77 – Hampstead Heath meander 5.7 miles – 22nd August

In short: a lovely gentle meander around the ever stunning Heath. Free on street parking, plentiful clean public toilets and reliably good Kenwood cafe. 2 hrs 10 mins walking + 30 mins pitstop.

With neither of us feeling particularly well today but both wanting to escape the confines of the house we decide to head to the safety of the Heath – proximity to home, plentiful toilets and the option to make the walk as long or as short as we can manage, all combine to make this the ‘safe’ option.

We park on Bishops Avenue, approx postcode N2 0BJ. Some of the more extensive building works seem to have finally been completed so the enormous number of construction vehicles usually parked here has somewhat diminished.

We head straight on towards the Kenwood entrance onto the Heath – right at the junction with Hampstead Lane and then immediately left into the entrance. We follow this path to Kenwood House where we turn right in front of the building and then left just past it to make use of the public toilets and then carry on along the path inside the park boundaries down towards the lake.

We pass to the left of the lake and continuing on through the trees we emerge at the boundary fence of the Kenwood estate and exit through the gate. We carry straight on here steadily downhill eventually heading towards the Highgate ponds.

As we bear left onto the path towards the ponds we pass a small pond on our left and then go to the far side of the pond on our right to walk along the path on it’s far side.

We continue to pass yet another pond, passing the Men’s Bathing Area as we go and then bearing right to circle the bottom end of this pond with yet another on our left.

With this last pond now on our left we carry straight on towards the children’s playground and tennis courts to make use of the toilet facilities before heading right to pass the cafe, athletics track and paddling pool. At the end of this path we turn right and head uphill passing the backs of houses and ends of roads on our left.

We ignore paths off right and left until we reach the boundary fence of Kenwood again where we decide to swing left as we are not quite ready to finish our walk just yet.

To be honest we are just following our noses and chatting at this point and we soon find ourselves on the path leading to the view over the Vale of Health. At this point we realise we have come a bit too far over to the west of the Heath so we decide to retrace our steps.

This we do until we come to an open space with a barely discernible path on its far side leading up and in the general direction we want.

At the end of this path we enter woods and pass the almost hidden gated entrance to an extensive property. Gradually this path brings us out to the main road, Spaniards Road, which we follow for a few yards before taking a path off right which leads down and back onto the Heath.

At the foot of this rough path we join a well-made track and turn left eventually passing through gates with the famous Henry Moore statue on our right.

We continue straight on as we are now on the path leading to Kenwood House and here we stop for a well-deserved pitstop of fresh scones and coffee. Making use one last time of the public toilets we retrace our initial steps back to the Kenwood car park entrance and out, onto Bishops Avenue to where our car is parked. A lovely breath of fresh air – and quite a decent walk – without at any point feeling strenuous and always within easy reach of the end if we had decided to cut it short. A proper tonic!

 

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