Capital Ring 11

Well we are back once again at the walk around London and this time Hendon to Highgate Station and one of the better sections, here’s why…

We started off back at Hendon Park – avoiding Heroine Needle Bridge this time and instead headed from the station south and through the park, coffee in hand and on towards The CR’s favourite – The north Circular Rd, via some rather odd twists taking you down one road only to bring you back up the next, which we followed thinking there must be a reason – there isn’t!

When you get to the River Brent and a rather odd little turret with some plastic chairs in it, there is an entrance to a small estate, that looks like a nursing home, take this path and don’t walk on to the main road as the map tells you to, unless you like the writer of the CR are also a lover of really loud and busy roads, because the actual route is not clear and seems to send you along the dangerous and fuming road to find a small path over the River Brent, whereas the path alongside the nursing home is quieter (somewhat) and safer, if a little strange and like walking through people’s back gardens.

Once along side the Brent (another frequent landmark on the CR) you follow it, avoiding the crap filled water and the abundance of discarded shopping trolleys and on along a nice little park, it’s a shame the noises main road is close and so loud. The Decoy Lake is a decent size and the walk around is is fine, then you head across the road and into the Dollis Valley Greenwalk, a piece of park alongside the stream and behind the fine houses. A tunnel under the North Circular and on through more woodlands, which finally brings you out on one of the busiest junctions in London where the North Circ, A405, Finchley Rd and A1 all conjoin.

If you’re ever stuck in traffic on a Friday night, on the A1 while trying to get up to get the M1 or M25 and you look down on and see grass and trees and wonder where that goes or how you’d ever get down there, well this will answer your question. The path meanders around trees and paths, until to finally turns off and into the infamous Hampstead Garden Suburbs, the purposely built suburb of North London, built in the 1900’s to provide more homes of different sizes and shapes with more greenery and outdoor space for the upwardly mobile working class of the city and still today it is a pretty and stylish, even quirky little area filled with pretty red brick houses and a lot of green spaces.

A short walk along the roads before turning into another park and along lush lawns and pleasant gardens, tennis courts and the pretty stream between more of HGS homes, across roads that run off the A1. Then into Lyttelton Playing Fields, where we took a little break and contemplated coffee from the cafe but we had a plan and so left it in favour of…

You exit the park and walk back onto the A1 – just in case you were missing the excessive noise and Carbon Monoxide of all those cars, across the road, avoiding the 100’s of Kids leaving school at 3.30!! Over to another side road and another and another between more and more nice houses until you find a path that leads to East Finchley Station, where you are meant to walk through to get out onto the A1000, but we went on and straight into The Old White Lion, because it claims to be ‘The Best Craft Beer Pub in all of Finchley and Hampstead’ – in short it is not, it had one Pale Ale and Neck Oil on tap, that is not Craft Beer and it was staffed by idiots to boot.

After a hurried pint, we resumed our walk after observing the statue of an Art-Deco Archer on the Station’s bridge (Why is this mentioned in the guide?) and headed into Cherry Tree Wood, where we met a friendly squirrel and a number of dogs. The park is rather nice and one to return to at some point, but that day we just carried on out the other side along roads and on towards Highgate Woods. Which we got to via more residential roads.

Once into the woods we tried to befriend more squirrels, with some success but then a keen hunter charged through and got rid of them all (A dog!) Highgate woods is a large place and one we frequent occasionally so we detoured a bit as the CR takes you up towards the road as soon as possible, whereas we stayed deep in the trees for as long as possible before crossing Muswell Hill Rd and into the Queen’s Wood, the oldest part of all the Heath and Woodlands, a giant hollow in effect, so you travel down shallow steps and then up a steep slope to find yourself on Priory Gardens before climbing another steep slope and emerging by Jackson’s Lane and the Tube station and the end of part 11.

In all a nice walk, that once again could have been better if it had tried to avoid rather than embrace the North Circular and any main road it got near.

But in the end we were tired and headed home ready to take on a more familiar section the next week. For you’ll need to watch this space and come back in the meantime for more coffee shop reviews of our walks and other stuff!

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