Located just off Highgate hill and one of a few greenspaces in the area, Waterlow Park is one not to be missed for a wander. The park is in Highgate in northern London just next to Highgate Cemetery and Hampstead Heath. The park has been fairly recently restored by the local council. I walked into it, knowing little of it’s history, but was pleasantly surprised. It is a grand, late Victorian park, a gift from Mr. Waterlow to London County Council. The park contains a few houses which pre-date the creation of the park.
For me, I visited on a cold, dreary Leap Year February 29th. But the crocuses, snowdrops were in full force and a couple of cherry trees were beginning to flout their early season blooms. It reminded me that the grumblings of Spring come early here in the Southeast of England. It’s one of the things I love most about living here in London. fter spending so many of the past 12 years of my life living in the desert, where the Spring is a weekend sometime in the Middle of May. Here it’s 3 months of watching all the shades of the rainbow re-appear in shrubs, vines and trees after a Winter slumber in fantastic fashion.
I didn’t have much time to explore the park as I was working, but what I did see made me sure I’d be back again
to spend the time to see the whole property. I was most impressed with the water features, which are fed by natural springs. There’s a bit of a bowl area going down to one of the ponds in the park. From the top of the bowl, you can get a glimpse of the central area of London over the top of the trees.
As far as trees are concerned, there’s a fantastic mix of trees, including some really nice Scots Pines (Pinus sylvestris) on the Northern wall of the park. Of course I didn’t get any good pictures of them as it was an after thought to take pictures for this series of posts. You’ll just have to go there yourself to see them. My favorite tree on the property was a big Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica) which looked like it had some serious damage to it about 3 feet up from the bottom. I have no idea what the history of the tree is, but it looked good and had overcome the stress to become a prominent figure in the space. Good job, Beech.
I took a quick stroll by the Lauderdale House which houses a small cafe. Out in front of the house is a lovely little formal garden. And my favorite bit was the sun dial in the garden, which was at the same elevation as the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the city. It’s quirky little monuments and installations like this, which make certain parks worth multiple visits or dragging other people to experience.
On my way out I spotted a guy walking a load of dogs. Literally a load. And all of the same breed. I think they were bichon frise? Any ways, it made for a memorable moment to see them all walking in a line on their way to a nice afternoon in the park. Lucky dogs to get walked in such a park.
So if you do happen to make your way to Hampstead Heath or Highgate Cemetery, make sure to make a small trip through Waterlow Park. You’ll be glad you did. I”ll leave you with a couple more pics of the park. Enjoy and welcome Spring!