diamond geezer

 Saturday, August 16, 2014

Today, the tale of two northwest London hilltops with very different fates.

LONDON BOROUGH TOPS
Ealing: Horsenden Hill

85 metres (20th out of 33) [map] [map]


Ealing has a proper peak. Horsenden Hill rises up steeply on all sides, the way a child would draw it, while an Ordnance Survey map displays a bullseye of concentric contours. Whichever side you arrive it's a good 100 foot climb to the top, and there are several possible ascents, which makes this a good place for an urban hike. The Capital Ring passes over the summit, and members of Horsenden Hill Golf Club climb a fair way every time they make a round. I took the golf club route - badly signposted, but nobody was out on the course so my random wander didn't get in anyone's way. [3 photos]

The hilltop's relatively flat, easily large enough for a ballgame, even if the grass isn't cut to make that entirely practical. But only if you spot the access panels would you necessarily spot the slight artificialness that conceals yet another of London's covered reservoirs beneath Horsenden's mown fa├žade. The land round the central trig point is more real, it's where an iron Age hillfort sat, and here the long grass is alive with unseen buzzy creatures. A single oak stands where the main footpaths meet, but there are considerably more trees around the southern rim blocking any hope of seeing through. Instead panoramas to north and west are what you get, which you can interpret from the information boards Ealing Council have helpfully plonked in the corner. Peer through the dead flies and grime to confirm that yes, those are the Chilterns, and that's Stanmore, and that big flat-roofed white building is the Royal Mail Distribution Centre in Perivale. Various charred piles suggest that bonfires and barbecues are popular up here, perhaps as the ideal chill-out at dusk for those that live in the avenues beneath. Thankfully Shirley Ann's wooden memorial bench hasn't gone up yet, but one fears it can only be a matter of time.

I had the plateau much to myself initially, until joined by a selfie-snapping mum who'd lugged a pushchair up the hill. Some young children wandered by like this was their summer playground, because how great would that be, and a barrage of unrelated ramblers followed. I was surprised how few of those climbing to the top stopped and lingered, especially after climbing the steeper paths from the canal - a quick pause and they were straight back down again. And then a bloke arrived with a picnic table, closely followed by three small boys carrying sports gear - the advance guard for an extended family invasion. Up they panted from the car park, barely 100 metres away direct, but far enough below to spread out the group into mountaineers and stragglers. Before long the space beneath the oak tree had become a social encampment decked out with blankets and sunshades, with Jack Daniels being poured and a variety of supermarket picnic food on display. I left them to their rounders, or whatever, and headed back down rejoicing that the house builders left Horsenden alone.
by tube: Sudbury Town   by bus: 204, 487, H17

LONDON BOROUGH TOPS
Brent: Wakemans Hill

92 metres (16th out of 33) [map] [map]


But the housebuilders got this one. A hilltop higher than Horsenden rises up from the Edgware Road in the general vicinity of Kingsbury. It's harder to see on the map, there being streets and houses everywhere, but this too is a proper hill with bullseye contours, if rather shallower on the flanks. The borough peak is on Wakemans Hill Avenue, a typically broad suburban street built when space in outer London wasn't at a premium. It's lined by white-fronted semi-detached houses topped with tiled gabled roofs, each with either a well tended front garden or more likely hardstanding for two cars. The cul-de-sacs to either side have names like Summit Close and Hillview Gardens, as a hint to what lies beneath, and there are indeed some fairly bracing views towards Colindale and Finchley as the main avenue drops away. On the brow of the hill I passed a man delivering leaflets door to door, I think for dial-up pizza, while another man out tending to his hedge almost reversed into me with a power saw. And if you're thinking it all sounds very Metroland, you'd be right, indeed this very hilltop featured in Betjeman's famous documentary. [5 photos]

It's not a long segment, slotted in between longer trips to Wembley and Harrow, but Sir John appears briefly on what looks like the battlements of a castle, only for the camera to pull back to reveal a most peculiar house. He'd come to Kingsbury to revel in the work of Ernest Trobridge, a quirky architect from the 1920s with a taste for timber-framed construction. Some of Trobridge's more cottagey homes remain in the area, for example just round the corner in Buck Lane, but his style didn't prove popular at the time and the more traditional semi-detacheds smothered the area. Betjeman picked Highfort Court for the programme, an amazing corner-site apartment block with crenellations, turret and arrowslits, accessed up a rather narrow central staircase. Across the street is a slightly lesser beast, this time with twin white towers, now partially obscured behind a lofty conifer. Even closer to the summit is Whitecastle Mansions, the name perhaps more impressive than the reality, but those who live in Trobridge's maisonettes today no doubt revel in their oddity. And OK, so Horsenden Hill has done so much better in surviving untainted, but at least the smothering of Wakemens Hill was done in style.
by tube: Kingsbury   by bus: 32, 83, 142, 183, 204, 302, 324



» 63 photos of London Borough Tops (three each, so far)
» List and map of London Borough Tops
» Previous reports: Outer NE; Inner E; Inner N, Inner NW, North


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sat 24 - Sun 25 September
Southend Charabanc
Seaside pleasure trip with arty installations linked by bus.
Part of the ESTUARY Festival.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv