Arrandene Open Space and Featherstone Hill

From Londonbirders

Arrandene Open Space and Featherstone Hill is a hilly site comprising 23.42 hectares (57.87 acres) of meadow and woodland near Mill Hill Village in north-west London (map; OS grid reference TQ226919). Owned and managed by the London Borough of Barnet, Arrandene has been designated a nature conservation site of metropolitan (ie, London-wide) importance.



In Victorian times, Mill Hill and the surrounding areas of Middlesex were important centres for growing hay to fuel the horses that hauled London’s cabs, carriages and carts. By the 1920s, as the internal combustion engine supplanted the horse, hay had ceased to be an important crop and Mill Hill Village was threatened by encroaching suburban development. In 1929, Hendon Urban District Council (now absorbed into Barnet) purchased more than 50 acres of the Arrandene estate for public recreational use and also to protect the distinct character of Mill Hill Village.


Although mainly bordered by residential roads, Arrandene retains a rural character, being separated from buildings by school playing fields and the long rear gardens of large private houses. The habitat includes deciduous woodland, rich ancient hedgerows and rough grassland. Its 12 meadows are managed by a traditional “cut and lift” method and support numerous uncommon plants characteristic of unimproved grassland. Plants named by London Wildweb include Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Adder's-tongue Fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum), Pepper Saxifrage (Silaum silaus), Oval Sedge (Carex ovalis) and Grey Sedge (Carex divulsa ssp divulsa). The rare wild service-tree (Sorbus torminalis) can be found in the broad hedgerows. The only open water is a tiny pond near the south-east corner of the site. (A pond shown towards the west of the site on some maps seems to have dried up.)



The birdlife of Arrandene is much as one might expect for such a habitat. However, it does not seem to have been regularly watched by birders and there may be uncommon birds yet to be found. The site certainly supports good numbers of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and Jay, plus Nuthatch and Tawny Owl. Summer visitors include Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Sparrowhawk and Kestrel are resident. According to London Wildweb, the breeding birds include Spotted Flycatcher, Reed Bunting and Skylark, but this information may well be long out of date. The lack of open water means that the only water bird one might see is the occasional Moorhen on the one tiny pond.


Grey Squirrel and Red Fox can be seen, but there is little recent evidence of other larger mammals. Rabbit could be seen a few years ago but may now have died out locally. There is no current sign of Mole activity.



Arrandene can be reached by bus 240 from Mill Hill East (London Underground) or Mill Hill Broadway (Thameslink). Buses 113, 186 and 221 also pass nearby.

Parking is available in a layby in Wise Lane at the foot of Featherstone Hill and in two nearby car parks in Mill Hill Park. There is street parking in Wills Grove and at the east end of Wise Lane.


Arrandene has 24-hour free access, with four access points from Wise Lane and one each from Wills Grove and Milespit Hill. The site has a network of unsurfaced footpaths and bridleways, which tend to be muddy in places in winter.

Easy wheelchair access is available only from the east end of Wise Lane on a surfaced pathway leading only as far as the small pond.


There are no on-site facilities, but there are cafes nearby in Mill Hill Park and in the garden centre in Dawes Lane. There is a small parade of shops nearby in Salcombe Gardens and further shops and restaurants in Mill Hill Broadway. The nearest pubs are on The Ridgeway at the junctions with Hammers Lane (the Three Hammers) and Burtonhole Lane (the Adam & Eve).

Information compiled by Andrew Haynes

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