, and because you're blindly following a paved path, you just can't get lost; it makes a nice change from hoofing round the City, turning left or right every few minutes.

Woodside Park to Totteridge & Whetstone

Along the Dollis Brook Greenway
Along the Dollis Brook Greenway

The Dollis Brook Greenway continues north of Argyle Road, though the path is a little scrubbier and less paved for the initial section. It does pick up again, though, and it makes for a very enjoyable walk through lots of small meadows, all the way to Totteridge Lane. This part is a bit wilder than the previous section (and, indeed, the next section), and although it's rather more constricted than the other parts, it has a slightly more rural feeling because it's been left to look after itself.

Totteridge & Whetstone to High Barnet

Meadows to the east of High Barnet station along the London Loop
Meadows to the east of High Barnet station along the London Loop

The final stretch to High Barnet again follows the Dollis Brook Greenway, though this section is more of a motorway than a walking path, with two parallel tarmac paths, one for cyclists (on the left) and one for walkers; don't pick the wrong one, or you won't make any friends. This is Brook Farm Open Space, an area that used to be used for growing hay, but which is now an enjoyable sequence of meadows that follow the line of the brook northwards.

High Barnet station
High Barnet station