105 – Dollis Valley, Hampstead Heath, Muswell Hill 15.5 miles – 12th April

In short: our longest walk so far – taxing for that reason – otherwise straightforward and well-paved with the sole exception of the Heath Extension. Public toilets on the Heath – but 8 miles of walking before reaching this point!! Very welcome pitstop at Kenwood House café. 5 hrs 20 mins walking + 30 mins pitstop.

We start by catching a 234 bus from Muswell Hill towards High Barnet and get off at the stop outside the Everyman cinema in Barnet. (With hindsight we should definitely have made use of the toilets in either the cinema or the garage here…!) From here we continue north up the High Road and turn left at the traffic lights onto Underhill and then left again onto Barnet Lane. We walk along here for a couple of minutes till we reach a football pitch and training ground where we turn left just before. We turn right on the path just after the pitch and before an open green space and then left onto the Dollis Valley Greenwalk path at a T junction ahead.

We now follow this path for just over a mile till we reach a main road, Totteridge Lane, which we cross to continue with the path on the far side of the road.

We now continue on this path, crossing Laurel Way, turning right onto Tillingham Way and left on Southover – following the signposted diversion – where we rejoin the path, crossing Argyle Road and Fursby Avenue before exiting onto Dollis Road.

Here we turn right and walk under the railway arch before turning left onto a continuation of the Dollis Valley Greenwalk path. We cross Waverley Grove and Hendon Lane, continuing on our path until we pass under the busy A406 just by the junction with the A1. On arriving at the far side of this road we are unfortunately diverted to walk beside the road as the footpath is undergoing repair.

At the next junction we cross Finchley Road at the traffic lights to continue our path on the far side. We then cross the next road, Addison Road, turning left then almost immediately right into Little Wood. We walk straight through here emerging onto Denman Drive which we follow to the end to then enter Big Wood.

We walk straight through this wood too – ignoring paths off – to come out onto Northway which we cross, following Bigwood Road to the end and coming out onto the Heath extension. Here we turn right on the path and follow it to its end – it really is far too muddy to cross the Heath extension on its central path – where we turn left onto Hampstead Way. Taking the second footpath off left we head to the centre of the Heath extension and the very welcome sight of the public toilets here!

We continue on the path to the end of this space at Wildwood Road where we turn left, continuing on Bigwood Road to the main road, North End Road where we cross at the zebra crossing to enter Golders Hill Park. Just after the small car park we turn left on the park path to exit at a gate, cross a path and climb some steps to re-enter the Heath. We continue on this path to the entrance to the Hill Garden and Pergola where we enter and follow the path around to the ornamental pond and up the steps to the pergola and its spectacular views.

After walking through the pergola around the outside of the fabulous house and garden, we descend the spiral staircase and continue on the path that heads south away from the house and garden. Here we spot a gorgeous green woodpecker and try desperately to catch him on camera…

…but he is too well camouflaged, especially on this gloomy day. We continue on and bear left and slightly uphill towards the Whitestone pond and the junction just beside it. Here we cross at the zebra crossings and turn left beside the roundabout before re-entering the Heath via a path on our right.

Continuing straight on this path we soon join a wider well surfaced path which arrives from our left. We continue straight on at a junction and then shortly after bearing left through some woods to pick up another wide well surfaced path which eventually brings us out to Kenwood House.

Here we make a well-deserved pitstop to enjoy a super scone and coffee before continuing straight on past the viewpoint and then right, which leads us downhill towards the ponds. After passing the entrance to the Ladies’ Bathing Pond we continue on towards the Highgate ponds which we pass on their left.

After the third pond we follow the path left and pass the last pond on our left to reach the public toilets at the foot of the hill. After making use of the facilities we return on the path we just took but this time passing the Highgate ponds on our right. We bear left on a path after the third pond, forking right soon after to head broadly uphill back to the gate into the Kenwood estate. We continue straight on here up towards Kenwood House again and turn right just before reaching the house. We pass the viewpoint one more time and this time then turn left out onto Hampstead Lane.

Here we cross at the zebra crossing, turn right and then left onto Sheldon Avenue. At the end of this road we turn right onto Denewood Road then left onto View Road. Crossing the lights at North Hill we carry straight on along Church Road to Archway Road. Here we cross at the pedestrian crossing and enter Highgate Wood ahead.

We carry straight on along the path here – generally tending towards the main road but staying on the path through the woods before emerging onto Muswell Hill Road at the far gates. Here we go our separate ways and I continue straight on uphill into Muswell Hill town centre and from there to home.

All in all a very useful workout from the point of view of getting miles into our legs – mostly appealing if somewhat functional in parts. Now we really can’t wait for some better weather to tackle some more exciting routes!!

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