7 – Mill Hill to Sunnyhill Park 7.9 miles – 16th March

In short: town and country route with bridle paths and pavements; an amazing new cafe find! Public toilets in the parks. 2 hrs 40 mins walking + 45 min pitstop.

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Three of us set off on Wednesday morning to do something different – joining together various spots in North London that we know and exploring a park I have visited once or twice, Sunnyhill Park in Hendon. We used the body of a walk I found on the Walking World website but started and ended it differently.

We drive to Walmington Fold, close to the mini roundabout junction with Fursby Avenue in North Finchley where there is plenty of free parking, postcode N12 7LD. We turn left at the roundabout onto Fursby Avenue and take the footpath on our right, signposted for the Dollis Valley Greenwalk.

This initial part of the walk we did a few weeks ago when we walked the Dollis Valley Greenwalk and we pass some allotments, cross a bridge over the brook alongside some tennis courts and recross the bridge to a junction of paths. At this point we take the path straight on from the bridge, ignoring the Dollis Valley Greenwalk off to our left. This path takes us between bushes and trees through the middle of Finchley Golf course. We continue straight on, ignoring paths to left and right which access the golf course and come to a tarmacced road. Again we continue straight on, past the clubhouse and reach a road, Frith Lane, where we turn right.

We follow this road uphill slightly, past a couple of new housing developments on our left and just as the road bends round to the right we take a left onto Partingdale Lane. After a couple of minutes this road bends sharply right and almost immediately after we pick up a bridleway to the right, this is Burtonhole Lane. The lane passes to the right of an electricity substation and to our right are lovely rural views across rolling fields.

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We follow this, very muddy, lane past the electricity plant and at the end of a further field it bends sharply left, with a path off to the right signposted to Totteridge (to explore another day perhaps?). The path continues to be extremely muddy and shortly we arrive at Burtonhole farm on our right – complete with a rider on horseback today who very kindly allowed us to pet her beautiful horse.

We ignore a couple of turnings to our right, Hillview Road and Eleanor Crescent, and pass the signs to Finchley Nurseries, continuing on the road past the National Institute for Medical Research onto the main road here, The Ridgeway. We turn right here, continuing past the buildings of the Francis Crick Research centre and crossing a couple of side roads until we come to a junction with the church of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star ahead of us. We cross the road here, passing the church to our right and the Mill Hill village pond to our left. There is a row of pretty almshouses ahead of us on the opposite side of the road and we turn right in front of them onto the High Street.

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We turn left almost immediately onto Wills Grove and pass several of the buildings and playing fields of Mill Hill School. At this point we should have taken a path off to the left signposted to Wise Lane which apparently crosses Arrandene Open Space just here, bringing us out onto Wise Lane (* see below), however we must have missed this footpath and instead continue on this rather lovely residential street until its junction with Wise Lane at the bottom of the hill.

We turn left here and walk along Wise Lane with Mill Hill Park on our right (I know there are public toilets here but mercifully we didn’t feel the need to go and check them out today!). Just before turning right onto Page Street we see the steps exiting Arrandene Open Space on our right (*) which is where we should be!

Walking down Page Street we pass Copthall school on our left, cross Pursley Road at the roundabout and pass the entrance to Chase Lodge playing fields on our left. We turn left onto Champions Way – the entrance to the Barnet Copthall complex, comprising Mill Hill rugby club (immediately on our left) numerous playing fields and Allianz Park, Saracens’ home ground.

As the road curves around to the left we take a tarmacced path beside a hedge on our right. This leads directly down alongside a playing field to the busy A1. On reaching the main road there is a subway which we use to cross it and on arriving at the other side of the road we enter Sunnyhill Park via the entrance to the left of the subway. This is a lovely hilly park – even on a gloomy day such as this – and we follow the path straight to the children’s playground where we turn right and head to the cafe in a wooden building directly ahead.

This cafe was new to all three of us – and wow what a terrific discovery. As is our wont we intended to have a mid-morning coffee and pastry but were soon tempted (primarily due to the lack of any of our usual snacks) to have the speciality of the house, Shakshuka. This was a simply delicious breakfast/lunch dish of eggs cooked in a gorgeous spiced tomato and pepper sauce. We were all tempted by the goats cheese variation, all served with fresh tasty pitta bread and a small salad (which utterly defeated most of us!). This alone was well worth the whole walk…!

After the best part of an hour, and having availed ourselves of the clean and decent toilets inside the cafe (there seemed to be at least a disabled loo outside so presumably facilities available to those not using the cafe – although why would you not?!) we head back along the path to the playground and then carry straight on up the hill to the park exit on Sunny Gardens Road.

We cross the road and continue along Meadow Drive to its junction with Downage where we turn left. This takes us down to the A1 and we walk alongside it to the traffic lights which we cross and then immediately cross Holders Hill Road to go back up the A1 to the second turning on the right, Ashley Lane. We walk along this road until it turns into Woodside Close and as the road turns sharply right we take the path straight ahead, Ashley Walk. This is another path through a golf course, Hendon this time, and we ignore all paths to left and right onto the golf course till we get to the road at the end and turn immediately right onto Oakhampton Road.

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We follow this to a turning on the left which brings us out onto Devonshire Road. Turning right here we go straight on to the roundabout and cross over to Dollis Road on the far side. We follow this road around the bend, across a bridge until just after passing under the railway viaduct we pick up the Dollis Valley Greenwalk path on the left. We enter a lovely green semi-wooded area here and follow the path with Finchley Golf club once again on our left. The path follows the brook until we arrive back at the bridge with the junction near the tennis club which we remember from the way out. Here we choose the path on the left hand side of the brook and follow it back and eventually out onto Fursby Avenue. We turn left and then right onto Walmington Fold back to the car.

[Photos this week courtesy of Alison – thank you!]

 

 

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