Set out below is detailed information for anyone planning to visit Brent Reservoir, including a comprehensive map of the area. Information about the site can also be found on the Brent Reservoir page of the London Bird Club wiki.
Brent Reservoir is easy to reach by car or by public transport. It is to be found in the angle between the North Circular Road (A406), which runs parallel with the reservoir’s south bank, and the Edgware Road (A5), which passes close to its eastern end.
By car — The main point of access by car is off the A5 at West Hendon Broadway NW9. If arriving via the M1, continue to the end (Junction 1) and follow “A406 West (A5)”; then, after passing under a railway bridge, take the third exit from a roundabout (“Harrow / West Hendon A5”) onto West Hendon Broadway. At traffic lights, turn off the Broadway into Cool Oak Lane. Just before the narrow bridge across the reservoir’s north arm, turn left into Woolmead Avenue to park. Note that on weekdays street parking in the whole area is restricted to resident permit holders between 10.00 and 11.00. Outside this period you may park either in marked parking bays or on single yellow lines.
There is also a small free car park further along Cool Oak Lane at the top of Woodfield Park — on the left just before the road bends sharply right — and a larger car park at the north end of the site off the sharp bend in Goldsmith Avenue. At the western end of the site, near the dam, a car park can be found at the end of Birchen Grove. In this area there is also street parking in Kinloch Drive and Townsend Lane.
If you wish to visit the reservoir’s south bank, park in Aboyne Road, which you can reach from the North Circular Road (eastbound only) or Neasden Lane (A4088). From here there is a footpath into Neasden Recreation Ground, which borders the reservoir.
By rail — The nearest railway station to the WHCG hides is Hendon (Thameslink), which is a 10-minute walk away. Go right out of station and walk down Station Road to West Hendon Broadway. Turn left and cross over at traffic lights to go down Cool Oak Lane. (A new Thameslink station is planned to serve Brent Cross Shopping Centre, and this might be a fraction closer to the reservoir.)
By tube — If arriving by London Underground, head for Hendon Central on the Northern Line. On exiting the station turn left and cross Queens Road to catch bus 83 to West Hendon Broadway. (Or it’s a healthy walk of about a mile via Vivian Avenue and Station Road.)
Alternatively, take a Metropolitan or Jubilee Line train to Wembley Park. Turn left out of the station to bus stop O and take bus 297 or 182 to Blackbird Hill, getting off at the stop opposite Lidl and walking along Birchen Grove to the western end of the reservoir.
By bus — West Hendon Broadway is served by buses 32 (Edgware–Kilburn Park), 83 (Golders Green–Ealing Hospital), 142 (Brent Cross–Watford Junction) and 183 (Golders Green–Pinner).
Blackbird Hill is served by routes 182 (Brent Cross–Harrow Weald), 245 (Golders Green–Alperton), 297 (Willesden–Ealing Broadway) and 302 (Mill Hill Broadway–Kensal Rise).
Route 112 (Brent Cross–Ealing Broadway) follows the North Circular Road (A406) past the south side of the reservoir.
By plane — Gatwick and Luton are the best airports from which to approach Brent Reservoir. Take a Thameslink train towards London from Gatwick or from Luton Airport Parkway and change where appropriate onto a slower train that stops at Hendon. Then see “By rail” above.
There is 24-hour access to all the open spaces surrounding the reservoir, with numerous access points. Access to the two hides overlooking East Marsh (Main Hide; Heron Hide) requires a key (obtainable through the WHCG), although anyone is welcome in the hides while a keyholder is present.
If you are not a keyholder you are most likely to find the hides open early on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Among the best days to visit are the monthly guided walk days, when the itinerary always includes the main hide. Other good days are the spring and autumn bird count days, when the main hide is occupied from early morning until at least lunchtime. The main hide is also usually open on the morning of New Year’s Day, when some regular Brent Birders like to get their year lists of to a good start. See the News/Event page for further information. Furthermore, if anyone wishes to visit on a specific date and can notify us at least a few days in advance, we will gladly try to arrange for a keyholder to meet you.
To reach the hides walk south along the footpath that starts just east of the bridge on Cool Oak Lane, but be aware that the path can be muddy after wet weather. The North Marsh has a permanently open public hide and a nearby raised viewing platform. To reach these, follow a footpath (also possibly muddy) that sets off north from the west side of Cool Oak Lane bridge.
Disabled access — Wheelchair access to the main WHCG hide is difficult because the all-weather footpath laid down by the London Borough of Barnet some years ago has not been maintained. If you do manage to reach the hide, it is easily accessed by a gently sloping approach ramp. Wheelchairs can still reach a viewing platform overlooking the main reservoir just west of Cool Oak Bridge.
Food and loos
There are currently no toilet or refreshment facilities on the site (but watch this space). The nearest facilities are at Birchen Grove Garden Centre (NW9 8RY), the Hendon branch of Sainsbury’s (NW9 6JX) and a couple of outlets in West Hendon Broadway.
Birchen Grove Garden Centre To reach Birchen Grove Garden Centre (which is worth a visit as the largest garden centre in Greater London), leave the site at its western end along Birchen Grove and at the bend in the road turn right through the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre (marked “Field Studies Centre” on the map below). The garden centre’s hours are 9am to 5.30pm (Sundays 11am to 5pm). Its cafe is normally open whenever the store is open but on Sundays it opens earlier at 10.30am. On sale are hot and cold drinks, light meals and snack foods such as sandwiches and filled jacket potatoes.
Sainsbury’s To reach Sainsbury’s large West Hendon store, leave the site at the far end of the northern marsh, beyond the bowling green, and turn right along Goldsmith Avenue to The Hyde. Across the road you will see the supermarket, open from 7am to 10pm (Sundays 10.30am to 4.30pm). Plenty of snack foods and cold drinks are on sale, and if you have no shame you could even patronise the in-store Starsucks outlet.
West Hendon Broadway West Hendon Broadway has plenty of food outlets, including a Co-op food store opened in late 2018, but only two enterprises that offer food, drink and customer loos during the daytime. At No 210 (a 10-minute walk from the WHCG main hide) is an Irish pub and eatery called O’Hanlons, which is open all day from 11am onwards. A little further along the road, at No 264, is La Brasiliana, a cafe that serves hot drinks and simple hot dishes and is open from 7am to 3pm. (The Broadway’s other food outlets are either loo-less fast food takeaways or restaurants only open in the evening.)