Golders Hill Park is a little-known park in Golders Green, London. On the edge of Hampstead Heath, it was first opened to the public as a park in 1898. It includes a cafe, a free children’s zoo, a butterfly house (open from 2pm – 4pm most days from the end of March to the end of October) and a small herd of red deer. It is large enough to spend half a day there.
The easiest way to find it is probably to get to Golders Green tube station on the underground, and turn left out of the station. It is a little more than halfway up a rather steep hill (North End Road). The entrance is on the right-hand side of the road.
A few tens of metres past the entrance on the other side of the road is The Old Bull And Bush pub, famous for some awful old song from the 1920′s. Families can eat here, but if you see the pub, or the footpath to Hampstead Heath, you have just passed the entrance to the park. There was to be a North End tube station near here at one time, but it was never completed.
Golders Hill Park is a medium-sized park, originally a part of the much larger Hampstead Heath, about which I will probably write at some other time. Like many of London’s better parks, the local Council maintains it as a pleasant and interesting place to relax in: it is more than just a patch of grass with some trees in it!
On entering the park, the first thing of note you are likely to see is the cafe, which at the weekends can be very busy. Personally, I find it a little pricey – but actually, I find most cafes and restaurants to be on the expensive side: this one isn’t unusually so, for London.
If you turn to the left instead of the right, however, you might find this statue, Diogenist, by Mark Batten. I suppose it is named after Diogenes of Sinope, an ancient Greek chap who lived in a barrel on a diet of onions and wandered about with a lamp in the daytime claiming to be looking for an honest man: a philosopher, of course, founder of a school of philosophy called cynicism, that eventually transformed into stoicism. So there you go. I don’t know why this statue is here though.
Also on the left is a footpath. If you follow the path it leads you out of the park and across West Heath (a bit of woodland) towards the Pergola, which is a very nice secret garden a couple of hundred metres further up the hill… I will write a separate post about that later!
Past the cafe on the right, the path winds under some trees and if you keep to the very right, you can wander in behind them and find a little shaded secret path with flowers and maybe a bit of wildlife sitting around.
Further down on the right is a little garden. When we visited it it was a little early in the season for the flowers to be out, but it sports a little pergola as well (not the secret one), and a fountain. The butterfly house is here too, open most afternoons from 2-4pm throughout the Summer months.
Near this is a little duck pond, with… ducks and Canada Geese and a rather wonky-looking bird house for some of the park’s smaller citizens.
In the background of this picture, you can see the children’s zoo, which we will visit shortly.
This little section is again hidden on the right-hand side of the park, and leads down to the tennis courts, which are open to the public. No doubt you have to book your time for a few pounds. I’m not sure where you do this in this park, but in most parks you can book the courts in the park cafe. You will probably have to bring your own raquets and balls.
In the Spring and Summer, there are lots of flowers to be seen, and there is also a mini-Nature reserve at the bottom of the park for a few more wildfowl to live.
Finally, we come to the children’s zoo. It is of course small, but it is also free. The animals are securely caged behind double fences, making it hard to get bitten or, indeed, to photograph them, for the most part.