91 – Hampstead Heath meander (again) 5.1 miles – 29th November

In short: a brief but satisfying stroll around the Heath – long enough to clear the cobwebs away but perfect for a day when we are both short of time! Gloomy but not especially wet – we keep to main paths and nothing is too muddy. Free on-street parking, plentiful public toilets at Kenwood House and on the Heath. Fabulous Kenwood café as ever. 2 hrs walking + 30 mins pitstop.

We start by parking on Bishop’s Avenue – approx postcode N2 0BJ – and walk immediately south to the junction with Hampstead Lane where we turn right and then left into the entrance to Kenwood House, indicated by the English Heritage signage.

We follow the main path down to the House where we turn right and walk through to the back of the house and the views over the ornamental lake.

We turn left and follow the path as it curves right to stay within the boundary of the Kenwood estate, heading gently downhill to woodland ahead.

Emerging from the woodland we leave the Kenwood estate to enter the Heath proper – and immediately are confronted by the dramatic skyline ahead.

We continue downhill, following the main path ahead, until our path joins another arriving from the right just after our own path has curved to the left. We now have one of the famous Heath ponds in front of us – with another one to our left behind a fence.

We pass between the 2 ponds and turn right at the far end to walk around the large pond all the way to the end where we turn right to pass once again between two ponds.

We then turn left with the third pond to our left, immediately followed by a fourth. At the end of this path we continue straight on with a children’s playground, tennis courts and a toilet block in front of us. After making use of the clean, well looked-after public toilets (very cold water and cold air hand dryers notwithstanding!) we continue – turning left on leaving the toilets.

We pass a café, athletics track and adventure playground before turning right to follow the path as it heads uphill. At the brow of the hill we carry straight on – and straight on again at a crossroads of paths. This path hugs a line of trees to our left, heading gently uphill.

At the next junction of paths we take a left and then shortly after a right and find ourselves passing over a bridge across another pond.

We carry straight on at this point, following the path as it curves to our left and then meets another path at a fork.

Here we turn a fairly sharp right to follow this path which undulates through trees until we turn left to join a main wide well surfaced path.

This path has lovely views downhill to our right – a grassy meadow with plenty of trees and the woods in the distance. We bear right at a fork with a white building on the hill in front of us and this brings us round to a gate back into the Kenwood estate. Here we turn left and walk back to the House to make use of the lovely café for a delicious coffee and fresh scone.

After a restorative pitstop we retrace our steps around the House and back towards the main entrance on Hampstead Lane and across to Bishop’s Avenue where we are parked.

A perfectly satisfying midweek local stroll!

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