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Byways to Hampstead

walk to HampsteadWhile East Finchley may be densely populated, you are never far from green spaces. What better way to enjoy peace and quiet and see wild life than the walk to Hampstead. Depending on time of year, look out for kestrels, woodpeckers, comma butterflies and cowslips

The walk starts outside the 'two loos' café near the junction of North Way and Market Place. Enter the gardens on its left and follow the Mutton Brook past tennis courts and the remaining magnificent willow trees, then take the track left over brook and road to enter Big Wood. The right fork gives the shortest way up to Temple Fortune Hill. Emerging from the wood across the old Finchley boundary, turn left up to North Square, where the buildings result from a stormy compromise between Edmund Lutyens and Henrietta Barnett. Notice all the different treatments for windows in the roof in the buildings forming North Square. Skirt the right side of both churches then down to the steps of Heath Gate with its vista of Hampstead Heath Extension. From here you can cross fields originally belonging to Eton College (if muddy, take detour shown) to gain the mediaeval track-way which will take you upward past the ponds and over the road to steps leading around the back of Wyldes Farm, the oldest building in the area.

The path bends leftward to North End cross. Continue the incline forward through the trees. The track leads up and round to the right, emerging at a traffic island. Take Inverforth Close opposite until a sign for the Hill Garden indicates right. Once inside the garden meander through to the Pergola opposite (built from Northern Line excavations and paid for with soap flakes) and follow the top all the way to the spiral steps at the end. Left at the exit rejoins the road.

Continue past Jack Straw's Castle (if still there) to Whitestone Ponds, recently renovated by the Heath and Hampstead Society. Opposite is Hampstead Grove which leads peacefully down to Hampstead and the Tube, past Fenton House and Holly Hill.


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