34 – Totteridge ramble 6.9 miles – 5th October

In short: a beautiful rural ramble with stunning views across the countryside on the edge of North London. A variation on the routes we’ve done in this area previously. Free on-street parking; super lunch at a lovely cafe with clean & pleasant toilets. 2 hrs 35 mins walking + 40 mins pitstop.

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Unbelievably we have yet another beautiful sunny day on a Wednesday – perhaps this is karma for all the dreadful wet days we walked earlier in the year? – and we park as we did two weeks ago on Great Bushey Drive in Totteridge, approx postcode N20 8QL.

We start by heading back to the main road, turning left and crossing at the zebra crossing, left and then immediately right at the signpost for the Dollis Valley Greenwalk in the direction of Hampstead Heath. Here the path heads south with the brook on our right. We ignore the first path right across a bridge and continue on until the Greenwalk path itself curves right and across the brook over a bridge. Shortly after we arrive at a gate onto a road, Laurel Way, where we turn right.

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We cross over the first, fairly busy road, Longland Drive, and carry straight on taking the second turning on our right, Lynton Mead. We turn left almost immediately after onto Coppice Walk. At the end of this road, just after the last house on the right we pass through a gap in the hedge and pick up the footpath that runs parallel to the road here. Very soon we pass through some trees and come out past a willow tree to the grassy area beside a village pond on the far side of a quiet cul-de-sac.

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We pass to the right of the pond and take a path on the right between two wooden fences. This soon opens out and heads downhill with hedgerow to the right and fields on both sides. At the foot of the hill there is a gap in the fence on the right and we go through it. Immediately we pass a wide grassy path on our left, and the (easy to miss) path right which we took – eventually – two weeks ago to get to Darlands Lake. This time we head straight on along the beautiful tree-lined path ahead.

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Eventually this leads us to a gate onto a lane with a farm to our right, this is Burtonhole Lane. Ignoring a road off left we reach a junction of roads where we fork right towards Finchley Nursery. The road curves to our right and we pass the nursery buildings on our left, then some light industrial units (possibly a dairy – or other agriculture related?) and we are on a lane which is actually a dead end – leading to a gated large house ahead. Immediately before the gate there is a path right which we take.

This path very soon opens out with gorgeous rural views over open farmland on both sides. Absolutely stunning – quite unbelievable given our location here!

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We carry straight on for a while – very slightly uphill – ignoring paths off right and left, including choosing a path which diagonally cuts across a field, to enter a narrow area of woodland. There is still a field to our right here which is visible through the trees and at the end of this we turn right beside a stream to follow an initially ill-defined path through the trees. (In actual fact we miss this turning initially and continue a little too far on our original path but on retracing our steps the path off is more evident).

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The path through the woods soon becomes more obvious and we follow it for a couple of minutes until we come to a T-junction. We have now arrived at the path around Darlands Lake and we decide to turn right, with the lake on our left and follow the path around.

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On arriving at the far eastern end of the lake we cross the wooden bridge and reach a junction of paths. Here we decide to take the lovely looking path straight ahead, heading uphill again. This is another stunning path with amazing views on both sides and we find ourselves at the top looking back over a near landscape of rolling fields with the Crick Institute in Mill Hill very visible and other landmark buildings on the horizon.

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At the top of the slope we resist the temptation to explore a path off left and turn right and right again taking a path back downhill between two private properties – but still with marvellous views to our right. We expect to be able to cut left at some point to bring us back to the Totteridge duck pond but actually looking at our route later we are too far over by the time we reach the foot of these private gardens.

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The path in fact continues straight on until it reaches more woodland where we are eventually able to turn left through the trees to follow a path beside a brook. We very soon recognise the path we are on – particularly as we clamber over a large tree trunk – and with the brook on our left we soon emerge through a wooded dell at a junction of paths where we turn left. Now we are retracing our path out, and head left again uphill to the fence lined path and the Totteridge duck pond.

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We cross the road here and carefully pick our path back the way we came – there appear to be a choice of paths which we hadn’t noticed on our way out – but we stay on the path with the backs of houses and then a playing field on our left and soon emerge by the last of the houses on Coppice Walk. Following this road to the end we turn right then left onto Laurel Way and after crossing Longland Drive we take the Dollis Valley Greenwalk path left.

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At the end of this path beside the brook we turn right at the main road, cross over and continue past the station to the Waiting Room cafe. Here we enjoy delicious fish finger sandwiches (for two of us) and a lovely halloumi salad for the third – homemade pink lemonade and delicious coffees – before returning along Totteridge Lane to Great Bushey Drive and the car.

Lovely lovely lovely – can’t recommend it highly enough!

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