I have been stepping out at work as part of a campaign called Get the World Moving. This is a global initiative that targets employee well-being in businesses, getting companies to sign up and submit some employee teams in order to encourage more activity on a day-to-day basis. The short story is the ‘target’ is 10,000 steps each day for 100 days and I am just below that at an average (at day 52) of 9,585, a substantial improvement on where I started.
Wearing a pedometer and recording the results each day is really fascinating with even the fit freaks amongst us (you know marathon runners, triathletes and the like) uniformly horrified at how sedentary our daily lives are. Whilst my activity is reasonable during the week, walking on my daily commute with one or two swims to top this up (each of my 1,600m dips adds 7,600 steps), it has particularly inspired me to do some sort of walking activity on the weekend whether this is just walking further to do errands, or even a walking tour or two. You see I do like to disappear into Chez Gidday on the weekend and though I might be busy, if I don’t leave the house I am flat out reaching 3,000 steps.
So armed with my Walkit app, I set out in yesterday’s mild sunshine and discovered some more of Finchley’s hidden gems.
I started by turning off the main road into the rather whimsically named Lovers Walk. As I ventured further away from Ballards Lane, the houses seemed to recede until it felt like a woodland path rather than a suburban shortcut.
I crossed the railway bridge, made a quick dog leg across Nether Street and continued beneath the leafy canopy to find a trickling stream – Dollis Brook to be exact…
…and a lovely patch of green sprawled under a cotton-cloud sky.
Turning left I continued along the Dollis Valley Greenwalk, the path patchworked with summer sunshine and dappled shade.
The brook continued its calm, rhythmic tinkling beneath the trees and I breathed in the lush green loveliness. At the same time I was in state of disbelief – had I really only just discovered this little slice of peace and quiet so close to home?
The path emerged on to Dollis Road, just near the viaduct.
The viaduct was completed in 1867 as part of the old Edgware, Highgate and London Railway and today carries Northern Line underground trains between Finchley Central and Mill Hill East.
Crossing beneath the arches, I followed the footpath around and turned left heading back up towards the main road again. After a little over 10 minutes, I found myself standing on Dollis Avenue.
The avenue curves around to the right and meets back up with Regents Park Road – I had previously ventured about 150 meters down the avenue from the main drag to the Royal Mail collection office and had never noticed much beyond the grey commercial buildings. So I was open-mouthed with surprise to find such salubrious accommodation no further than a 5 minute walk away.
Soon I was back amidst the hustle and bustle of Finchley Central but not before I copped myself an eye and nose-full of this delicious lavender…
All up I spent just over an hour wandering about 2 miles and it was great way to get out of the house and enjoy the discovery of something new. The funny part is that when Lil Chicky was visiting in January we geocached around the viaduct so it meant I could join up some geographic dots – and found a much prettier route to the viaduct as well.
The Greenwalk is actually 10 miles long and connects Barnet Gate Wood (the Battle of Barnet in 1471 was one of the final battles in the War of the Roses) with the northern extension of Hampstead Heath. I’m not so inspired that you’ll find me covering the entire 10 miles – that’s 16km – in one go but it seems I’ve found a good halfway point and the only decision required is really whether to turn left to the Heath or right towards history.
Who knew that Lovers Walk would yield all of that?