Familes enjoying a sunny afternoon in Exploratory Park, Brent Cross Town

PLAY in your park

Exploratory Park is now open for use from early morning till dusk, daily – just a 12-minute walk from Brent Cross tube station.

Claremont Way

Plan your journey

Familes enjoying a sunny afternoon in Exploratory Park, Brent Cross Town

Plan your journey

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15 October 2020

Great escapes

Brent Cross Town is the perfect starting point for exploration and making connections.

Brent Cross Town is the perfect starting point for exploration and making connections, with a tube line right into central London and the M1 on the doorstep. And it’s set to get even better with a new rail station at Brent Cross West completed in 2022.

Set aside a couple of hours, a day or even the weekend to discover these five easy trips near and far.

Remember to check government guidelines before travelling – and save these trips for another day if you can’t get there safely.

Walk the Capital Ring from Brent to Highgate

Starting close to home, the Brent Reservoir, also known as the Welsh Harp, is a wonderful spot to pop out on your lunch break for some quick green inspiration. But if you have a few hours to spend, follow the River Brent eastwards for a walk along the Capital Ring. Highgate is six miles away so you can do it in 90 minutes, but maybe allow a bit more so you can meander along the water and through heritage woodlands. It’s a rare opportunity to do something in London that doesn’t cost any money; you can even bring a buggy if you don’t mind carrying it up or down a couple of steps.

Highlights on the route include a 16-foot bronze statue in Finchley of a naked woman holding a sword formally named La Délivrance, but known more colloquially as “Dirty Gertie”; Decoy Lake in Brent Park – the clue is in the name – and Highgate Wood, understood to date all the way back to the Ice Age.

Welsh Harp reservoir; photo: Tian Khee Siong

Experience aviation history at the RAF Museum

How would you like to climb into the pilot’s seat of an iconic Spitfire Mk XVI and imagine what it was like to glide above the clouds? The Royal Air Force Museum in neighbouring Colindale is a great day out for families of all sizes. Adults too may enjoy the Spitfire, although the kids might prefer the playground full of minis of legendary aircraft where they can press the buttons as much as they want.

The RAF Museum explores 100 years of proud heritage: the area has a long history of looking towards the skies as the former home of Handley Page, a pioneer in British aviation, making this a destination of special interest for those with an interest in technology and engineering. Here, the story really comes to life: the RAF Museum has large hangars filled with aircraft to be explored, anecdotes from veterans who saw action first hand, and insights into how innovation and global alliances helped shape the world today.

The Regent’s Canal and the Canal Museum

Not too much further afield, the Regent’s Canal is a favourite walk for many Londoners and it’s easy to see why: the charming old towpath provides a unique view of the city. Bring some friends or put the kids in the buggy and start out in Coal Drops Yard – this is another spot that’s been lauded among Londoners as not just a successful redevelopment, but also a great place to get a meal and enjoy urban parklife. A mile west along the canal and you’re in Camden, or head a few hundred metres east to the London Canal Museum: this is a quirky little gem among the area’s museum luminaries, offering a charming look into how canals helped shape the city and made the Industrial Revolution possible. There’s even a Victorian ice well located under the museum, reminding us of when ice was an imported luxury.

The Regent’s Canal is just behind King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, a direct tube ride from Brent Cross.

Paddleboarding on Regent’s Canal, while the photo at top shows Word on the Water’s floating bookshop; photos: John Sturrock

Pumpkins at Hitchin Lavender farm

In summer, the lush lavender fields of Hitchin are a sight to behold, with purple flowers stretching off into the distance. Visitors can rummage the eight hectares of fragrant flowers at the Hitchin Lavender farm and pick as much as they can carry. This October, there’s a pumpkin patch instead, and the barn and tea room are also open – just make sure you pre-book on the website. Some nice walking routes around the area make this a good destination for families after a nature walk with a twist. With its pretty cobbled streets and frequent market days, Hitchin itself is also worth a visit, making this a lovely day out.

Hitchin is just up the M1 from Brent Cross or you can hop on a train at St Pancras International.

Go punting in Oxford

What’s a more romantic day out than the city of dreaming spires? Maybe you want to spend the hours taking in the stunning architecture, or maybe the Harry Potter tour of film locations is the real draw.

Even if your party contains more than two, consider the favourite local pastime that is punting: this quintessential Oxford habit is the city’s answer to the Hyde Park pedalo but with much more opportunity to fall in. You can rent a traditional punt on the canalside and operate it yourself, or hire a pro to do the work while you relax and enjoy the serene water, and tuck into a picnic while the world floats by.

To get to Oxford, take the tube to Paddington; from there, it’s a quick 53-minute train ride. Alternatively, you can whizz down the M40 from the North Circular.