57 – Mill Hill and Totteridge loop 4.9 miles – 29th March

In short: a reprise of walk no 20 but with slightly better weather conditions. Mostly firm underfoot but with a couple of very squelchy exceptions so worth wearing proper waterproof boots. No public toilets en route – albeit we believe there are some accessible at the Belmont Children’s Farm at the start. Lovely pub lunch and smart toilets at the end. 2 hrs 5 mins walking + 40 mins pitstop.

We had promised ourselves back in June to return to this walk and try it on a dry day and so we find ourselves parking on Hammers Lane opposite the Three Hammers pub, postcode NW7 4EA. Unfortunately, whilst it’s dry today it’s very overcast so once again the photos don’t do justice to the lovelier parts of this walk.

We are once again following the Mill Hill and Totteridge walk from the AA’s book of 50 London Walks. (The book is slightly the worse for wear after it’s soaking last time out!)

We walk back up Hammers Lane to the Ridgeway where we turn right, crossing at the war memorial to Sheepwash pond on the far side. After passing the Francis Crick Institute on our left we turn left onto Burtonhole Lane which we walk along to a junction where we turn left towards the signposted Finchley Nurseries.

We follow this track past the entrance to the nurseries and an electricity sub-station to the entrance to Folly Farm where we turn sharp right on a footpath. Immediately we find ourselves in lovely rolling countryside with beautiful views on both sides.

We follow this tree-lined path through trees beside Folly Brook to our right until we come to a junction of paths at a kissing gate where we turn left and head uphill on a path.

At the top of the hill after passing a substantial property on our right we reach a road, Totteridge Common, emerging between the two village ponds.

Here we cross the road and turn right onto the path that runs in front of the houses until we reach Horseshoe Lane where we turn left. At the end of this road a footpath begins at a stile and we follow this downhill on the left hand edge of the field.

We pass through hedge gaps and along a couple more fields – including some very muddy sections – until we reach a field with telegraph poles running across. Here we follow the line of the poles on a path across a field to a bridge across a brook – Dollis Brook. We turn left here in front of the brook and start to follow the Dollis Valley Greenwalk at this point.

This section – which was gorgeous last year with long grasses and wildflowers in all the meadows that we passed – is a little more prosaic this time around as the grass is short and it’s too early in the season for the wildflowers. However it does afford some lovely vistas with lines of trees outlining the slopes to our left.

We pass through half a dozen fields with the brook on our right – sticking with the Dollis Valley Greenwalk  and ignoring a path off to the right at a field junction.

After a while we come to a footbridge which we cross, climb a few steps and cross a stile, coming out at the edge of a cricket field which circle to the left. At a gap in the hedge we turn left and continue along the main path which bears right here.  Very soon we find ourselves at the entrance to Totteridge Fields nature reserve which we enter – deviating here from the Dollis Valley Greenwalk and the London Loop to cross the two fields of the reserve.

At the gate leading out of the reserve we turn left and cross the road, Totteridge Lane, turning right on the far pavement and almost immediately taking the footpath signed on our left.

This leads us on a tree lined path past and then through a section of the Belmont Children’s Farm. There are no animals in the field today but still a lovely view of the ornamental trees…

We walk on the right hand side of these two fields and exit at the top right hand corner onto the road, Highwood Hill, which we cross to take a short footpath on the left cutting through to a cul-de-sac, Holcombe Hill and from there to The Ridgeway. We bear right here past some impressive buildings to a park on our right hand side which we enter and follow the path parallel to the road to enjoy the views across north-west London – including the famous Wembley Arch.

On emerging from the park we find ourselves at the junction with Hammers Lane and opposite the Three Hammers pub. Here we stop for a well-deserved fish finger sandwich and a soft drink (probably best to draw a veil over the coffee…). Better weather than last time – albeit grey – and a lovely local walk around some ‘London countryside’.

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