39 – Hampstead Heath short stroll 4.8 miles – 9th November

In short: a simple, undemanding stroll on the Heath, taking in Kenwood House, the Highgate ponds and Parliament Hill. 1 hr 40 mins walking + 30 mins pitstop.

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Neither of us were feeling too brilliant this morning – autumn colds and other various ailments were taking their toll – and yet we felt fresh air would do us both good. The Heath of course – our ultimate fall back – and so very local.

We park as ever on Bishops Avenue – well away from the ongoing building works – approx postcode N2 0BJ – and head in the direction of the Heath via the Kenwood House entrance. Turning right onto Hampstead Lane at the lights we therefore take the entrance immediately on the left.

We follow the path to the front entrance of the house taking the path just before the building and turning left onto the path that runs behind it with the view of the ornamental pond over to our right.

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We continue on this path bearing right to run around the edge of the estate and downhill towards the left hand corner of the lake, and on through a wood to emerge at the far gate into Kenwood. Exiting here we carry straight on with trees on our right, bearing left at a point where a path joins us from the right.

Here we are heading to the first and second of the Highgate ponds and we take the path straight on which heads between two ponds. The extensive landscaping works that have been ongoing here now appear to be almost finished and the vista around the right of these two ponds has been beautifully opened out. We turn right at the pond’s edge and follow the path around with the water on our right. Turning right again at the far end of the pond we take another path that once again runs between two ponds. The one to our left now is the men’s bathing pond and indeed there is a brave soul diving in on this cold, grey and miserable morning.

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We turn left at the junction of paths and continue keeping the ponds on our left until we emerge at a more open green space with the toilet and cafe buildings ahead once we crest the small hill.

We turn right in front of the toilet block and head away from the playground and tennis courts towards the athletics track, the larger playground and the paddling pool. At the end of this path we turn right and head uphill with the grassy meadow on our right. At the top of the hill we turn sharp right and head back parallel to the path at the bottom, this time with beautiful views across the London skyline from our raised vantage point.

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We ignore paths off to the right and left and eventually head downhill back to the junction of paths at the end of the run of Highgate Ponds. Here we turn left and start to head back the way we came – this time without circling any of the ponds and simply keeping them on our right. At the T-junction of paths just in front of the final pond we turn left and take the path we came down on, bearing right at the fork to return to the gate into the Kenwood estate and back towards the House.

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Here we take advantage of the lovely cafe for a super-sized scone & coffee before heading out of the estate along the same path we came in on, out to Hampstead Lane, right and then immediately left at the lights onto Bishops Avenue and back to the car.

 

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