Dave Sergeant

Pymmes Brook is a less known river in London but a very attractive one. It is sourced near High Barnet and flows south east to merge with the Lea near Tottenham Hale. A waymarked trail follows the route and is around 13 miles in length so can be easily split into two halves at Arnos Grove. I followed the guidance in the excellent The Pymmes Brook Trail by Colin Saunders who has also written the guidebooks on the Capital Ring and London Loop which I used.

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Arnos Grove to Pymmes Park - June 24th 2022

I was planning to complete the rest of Pymmes Brook Trail today, around 7 miles, but in the event only did half of that so more will follow. With rail strikes affecting the trains this week and today being a non-strike day a Sunday service was operating and meant I had to start a little later. But with the trains stopping at Vauxhall it meant I could catch the Victoria line from there and make up time and I arrived at Arnos Grove just before 11am.

Back into Arnos Grove Park with the brook gently flowing to the right hand side. The trees off to the right are along the line of an abandoned loop of the New River which was diverted onto a new path 1n 1858. Further along in the park Bounds Green Brook flows into Pymmes on the right hand side though the cascade is not as dramatic as the guide book suggests.

Then into Broomfield Park, away from the brook and once part of Enfield Chase. The former walled garden of Broomfield house is attractive but a bit neglected. Nearby is a garden of remembrance. The park has four large lakes though the fourth one was dry and empty.

Once a stately home Broomfield House was seriously damaged in a fire in 1984 with further fires later. There have been various attempts to restore it over the years and all have failed to date due to lack of funding. It even featured in a BBC programme 'Restoration' in 2003. A very sad sight and a very appropriate bit of graffiti on the hoarding.

Alexandra Palace looms ahead as I left the park. Then along Alderman's Hill named after Alderman Sir William Curtis who inverted the term 'Three Rs' for teaching in the 18th century. Busy Palmer's Green is reached.

Palmer's Green Triangle has an appropriately designed triangular clock but this is recent. Then after more street walking the later route of the New River is crossed via a footbridge. The New River is neither new nor a river but an aquiver to bring water to London from Hertfordshire. This bit though is slightly newer than the rest which dates from 1613.

The peace is shattered when the North Circular is reached and has to be crossed via a pedestrian crossing. But soon Pymmes Brook is rejoined and through Bowes Meadow it is relatively quiet. At the end of this at Chequers Way is the factory of Aria Foods which makes dairy products including Anchor and Lurpak butter.

Along Tile Kiln Lane which leads to Edmonton Rangers Football Club and alongside that Tile Kiln Lane Open Space with the brook off to the left. Half way along according to the guide book is a community garden with seats but it seemed totally neglected and overgrown and if there were any seats they were lost among the jungle.

More North Circular at the huge Cambridge roundabout which has to be crossed through a maze of subways. The trail markers were not too clear at the other side and I had to ask help to locate Silver Street. The walk then passes into St David's Park by Millfield Arts Centre and House.

The brook is found again across the park. But, as suggested in the guide updates, the bridge over the brook is closed for repair and I had to retrace my steps out of the park and along Silver Street to rejoin it a little further along.

Another short section of the brook and then Pymmes Park is entered. Pymmes Park was part of the estate of William Pymme after whom the brook is named along with Pymmes House which was demolished after a fire in 1940. I spent a short time exploring the park and its large lakes before continuing back to Silver Street.

By this time it was around 1.30pm and it was clear I would not be able to complete the full walk today so with no obvious place to eat I caught the train back to central London from Silver Street station and ate in a pub inside St Pancras station. After a very pleasant fish and chips I made my way back to Waterloo and the train home.

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