This is an undulating meandering route in the Borough of Haringey through a couple of remnants of the ancient Forest of Middlesex, in one of the highest parts of Inner North London.
Both woods are very different in character and feel:
Highgate Wood is only part ancient wood and has been managed for a long time, with several areas having been coppiced and others having been cleared, and it mostly has the appearance of a parkland wood. Queen’s Wood has a wilder, less managed and more challenging feel and consequently features a greater mixture of flora and fauna.
And while Highgate Wood is famous for its bluebell displays in season, these are largely confined to the northeasterly corner of the wood.
In contrast, Queen’s Wood displays a fine mixture of wildflowers in several parts of the wood, amongst which are bluebells, wood anenomes and daffodils.
Both woods feature ancient – possibly pre-historic – earthworks and they also boast cafés for refreshments.
|Eat / Drink
Refreshments en route
The Old White Lion 121 Great North Road, East Finchley, London N2 0NW (020 8883 6459). Located right at the start of the walk, this large gastro pub is open all day every day.
Cherry Tree Café 39 Muswell Hill Road, Highgate, London N10 3JB (020 3105 0966). Located 90m off route, 1.5 km into the walk.
The Pavilion Café Highgate Wood Muswell Hill Road, Highgate, London N10 3JN (020 8444 4777). Located 70m off route, 2.5 km into the walk. Open 08.30-16.00. In a former cricket pavilion, with a separate kiosk.
Queen’s Wood Café 42 Muswell Hill Road, Highgate, London N10 3JP (020 8444 2604). Located 3.4 km into the walk. Open 10.00-17.00 Thu-Sun.
Refreshments at the end of the walk
The Boogaloo 312 Archway Road, Highgate, London N6 AT (020 8340 2928). Open all day every day.
Holly & Vine 292 Holmesdale Road, Highgate, London N6 55AT. Part of The Boogaloo site.
Highgate Café, Food Room, Velvet, Caffé Eraldo, Fonseca’s Deli.
The Woodman 414 Archway Road, Highgate, London N6 5U (020 8340 3016). Open all day every day.
Café Noir A kiosk right by the entrance to the tube station. Open to 16.30 daily.
Cherry Tree Wood
Cherry Tree Wood is a 5.3-hectare park in East Finchley in the Borough of Barnet and a remnant of the large medieval wood called Finchley Wood. The wood likely served as a source to fire nearby Roman kilns around AD50-AD160. The first mention of the park though is from the 13th century as the hunting grounds of the Bishop of London. It was later known as Dirthouse Wood because the ‘night soil’ and horse manure from London's streets was brought to the Dirthouse, now the White Lion pub next to East Finchley Station, as fertiliser for hay meadows.
Highgate Wood is a 28-hectare area of ancient woodland in the borough of Haringey, lying between East Finchley, Highgate and Muswell Hill. It was originally part of the ancient Forest of Middlesex. The wood has been managed to varying degrees by humans through the ages. Predominantly consisting of oak, hornbeam and holly wood, it is also home to more than 50 other tree and shrub species which have self-seeded there. Amongst them is the wild service tree, a rare deciduous tree with brown berries, which is commonly taken as an indicator of an ancient woodland.
Prehistoric flints have been found in the wood, and excavations on the ridge at the northern end of the wood established that Romano-Britons were producing pottery from local materials between AD 50-100.
An ancient earthwork runs across the wood. This may have formed part of an enclosure for deer during the Medieval period, when the Bishop of London owned the wood. However, it could also be a prehistoric boundary or defensive work.
Previously known as Brewer's Fell and Gravelpit Wood, the wood has long been managed by 'coppicing with standards', meaning that the hornbeams were coppiced for fuel and fencing, while the oaks were grown to maturity for ship building and construction work.
Open 07.30 to dusk.
Queen’s Wood is a 21-hectare area of an ancient oak-hornbeam woodland in the borough of Haringey, abutting Highgate Wood and lying between East Finchley, Highgate, Muswell Hill and Crouch End. It was originally part of the ancient Forest of Middlesex. Once called Churchyard Bottom Wood, it is said to be the site of a plague pit. The wood was renamed Queen’s Wood in honour of Queen Victoria upon purchase by Hornsey Urban District Council in 1898. It has no park or playing fields, and has never been subjected to intensive management of the type practised at Highgate Wood and accordingly there is greater diversity of flora and fauna. The ground flora is particularly rich: it includes a large population of wood anemone, goldilocks buttercup and wood sorrel, yellow pimpernel and square-stemmed St. John's wort.
The wood is accessible at all times.