Notting Hill Gate to Holland Park
Discover memorable architecture and a lovely park
3.25 miles (5.3kms)
The walk begins at Notting Hill Gate, for it wouldn't be fair to mention 'diversions' without including Holland Park's lively neighbour, Notting Hill. Most cinema audiences throughout the world are now familiar with this area thanks to the film of the same name, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. The blue front door that featured in many scenes was, at that time, the home of Richard Curtis, the film's scriptwriter. And of course, there's that colourful annual event known as the Notting Hill Carnival that takes place in August, not to mention the world-famous Portobello Road antiques market... but where does Holland Park fit into all this?
Holland Park is a bit like Aesop's fable about the tortoise and the hare. While it may lack the racy pace of its neighbour, it knows its limitations and is comfortable in its own, refined skin. Some of the architecture here is truly memorable. The area includes some of the most sought-after properties in London but it has a soft centre in the form of a delightful 54-acre (22ha) park, in which lie the partial ruins of a Jacobean mansion, Holland House.
Lady Holland hosted some lavish parties in this building for guests including Lord Byron, Earl Grey, Lord Palmerston and Charles Dickens. The building was largely destroyed during the Blitz in World War II. The section that remains is now a youth hostel with 200 beds. For less than the cost of a theatre ticket you can stay overnight in one of the loveliest parks in London. You can still see some remnants from the house's glorious past, such as the old ballroom (which is now a restaurant called The Belvedere) and the manicured garden that includes a mural of an 1870s garden party.
And that's not all. Take the striking Gate Cinema, for example: it was once a theatre and now shows international films. If it's open you should take a peek inside, as you should with the Coronet, a little further on. Addison Road also has its fair share of architectural delights. Keep an eye out for No. 8, a monster of a house that was designed for the store magnate, Sir Ernest Debenham. Love it or hate it, this building is so 'in your face' that it's hard not to form an immediate opinion of the turquoise and blue glazed brickwork.
From Notting Hill Gate tube exit head towards Holland Park Avenue, passing the Gate Cinema and a few paces further, the Coronet. This busy road is lined with some quaint shops and pubs.
In 650yds (594m) after Holland Park tube turn left into Holland Park Gardens. Just by the red-brick school on the right the road joins Addison Road.
After almost 0.5 miles (800m) turn left past St Barnabas Church into Melbury Road. Cross Abbotsbury Road and continue to the next road. Turn left here on Ilchester Place to reach the gates of Holland Park. Take the path ahead and walk through the arch. On the left is the Ice House.
Bear right through the hedged garden and, after passing under another arch, turn left to follow the footpath as it descends a set of stone steps. The strange man you see with rolled-up sleeves walking towards you is, in fact, a realistic bronze sculpture. Follow the path as it swings to the right.
At the end of this fenced path turn right along a long, straight path that heads slightly uphill, flanked by lime trees. Ahead is a statue of Lord Holland sitting high above a pond, the local watering hole for squirrels. If you're a keen birder, take a look in the woods behind the pond. Otherwise continue ahead.
Turn right at a junction of paths. Soon go left, through a metal gate and turn left along Holland Walk, a tarmac path also used by cyclists (if you turn right here you'll end up on Kensington High Street). Follow Holland Walk to the end.
Turn right into Holland Park Avenue and take the next right, Aubrey Road, which has an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Follow it as it bends to the left and later passes St George's Church. At the crossroads continue ahead, turning into the first road on the left, Hillgate Street.
After crossing Hillgate Place and its attractive rows of pastel-coloured terraced houses, turn right into Notting Hill Gate and back to the start.
Paved street and tarmac paths
Exclusive properties and idyllic park
On lead near peacocks and in woodland areas; not permitted in Kyoto Gardens
AA Street by Street London
Holland Park; Notting Hill Gate
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About the area
Discover Greater London
Greater London is one of the world’s largest urban areas; 33 boroughs stretching north to Enfield, south to Croydon, east to Havering, west to Hillingdon and with central London at the heart of it all.
Greater London was officially created in 1965, but the boroughs themselves all have their own histories going back much further. Greenwich is home to the Prime Meridian, which all clocks on earth take their time from, while Hounslow contains Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. Greater London contains a multitude of parks and green spaces, from the six Royal Parks (including Richmond Park, Green Park, Hyde Park and Regent’s Park) and other huge open spaces like Hampstead Heath and Clapham Common; to smaller community spaces like Clissold Park in Stoke Newington and Burgess Park in Southwark.
The centre of London has its quiet spaces too, like Coram’s Field by Great Ormond Street, and Camley Street Natural Park, a stone’s throw from King’s Cross and St Pancras. One of the city’s most impressive features is the London Underground. Beginning in 1863 as the Metropolitan Railway, it took commuters into The City from the suburbs of Middlesex. It was the first underground railway in the world, and now consists of 11 lines, 270 stations, and 250 miles (402km) of track. It’s estimated that nearly five million journeys are taken every day, and there are nearly one and a half billion riders each year. At peak times, there are more than 543 trains whizzing around the Capital.