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Truly madly Hadley Wood

PUBLISHED: 17:52 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:05 20 February 2013

Hurst Cottage

Hurst Cottage

Damion Roberts finds out that if you go down to Hadley Wood today you're sure of a nice surprise

Damion Roberts finds out that if you go down to Hadley Wood today you're sure of a nice surprise

TUCKED away amid lush green fields and woods just inside the M25 is the beautifully picturesque Hadley Wood. And although only 12 miles from the City of London, the area is as far away in terms of character to the sprawling metropolis as is possible.
In a pocket of land close to both Barnet and Cockfosters, Hadley Wood is made up of around 1,500 homes, some of which are inhabited by the rich and famous. Footballers have especially taken a liking to the area and among its current residents are Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland striker Robbie Keane and former Arsenal and Holland striker Dennis Bergkamp.
But although the multi-millionaire superstars turn lots of heads, there are many other residents who work hard
on behalf of the community. Hearing about the local community centre, the Hadley Wood Association, I contacted Dr Rod Armstrong.
He moved to the area just over 35 years ago, some years after the formation of the association, and is now one of its directors. As Dr Armstrong explains, 'The association was set up for a number of reasons; to provide facilities for social interaction, education and to provide sporting facilities which we do with the tennis, football and cricket teams.
'We also provide facilities for a playschool, a ballet school and run a thriving bridge club. I think village
halls like this make a big contribution
to any community,'
The association is a charitable company which was set up in the
mid-1950s and, according to Dr Armstrong, has a membership which includes about a third of Hadley
Wood's families.
'I wish all the residents were members,' Mr Armstrong remarks ruefully. 'The building needs quite a lot of maintenance. The actual Hadley Wood Association Centre is based in Crescent East with quite an extensive open space around it. Just behind the building there are woods where you can walk and enjoy yourselves. Many people do. There is a path which runs down the side of the tennis courts leading eventually to Wagon Road. From there you can return over fields to Bartrams Lane. It's a pleasant 30-minute stroll.'
The walk is one of many which can be enjoyed by Hadley Wood residents and visitors alike. The most popular area for walking, and also a popular location for all types of leisure activities, is Monken Hadley Common which stretches out along the south of Pagitts Grove, Broadgates Avenue, Parkgate Crescent and Covert Way.
It is also bordered to the west by the very impressive Hadley Wood Golf Course, about more of which later.
The common is made up of a large wooded area and areas of grassland, all of which is open to the public to enjoy summer evening saunters or wet and windy wintry walks.
'Hadley Wood is a very ancient wood. It adjoins an area of common land
where a local cricket club play. There
are lovely walks through the woods which are very popular with residents,' Dr Armstrong adds.
'You can get right through to Cockfosters should you wish. There is also a large lake in the woods, Jack's lake, where many people enjoy fishing.'
Most surprisingly the common is split in two by a railway line which cuts straight through the wood and then tucks underneath Hadley Wood before re-emerging just north of Camlet Way. Yet even the railway line has its fans, one of which happens to be the vicar of Hadley Wood's St Paul's Church, Rupert Mackay.
Mr Mackey, 46, moved to Hadley Wood four years ago from Knutsford in Cheshire which he describes as 'another leafy and pleasant area'.
'I take my dog for walks down to the woods and towards Jack's Lake, and they are the most enjoyable walks,' says Mr Mackay, who is married with four children. 'It's very beautiful, very green and very nice. The common is a mixture of an open field, woods and a lake which is a wonderful combination. There is also the railway line you cross and you can see the trains whizzing by.
'The thing about Hadley Wood and why I enjoy living here is the friendliness of the people. There are people who were born and bred here alongside others who have moved in
and it can seem at first that possibly some are hiding behind their big gates but behind those gates they are wonderful people.'
Although he will not divulge whether any celebrities attend his church, Mr Mackay comments, 'I have met some people who are in the public eye and they are normal and down to earth in contrast to the newspaper and magazine type impressions.'
One cannot write about Hadley Wood without mentioning its impressive golf club, which opened in 1922 and was designed by none other than Dr Alister MacKenzie. The same Dr MacKenzie designed the famous Augusta National, home of the US Masters. The golf course is located in Beech Hill, has one of the highest girl member ratios in the country and is one of the finer courses around the London area.
So, whether walking is your thing or a spot of golf is in order, Hadley Wood is just waiting to be discovered.

NOT TO BE MISSED


Monken Hadley Common
Bordering Hadley Wood to the south, the common is a largely wooded area with snippets of grassland and a large lake suitable for catching a few fish. Among the trees flourishing in the wood are beech, maple, elm and crab trees and among the fauna common to the area are birds such as sparrowhawks and cuckoos. The lake is known locally by two names, Jack's and Beech Hill, and the area is open to members of the public.


Trent Park
To the East of Hadley Wood, and just off the Cockfosters Road, is Trent Park.
A public park and house, Trent Park is home to the Middlesex University campus of the same name. The area opened as a public park in 1973, almost 200 years after the land was made into a miniature hunting park
and given to the King's physician Dr Richard Jebb in 1780.


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