There are a lot of fascinating aspects of Barnet, in particular the wealth of history on our doorstep, and someone who is very good at bringing this to life is City of London guide Paul Baker of Barnet Walks.
On a recent cold and grey Saturday I joined him for his two-hour long Battle of Barnet walk. When our group met on Hadley Green we were all sensibly wrapped up warm for what turned out to be a lengthy, but necessary, introduction to the War of the Roses and a complicated a vicious period of history. Paul set the scene well, memorably introducing the key protagonists before we started criss-crossing the Great North Road to where each regiment had taken up arms. Maps were handed out to show more clearly the positions taken by the opposing sides.
It didn’t feel like much of a walk to begin with as we weren’t covering a lot of ground, but things picked up as we went further towards Monken Hadley and along Dury Road to Hadley Highstone. This gave a good indication of the scale of the battle. Once we’d discussed the results and aftermath at the Highstone monument, we continued north and turned off the road to see Dead Man’s Bottom where the walk concluded. Paul recommended visiting the Barnet Museum for more detailed information about the subject and explained that excavations are currently taking place near Wrotham Park as evidence suggests that the battle may have taken place slightly further north.
Paul managed to include a lot of facts in an entertaining and engaging manner and retained the attention of a mixed group of about 15 that included a couple of teenage boys. We were mainly locals, but a few had come from Chiswick for the walk and who seemed surprised by the proximity of the countryside.
Paul Baker has been leading walks in Barnet since 2004 and his Battle of Barnet walk is one of his most popular. Other walks include ‘Things That Go Bump in High Barnet’, ‘Dickens in North London’, ‘A Meander Through Monken Hadley’ as well as others in East Barnet Village, Mill Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb and more central walks in Spitalfields, Soho and Covent Garden. Paul also conducts walks in French.