20 – Mill Hill loop via Totteridge 5.1 miles – 13th June

In short: an absolutely gorgeous and extremely wet walk – the photos definitely don’t do it justice. No public toilets en route although we have used those at Belmont Children’s Farm before (at the start of this walk); lovely pub lunch with decent coffee and toilets at the end; plentiful free on street parking. 2 hrs 20 mins walking + 40 min pitstop. 

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A combination of circumstances and commitments this week meant walking on a Monday morning – according to the weather forecast this should have been one of the dry points of the week. Unfortunately this couldn’t have been more wrong as it quite frankly varied from murky drizzle to pouring down for the whole 2 hours plus. Nevertheless it was self evidently a beautiful walk – we just can’t wait to redo it on a nicer day.

We park opposite the Three Hammers pub in Mill Hill village, postcode NW7 4EA. Parking is free here on Hammers Lane and there are no restrictions. We are following an AA walk from their 50 Walks in London book – the book itself only just surviving the soaking!

We turn right out of Hammers Lane, onto the Ridgeway, passing round the Three Hammers pub and alongside the war memorial, crossing the road here to Sheepwash pond on the far side. We keep along this side of the Ridgeway, passing opposite the very grand portals of Mill Hill School, past some charming cottages and in front of the Francis Crick Institute – ignoring a couple of turnings off to the right.

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Just after the Francis Crick Institute we take a left onto Burtonhole Lane. Due to a little too much chatting we initially take a wrong turning here but soon retrace our steps to take the lane opposite Hillview Road, signposted for Finchley Nurseries. The lane bends to the right past the entrance to the nursery and continues straight on to a gate and what appears to be a dead end. Just in front of the locked wooden gate to Folly Farm ahead there is a footpath off to the right here which we take, and immediately find ourselves on a path through lovely countryside.

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Here we are following alongside Folly Brook to our right until we turn left at a junction of paths in front of a kissing gate and take a path heading steadily uphill with a couple of enormous houses ahead (one of which had a helicopter landing and then taking off somewhere on its property whilst we were walking, much to our great entertainment!)

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This path eventually brings us out, via a metal gate, onto Totteridge Common road between the village ponds. Here we cross the road and turn right taking the path parallel to the road until we reach Horseshoe Lane where we turn left.

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After passing some lovely houses the lane finishes and we cross a stile to follow a path beside a field bordered by a hedgerow on our left. We keep to the path passing through hedge gaps and across two more fields until on entering the third field the path follows the line of some telegraph poles up to a bridge across a brook ahead.

At this point we have reached Dollis brook and therefore the Dollis Valley Greenwalk – which is generally pretty well signposted and is also part of the London Loop which has distinctive green signs. We turn left here – before the bridge – to follow the path along the field edge with the brook on our right.

We then continue along this path through the trees ahead and along the edge of fields and meadows, (about 6 – with stiles, gates and plank bridges linking them all). This section is just divine – meadows absolutely bursting with wild flowers and grasses – even the odd butterfly braving the foul weather.

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Eventually we come to a footbridge to the right of a stile with steps ahead after the bridge which we climb, go over a stile ourselves and come out on the edge of a cricket field. We skirt the edge of the field and very soon pass through a gap in the hedge – not very clearly marked for the London Loop etc – and immediately find ourselves at the entrance to Totteridge Fields, a nature reserve managed by the London Wildlife Trust.

We take the left fork in the paths here, just after the information board for the Reserve and cross a footbridge into the meadow. This is another gorgeous space – no doubt swarming with butterflies when the sun is out!

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We wade our way through the long wet grass that lines the path across this meadow and the one beyond to come out through a kissing gate at a road junction. Here we cross the road (Totteridge Common again) at the traffic island and turn right onto the pavement ahead, almost immediately taking the footpath on our left which is up the bank and signposted for Mill Hill.

This pretty tree-lined path runs alongside the Belmont Children’s farm and brings us out eventually into a paddock with some exotic looking sheep and very North London style topiary bushes!

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After crossing this field, keeping to the path along it’s right hand side, we go through a kissing gate and into a final field where we climb a slight hill to the double kissing gates onto the road ahead. We cross the road here and turn left at the public footpath sign to The Ridgeway. Shortly after rejoining the road we turn into the park that runs alongside the road, Mill Field, and follow the path – trying to admire the excellent view across North West London – just discerning the Wembley Arch through the gloom!

On leaving the park we find ourselves almost back at Hammers Lane and the Three Hammers pub. Here we make the most of a warm welcome (not to be sniffed at given the state of us after this sodden walk!) and the most delicious fish finger sandwiches, chips and coffee – really yummy and very well-deserved!!

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