diamond geezer

 Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Outer London Day Out (NW)

For the third part of my Outer London sightseeing catalogue, I'm scouring the boroughs to the north and west of the capital. Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea have nothing for us, being far too Inner, and I'm only allowing the farthest reaches of Camden to scrape in. But there's plenty of life beyond the boundaries of Zone 2, should you ever deign to venture out. Feel free to top-up my suggestion with choices of your own, so long as they're not food-, drink- or shopping-based, and are worth crossing the capital for. And remember I've blogged previously about the interesting stuff in every single London borough as part of my Random Boroughs series, indexed here.

Hammersmith: A tiny house on the Thames with connections to William Morris, 7 Hammersmith Terrace (£10, three tours each Saturday) boasts the last authentic Arts and Crafts interior in Britain. Closes for two years of renovation in June. Morris lived close by at Kelmscott House (2-5pm, Thursday & Saturday), whose basement and coach house are now a museum.
Fulham: With over 1300 years of history, Fulham Palace (noon-ish to 5pm-ish, closed Friday & Saturday) [blogged] was the riverside home of the Bishop of London. True Blues may prefer a Chelsea Stadium Tour (£17, 9.30am-5pm) at Stamford Bridge.

Greenford: The London Motorcyle Museum (£5, 10am-4.30pm, Sat & Sun) [blogged] is a converted farm building up a sideroad, packed with an endearing collection of a few hundred two-wheelers.
• Two interesting summits are Horsenden Hill [blogged], a natural hump with fine views, and Northala Fields [blogged], four artificial conical mounds sculpted from Wembley and Westfield's spoil.

Ruislip: Officially Ruislip Lido [blogged] is a 200 year-old canal-feeding reservoir. Unofficially it's London's best seaside, with scenic trails and a miniature railway around the perimeter.
Uxbridge: Accessed via a new housing estate on the site of RAF Uxbridge, the Battle of Britain Bunker (weekdays & the 3rd weekend of summer months, pre-booked tours) [blogged] was home to Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and beyond.
Hayes: There'll be a reason I've never visited the London Motor Museum (£30, 10am-6pm). Ah yes, that'll be it. Slightly cheaper prices are available online.
Harmondsworth: Described by John Betjeman as the 'Cathedral of Middlesex', Harmondsworth Great Barn (10am-5pm, 2nd Sunday of the month, April-October) [blogged] is a Grade I listed medieval treasure, over 60 metres long (and currently undergoing major maintenance).
Heathrow: Few people visit Heathrow Airport for fun but, if plane spotting's your thing, a few less-than-optimal vantage points remain.

Harrow: Forget the main town centre and head up the hill to the village atmosphere around St Mary's Church (great views!) and Harrow School [blogged]. No really, go look, it's another world. The school's Old Speech Room Gallery [blogged] is open to the public on term time weekdays (2.30pm-5pm), while the tiny Museum of Harrow Life opens on selected Sunday afternoons.
Stanmore: RAF Bentley Priory, the former headquarters of Fighter Command, is now home to the Bentley Priory Museum (£9, 10am-5pm, Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat) and dozens of newly-built luxury mansions.
Headstone: Headstone Manor, a moated dwelling, is Middlesex's oldest surviving timber framed building [blogged]. It might be open for weekend summer tours while the Great Barn is being done up this year, or it might not, the museum's website is fairly opaque on the subject.

Wembley: A Wembley Stadium Tour (£19, 10am-4pm) will take you inside the home of English football. Meanwhile it's free to walk around the outside at podium level, although the surrounding area is becoming increasingly densely-developed.
Neasden: Down the road from IKEA, the exquisite Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the largest Hindu temple outside India. Two-hour tours are offered daily (9am-6pm) [blogged].

Hampstead: The Heath is the highpoint, obviously, and must be walked. Don't miss art-filled Kenwood House (10am-5pm) near the summit, and make tracks for the utterly photogenic Hill Garden and Pergola [blogged] on West Heath. Meanwhile the 'village' between the Heath and the tube station is well worth exploring, and includes a cluster of special buildings; specifically Burgh House & Hampstead Museum (noon-5pm, not Monday, Tuesday or Saturday) [blogged], 17th century Fenton House (£6.50, not Monday or Tuesday, March-October), the inspirational Keats House (£5.50, 1-5pm, closed Mondays) [blogged] and Goldfinger's 2 Willow Road (£6, not Monday or Tuesday, 11am-4.30pm, March-October) [blogged].
Highgate: Highgate's cemeteries are must-visits, they're the dead centre of London. Karl Marx is buried in the East Cemetery (£4, 10am-4pm), while the West Cemetery is older and far more atmospheric, and accessed via guided tour only (£12, one tour on weekdays, 11am-3pm at weekends) [blogged].

Barnet: An independent survivor, Barnet Museum (2.30-4.30pm & Saturday mornings, closed Monday & Friday) [blogged] continues to showcase the borough's history from an early Georgian house in Chipping Barnet. The nearby village of Monken Hadley and its common are a pleasant spot for a walk.
Colindale: The RAF Museum (10am-6pm) [blogged] at the former Hendon Aerodrome is surely one of Outer London's best days out, with 100 undercover aircraft across several hangars.
Mill Hill: Until Barnet council closes it down, Belmont Farm (£6, 9am-5pm) offers tractor rides, unusual animals and petting opportunities galore for younger Londoners.

Tottenham: Bruce Castle (1-5pm, closed Monday & Tuesday) [blogged] isn't a real fortress, it's the borough's (relatively minor) museum. Further south by the Lea is the Markfield Beam Engine and Museum (11am-5pm) [blogged], which opens and steams on the second Sunday of the month (and the fourth in Summer).
Alexandra Palace: Even if you don't go inside Alexandra Palace for ice skating, an exhibition or whatever, the view from its hilltop park is brilliant. There'll be more to see once the old theatre, and the world's first television studio, are eventually restored.
Highgate: A particularly fine cluster of outdoor expanses includes Highgate Wood, Queen's Wood and the Parkland Walk, the latter a disused railway line from Finsbury Park.

Forty Hill/Bulls Cross: I've over-reported on the triple-hit of horticultural/historic highspots to the north of Enfield town centre, but here goes again. Forty Hall (11am-5pm, closed Monday) [blogged] is a 17th century manor house, now a museum on the site of a Tudor palace. Myddelton House Gardens (10am-5pm) [blogged] are an eight acre treat created by botanist Edward Augustus Bowles. And Capel Manor (£5.50, 10am-5.30pm, closed winter weekends) [blogged] is a horticultural college which shows off its students' handiwork to the wider public across 60 crafted gardens.
Crews Hill: For a most unusual collection, try the Whitewebbs Museum of Transport (£4, 10am-4pm, Tuesdays & the last Sunday of the month) [blogged], home each May to the Enfield Pageant of Motoring.

If you have any further thoughts on places you'd go out of your way to visit, please add them in the specific comments box. Strictly no food and drink, no shopping and nothing from Zone 1. And I'll add your best choices later.

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