41 – Short Darland’s Lake circuit 4.2 miles – 30 November

In short: an abbreviated version of walk number 32 as I was ill earlier in the week and a bit low in energy. A beautiful frosty winter’s morning – crisp hard ground, a fair amount of pavement walking followed by a lovely pitstop on a favourite cafe. 1 hr 45 mins walking + 30 mins pitstop.

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We park as usual on Great Bushey Drive in Totteridge, postcode N20 8QL, near Totteridge and Whetstone tube station. We walk back down this road and turn left at the junction with Totteridge Lane, crossing at the zebra crossing and continuing left to the footpath sign off right for the Dollis Valley Greenwalk in the direction of Hampstead Heath.

We follow the footpath beside the brook, ignoring the first bridge over it on our right and taking the second, after which the path continues with the brook on our left.

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At the gate at the end of this section of footpath we turn right onto Laurel View. At the crossroads ahead we go straight on to Laurel Way, taking the second turning on the right onto Lynton Mead. We then turn left onto Coppice Walk and continue along here to the final house on the right hand side. Just after this last house there is a gap in the hedge through to a footpath which runs parallel to the road which we take, walking through trees till it opens out with a willow tree in front and we go ahead to the road, which is Totteridge Green.

We cross here and pick up the path on the far side which runs left in front of the houses down to the duck pond. This is especially beautiful today with the heavy frost – and is in fact still at least half iced over at this time in the morning.

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The path runs to the right of the pond and veers right beside a wooden fence. We follow this for a short way till we are beyond the garden of the last house and suddenly we are in the rolling Hertfordshire countryside – or so it very much seems!

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We follow the path to the bottom of the slope where there is a junction and we turn right to cross the little stream here. Almost immediately we turn right again into the trees following a path which is often extremely muddy but today is hard with frost. Emerging from the wood we pass to the right of a meadow before entering another wood where the path runs alongside Folly Brook – including one point where we have to clamber over a large fallen tree trunk. All this time there are gorgeous wintry farmland views to our left.

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After crossing the brook on a footbridge we turn right on the main path, cross a second bridge and then turn left at a T-junction (albeit we mistakenly take a few steps right here before we quickly realise our mistake!) This path brings us, after a staggered junction, to a footbridge which we cross, and from which we have a magical view across Darland’s Lake.

We circuit the lake to the left (with the water to our right) all the way round and back to the footbridge where we started.

We now return to the staggered junction and take the wide grassy uphill path on our left which we remember from previous walks as giving beautiful views – and this is indeed the case again today.

As we head uphill there is a flock of green budgerigars flying in and out of the trees on both sides of the path – very bright against the frost. Then – just as we reach the brow of the hill – we spot something magical – a gorgeous little owl in the fork of a tree just to our left. We stop transfixed…try to take a photo (he is there honestly – the fluffy white blob on a stump in the fork):

…and then he flies off – all beautiful white wingspan; an unexpected treat.

At the top of the hill we bear right onto a path alongside some gardens on our right, emerging at a gate onto a private road. We hope that turning right onto this road will allow us to come out onto Totteridge Green but unfortunately this is not the case as it’s a cul-de-sac so we retrace our steps and head out of the main gate onto a road alongside the pub, The Orange Tree. We pass in front of the pub, cross the side road to walk in front of the village school and then walk straight along Totteridge Lane for a good 10 minutes, passing Great Bushey Drive on our left and continuing until we reach the ever lovely Waiting Room cafe on our left, just after Totteridge & Whetstone tube station.

We make a brief but delightful pitstop – banana cake and a delicious coffee – before returning to the car. A really beautiful frosty treat of a walk.

 

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