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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Capital Ring: Day 11: Hendon Park to Highgate

A vandalised Capital Ring signpost where Dollis Brook and Mutton Brook merge to form the River Brent
A vandalised Capital Ring signpost where Dollis Brook and Mutton Brook merge to form the River Brent

Up to this point, the Capital Ring is way marked to an excellent degree – indeed, the only real problem is when the local retards decide to twist the signs through 90 degrees, but at least the signs are there in the first place. For most of this leg, then, it's a surprise to find that the way markers are conspicuous by their absence, and after being lulled into a sense of security by the preceding ten days, it's a bit of a shock. Luckily, the guidebook for the Ring is almost anal in its description of turning right here and veering left there, so it's easy enough to pick up the trail, and there are still some markers every now and then to make sure you're on the right track.

Hampstead

Northway Gardens
Northway Gardens

The reason: this is Hampstead Garden Suburb, one of the most affluent parts of London, and it shows. The houses are instantly a step up from most other suburbs on the Ring, and though it might irritate those of us with socialist tendencies, there's no denying that the Ring now treads lightly through some stunning suburbs. The first real taste of this is Northway Gardens, a manicured strip of parkland along the now reinvigorated Mutton Brook, which incorporates yew trees, tennis courts and a surprisingly large number of men wearing skull caps and wide-brimmed black hats. After a quick jaunt through Lyttleton Playing Fields the reason becomes apparent, as the Ring hangs a left past Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue, and then the real fun starts, for this is where Hampstead kicks in big time.

Posh houses in East Finchley
Posh houses in East Finchley