On your next walk visit Golders Hill Park, bursting with colours and hidden attractions. It’s one of the most beautiful parks in London and will become your favourite spot in North London.
Some people say it’s one of the most beautiful parks in London and some have been coming here for decades. It’s a gem very well known to the locals but not that much to those living in other parts of London or outside the capital, but Golders Hill Park is a beautiful green space in North London, which you’ll fall in love with. It’s less known than its famous neighbour Hampstead Heath, but offers not only peaceful space to relax but also a butterfly house, café, mini-zoo and an adventure playground.
If that’s not enough, the surrounding areas provide for lovely quiet walk through beautiful streets and cul-de-sacs of North London. If you make your way to the park from Golders Green station there’re a few more discoveries waiting there.
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Here are five reasons why Golders Hill Park is worth exploring and three more things to see when you’re around.
Café that people fought for
First thing you’ll notice as you enter the park is the café. It looks like an ideal park café, except for the fact that on nice warm days it’s absolutely packed. The refreshment house, as it’s officially called, has been there since 1973, and serves home-made ice cream and other yummy treats. Some people have been coming here for generations and when in 2016 the future of the café was threatened they stood up and spoke up.
Back then the City of London corporation didn’t extend the lease to the family who’s been running the place since the opening. Instead, they wanted to give it to a catering chain, but that one pulled off the contract in the end, after people protested.
Flower beds that will blind you with colours
The flower beds in the park are stunning. During the summer months they’re bursting with colour. They make the park to look special. All the flowers used for the display are grown in the park’s greenhouses. It’s probably the feature that makes Golders Hill Park one of the most beautiful parks in London.
Among the flowers you’ll find a statue of a girl sunbathing (Golders Hill Girl). The girl, in a t-shirt and shorts, sitting with her legs outstretched and hands behind her, represents how much the park is enjoyed by so many every weekend of the year. On sunny days lots of people surround her and even take pictures with her. The sculpture was designed by Patricia Finch.
One of the flip flops next to the statue was once stolen, so a new pair had to be cast by the foundry who made the sculpture.
Butterflies you’ve never seen before
The butterfly house is another surprising attraction in this park. In this little house you can admire butterflies from Britain and all over the world and see some really rare species. The house is not open all the time, so it’s best to check its opening times before you make a trip.
Mini-zoo you’ve never expected
The last but not least of the attractions is the mini-zoo. By the time I saw the zoo with lamas and ostrich I already thought that this is one of the most beautiful parks in London. It seemed it already had more than it could contain, but the zoo is like the cherry on top. While you stroll through the park lamas and ostrich take rest in their little enclosure and are there to be admired. There are various animals there throughout the year and you can even adopt some of them.
The zoo is one of only two free zoos in London registered with BIAZA, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
A hidden gem for a romantic stroll
Between the butterfly house and the zoo, you’ll find a shaded area with a brook, ducks a small humpback bridge. If you’re looking for a romantic place this is the one to pick. This part convinced me that I was visiting one of the most beautiful parks in London.
At the end of the walk around the park, you can climb up to the top of the hill and admire the beautiful view.
When you pass through the gates to the foresty area, you’ll find yourself in a beautiful cul-de-sac. Just see below the pictures. I felt like I was in a tiny French village.
Erno Goldfinger’s hidden design
Golders Green station is the nearest tube station to the park. Golders Green is not only the first surface station, when heading north, on Edgware branch of the Northern Line, but also the last station on the Northern line to retain semaphore signals, which were replaced in 1950. At first glance there’s nothing interesting about the area, until you dig a little bit deeper.
One of the buildings, which currently is home to one of the Virgin Money branches, was designed by Erno Goldfinger, Hungarian-born, London-bread modernist architect. You’ll know that I’ve been searching for the buildings designed by him after reading another post – about the highlights of Highgate.
2 Golders Green Road is quite hard to find. It took me a few minutes to realise that this is the building I was looking for, especially that it’s a bit run down. To be honest, it isn’t as interesting as I expected, however you can see its interesting features if you look closer. It’s a bit run down and hidden between other buildings and if you don’t know it’s there you’ll pass it like you would pass any other building on that road. Yet when you look closer, you’ll see rounded windows on 1st floor and other modernist characteristics.
Goldfinger most well-known building is brutalist Trellick Tower in North Kensington. Others may recognise 2 Willow Road in Hampstead, which was his own home. Erno Goldfinger also lent a name to one of Ian Fleming’s character in the books about Bond. He also designed some other ugly blocks of flats in different parts of London.
Hippodrome that has been through a lot
As you start making your way to the park, climbing up Golders Hill, you’ll see two more interesting things.
One is the hippodrome on your left. It was built in 1913 by Bertie Crewe as a 3,000-seat music hall. In 1960s BBC took over and transformed itinto television studio, and then into a radio studio and multi-purpose concert venue. It then became the home to BBC Concert Orchestra. Even the Queen played here in 1973. After the BBC left the theatre in August 2003, it was left unused and deteriorated considerably. In 2005 the venue was placed on English Heritage’s ‘buildings at risk’ register as its future had become so uncertain. In 2007, it became an evangelical church building. Since 2017, it is an Islamic centre.
Patisserie from your dreams
Opposite the hippodrome is a local gem – kosher Parkway Patisserie. It attracted my attention, because it looks very much like little patisseries I know from my home country Poland. I could even recognise some of the cakes. The shop is tiny but filled with amazing sweet smell and queues of people. I didn’t buy anything on this occasion. I’m sure though, judging by the large queue, that you can get a nice treat here and enjoy it when you reach the park.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Golders Hill Park, truly one of the most beautiful parks in London. I found it by simply looking at the map and was glad that I could combine it with a search for one of the buildings designed by Erno Goldfinger. I visited it on a beautiful sunny day and loved every bit of it. I hope I convinced you about its beauty too and that you’ll visit it on one of your jaunts through London streets.
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