|Distance:||5.2 miles (8.4 km)|
|Meets:||A400, A4201, A503, A598, A406, A504|
|Old route now:||A504|
|Route outline (key)|
The A502 is an interesting journey, mostly along the Edgware branch of the Northern Line in North West London.
Section 1: Camden - Hampstead Heath
We start at Camden Town Britannia Junction in a one-way system coming off the A400. Camden is a busy area well known for Camden Lock Market, which is the first site we will encounter along the way. The road has been narrowed therefore to give a wide pavement, some loading areas and a single lane one-way, across a cross-roads, widening to two lanes for a fork until we pass under a railway bridge at the lock. Towards the right is the start of the one-way system in the other direction, A502 Castlehaven Road and leads to the A400 Southbound. The speed limit is 20mph, as it will be for most of the journey, now pretty much a blanket speed limit in the London Borough of Camden.
Now we are in Chalk Farm Road. Morrisons supermarket is on the left and there is a right turn into the B517 Ferdinand Street giving us a few traffic lights. Ferdinand Street is actually a bit of a rat-run or “alternative route” followed by the number 24 bus and following it will lead to the A502 further North. We pass the Roundhouse, a popular concert venue. There are also a lot of smaller music venues in the area. Then at Chalk Farm station the B509 heads off left down Adelaide Road towards Swiss Cottage, while the A502 takes the right branch up Haverstock Hill. There's another set of traffic lights with Prince Of Wales Road on the right, an unclassified road but a fairly main road that leads to the A400 and subsequently the A5202 to Kings Cross. Then there's another set of traffic lights for England's Lane on the left, which leads towards Primrose Hill. Continuing ahead we pass Belsize Park station on the right and the Royal Free Hospital also on the right hand side as we near the junction with the B518 Pond Street. This would take us to Hampstead Heath. East Heath Road, which is the continuation of the B517 but is now unclassified is running parallel to us, and runs by the side of the famous Heath. Keats' House is in Keats Grove around this area. The area is well known for its housing many wealthy celebrities.
We continue on up the hill into the main busy shopping area of Hampstead as Rosslyn Hill becomes Hampstead High Street, and then at Hampstead Station we reach a cross-roads, the worst part of traffic congestion as pedestrians are sharing the phasing and additional pedestrian crossings disrupt the traffic flow. Here we TOTSO to the right into Heath Street.
The road on the left, the B511, is also Heath Street for a short while before becoming Fitzjohn's Avenue. The fourth road (straight ahead), Holly Hill, is one-way in our direction so we can turn right uninhibited. Along Heath Street the road is very narrow and winding and we are still going uphill to the highest point, Hampstead Pond, where we meet up with East Heath Road and all the traffic that has either come from the Heath or cut out Hampstead Station. On the left is West Heath Road which is a useful alternative route to Golders Green and will take us past the Heath Extension and Golders Hill Park, and also provides a link route to the start of the A407 through Platts Lane and Hermitage Lane.
There is a direct entrance to Hampstead Heath on the right hand side, and as we reach the pond there is a mini-roundabout with a very small old sign that the A502 takes the left branch, the right branch being the B519 Hampstead Lane to Highgate past Kenwood. So far we have encountered 5 B-Roads that come off the A502 (B517, B509, B518, B511 and B509) most of them unsigned (if not all) but haven't crossed any A-roads. We now start descending for the first time, down North End Way, with Jack Straw's Castle on the left at the top of the hill, and the Old Bull and Bush pub on the right hand side. As we pass this pub the road changes name to North End Road and we are in Golders Green. It's now the Borough of Barnet, but they have retained the 20mph limit. The park on the left is Golders Hill Park. Hampstead Way on the right leads to Wildwood Road and the Heath Extension and very big houses with more celebrities and other wealthy people. One very famous landmark of the past, Peter Ham's house, is in a road that runs parallel to this one on the left, and George Harrison used to visit him there often. He wrote the classic song "Without You" there. As we approach Golders Green Station, the old home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra is on the right hand side.
Section 2: Hampstead Heath - Hendon
We finally encounter the first A-road we will cross, the A598 (former A500, part of Finchley Road. The junction is a strange mini-roundabout with a lot of traffic lights as you go around. Our speed limit has finally gone up to 30mph. Golders Green Road across is another big shopping area, one of the main Jewish areas of London, with several synagogues and kosher restaurants and shops. There's another set of traffic lights, with Hoop Lane (unclassified) on the right which leads to Meadway and the very nice Hampstead Garden Suburb. We continue through Golders Green Road under the Northern Line which is now above our heads and through a residential area, then another shopping area with Highfield Avenue on the left leading to Brent Cross station which is the first station on the line we don't actually see.
Presently we cross the North Circular Road (A406) at traffic lights where there are no right turns in any direction. Those who want the A406 to be fully grade-separated do not approve of this junction, but plans to improve it have been shelved. At present it is of minor priority because there is a far worse junction just along to the East (on the A1) and often the Eastbound traffic piles back as far as this junction.
The final part of the journey is Brent Street, Hendon. A tiny road on the left just after crossing the River Brent is the unsignposted Shirehall Park, a strange road in that it used to have 4 entrances, although the one with the A406 was closed off. It actually provides the best route through to Brent Cross Shopping Centre, although it is a rat-run to the rat-run of Shirehall Lane at the traffic light on the left for Eastbound traffic avoiding the North Circular. Shirehall Lane also leads to Brent Cross Shopping Centre, which was the first all-indoor shopping mall in the UK, opened in 1976, but the road is unclassified and unsignposted. Left off the mini-roundabout at the green is Queens Road, which is the very short B551, the 6th and final B-road to come off the A502, before we go through the shopping area which has survived in spite of Brent Cross, and arrive at Hendon Quadrant, the junction with the A504. The A502 ends here, as continuing ahead would now be the B552 leading through Mill Hill Village to Arkley. Originally, however, the A502 turned left here and followed what is now the A504 before terminating on the A5.
Original Author(s): Earl Purple