In short: a simple local walk but nonetheless lovely. Kenwood House cafe is ideal for coffee and a scone; well-maintained public toilets and free parking. 1 hr 45 mins walking + 30 min pitstop.
Limited time and continuing rubbish weather led us to choose an easy local walk this week – basically a pleasant stroll on Hampstead Heath.
We park on Bishops Avenue which is free and reasonably plentiful if you don’t mind a 5 minute walk to the Kenwood entrance onto the Heath. The postcode for where we park today is N2 0BJ.
We walk along Bishops Avenue, past two or three enormous building sites to the traffic lights at the T-junction with Hampstead Lane. Here we cross, turn right and then almost immediately turn left onto the Heath at the Kenwood House car park. Technically at this point we are in the grounds of Kenwood House but passing onto and off of the Heath is easy and free to access.
We walk along the path as it curves left and then right with bushes on both sides leading down to Kenwood House itself. We turn right just in front of the house and take the path that skirts around it to join the wide path running across the back of the house. We turn left onto the path with the ornamental lake away over to our right and continue on this past the steps down to the cafe and toilets, and turning right in the general direction of the left hand side of the lake, keeping within the Kenwood grounds.
We pass the cafe hut on our left and enter a wooded area straight ahead at the bottom of a small hill. We keep straight on along this path until it emerges at the edge of the Kenwood park with a huge dead tree in front of us and a view across to the city beyond. We turn left here and walk towards a lake (Stock Pond) ahead on our left.
After passing the lake we turn right onto a path running along the backs of houses with a wooden fence on the left. We pass the women’s bathing pond on our right until we are about to join a road coming from the left and we turn right here towards a large pond – currently lots of construction work going on on the far side which is a bit ugly – but we ignore that and turn left to walk along the near side of the pond.
We continue straight on to a second pond, passing the entrance to the men’s bathing pond and turning right at the end of the pond with a third, smaller pond on our left. We turn left after a small slope onto a main paved path and continue straight on to the toilet buildings and lido entrance ahead, passing a small children’s playground and tennis courts further over on our left.
We turn right in front of the toilets and walk past the cafe, the athletics track and a larger playground with a paddling pool. We turn right just before the end of a road abutting the Heath and head uphill on the path here. At the brow of the hill we turn right onto a path in front of a hedgerow until at a break in the hedge there are steps onto a narrow path uphill. This is Parliament Hill – with its famous and exhilirating view from the top (even on a murky day!):
We continue straight on here downhill along the narrow path to a clump of bushes ahead.
At a junction of paths in the middle of these bushes and trees we bear left onto a path which currently runs between hoardings for the two construction sites. We cross two paths; the Highgate ponds that we walked past before are at the bottom of the sloping ground away to our right and eventually we reach the entrance back into Kenwood on our left which we previously came through.
And so we return through the woods and back up the path along the side of the lake towards Kenwood House ahead of us.
We make very good use of the Kenwood House cafe – great for (OKish) coffee and a delicious scone, but slightly overpriced for anything more substantial. It’s outside terrace is however a lovely place to sit – even in a light drizzle!
Leaving the cafe we retrace our steps past Kenwood House and away back past the car park to Hampstead Lane and left at the lights again onto Bishops Avenue where we are parked. A really lovely and very local stroll – brightening up a gloomy grey week!