London's Shortest High Street

By M@ Last edited 55 months ago
London's Shortest High Street

Welcome to Mill Hill High Street. You can walk its length in less than a minute. According to an uncited claim on Wikipedia, this is London's shortest High Street. You won't find a Gregg's or a Tesco or a charity shop. You will find geese and honeysuckle.

Mill Hill has many notable thoroughfares, from the bustling Broadway to the Waitrose-infused crossroads near the tube station. Nearby, the A1 and M1 share a final, lingering kiss. They won't meet again until Yorkshire. But Mill Hill's historic High Street is unique and charming in precisely the way that the Barnet Bypass never could be.

If you're going to visit on foot, prepare to break a sweat. The High Street is, in one sense, well badged — right on top of the prominence that gives Mill Hill half of its name.

This is Mill Hill Village, distinct from the better known areas around the tube and Thameslink stations. It is the historic heart of the area, a medieval settlement once noted for its prominent windmill, which provided the other half of the name.

The Village is strewn along an ancient road known as the Ridgeway. Up here you'll find the well-to-do Mill Hill School, a couple of excellent pubs, and a particularly good city farm. The High Street, though, sits aloof from it all, entirely residential.

This is a part of London that time forgot. A Union Flag flutters half way along the terrace. A mix of old cottages and more recent homes sits either side of the lane, which soon leads out onto a quaint village green. This is one of the few streets in the capital where you could step out of a 1932 Ford Coupe and not look out of place.

Sadly, the property here doesn't come with a 1930s price tag. The most recent sale saw a two-bedroom terrace house go for £531,500 — and this, remember, in deepest Outer London, a good mile's slog uphill from the nearest train or tube. A couple of the cottages are valued at over £2 million.

At the eastern end we find a quintessential village pond. Here, the geese lead a charmed existence, clambering over cars and squatting the dusty carriageway like they own the place. There is little traffic for them to inconvenience. An elderly man appears from nowhere and throws them some crumbs.

Mill Hill High Street was not always this sleepy. Until 1960, the short road boasted as many as five shops, including a post office, greengrocer and butcher. All eventually closed as Broadway developed into the main commercial centre. You'll regret the lack of shops if, like us, you choose to visit this hilltop idyll on one of the warmest days of the year.

Last Updated 05 June 2017