London: the step-by-step guide

London: the step-by-step guide Michael Leapman walks around Kenwood House Distance: Three-and-a-half miles Time: Under two hours, plus house visit Tube: Hampstead (Northern Line) Parking: Not advised
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The Independent Culture
If you want a quiet walk on Hampstead Heath, this weekend is your last chance before the Easter funfair takes over. Half of this route is through the Heath's woods and open spaces, the other half passes Hampstead's finest houses.

From the station, turn right up the hill and take the first turning on the right. This is Back Lane, but immediately turn left off it into Streatley Place, an intriguing passage that takes you down steps to pass New End Primary School. As the road curves keep on the cobbles to the triangular New End Square and on to Burgh House on your left.

This fine Queen Anne House, set back from the road in a small garden, contains a small local museum and a room devoted to one of Hampstead's most famous residents, the painter John Constable. It is open Wed-Sun, 12-5pm.

Turn left on leaving the house and left again on Well Walk, named after the well that made Hampstead into a fashionable 18th-century spa. The Wells Tavern, ahead on the right, was then notorious for adulterous liaisons. Beyond it on the left, a fountain marks the site of the well where the medicinal waters were drawn.

At the end of Well Walk cross East Heath Road on to a gravel path through an avenue of trees. Stay on the path, passing a sports ground on the right. Just beyond, level with a bench on the right, turn left on a wide earth path edged with silver birches.

Passing three new wooden benches on the right, turn right at a tall oak in the centre of the path and enter Kenwood through a black iron gate. Take the left-hand path and soon Robert Adams's Kenwood House (1764) becomes visible through trees on your left. Keep left at a triangular junction to pass an area of overgrown fallen trees and new plantings, with a plaque commemorating the storm of October 1987, which did the damage.

Cross a bridge over the end of the lake and take the gravel path that goes to the left of the house, passing a Henry Moore sculpture (Reclining Figure no 5, 1963-4).

When you reach the back of the sculpture keep on the path if you want to see the house and its Old Master paintings (daily, 10am-6pm). Otherwise, go through a wooden gate on the left and continue to another sculpture, Flamme by Eugene Dodeigne (1983).

Here, turn left on a grassy uphill path to join a gravel path which immediately joins another, where you bear left to pass a line of benches and eventually leave the Kenwood grounds through another iron gate. Take the right fork and follow the path round, passing to the right of a gorse bush with bright yellow flowers.

Almost ahead of you is an obvious path into the woods.

Reaching a clearing with four large trees, turn left downhill, parallel with black railings on your right. Reaching a broader path, turn right to cross a stone bridge with brick arches.

Fork left on an earth path through trees which leads to another bridge. Do not cross it but keep right, with the lake and more iron railings on your left. Where these veer left, turn right on a narrow path uphill. At a junction marked by a bench, turn left on to a wide gravel path.

Beyond the toilets fork left on a narrower path, passing a round brick hut, then go downhill and keep to the right of a small fairground with caravans, to reach a terrace of Victorian houses. This is the Vale of Health, a former malarial swamp renamed by a sharp property developer in the early 19th century.

Turn left, passing Vale House on your right. On the next corner, 1 Byron Villas has a plaque recording that D H Lawrence lived there. Keep ahead and, past the pillar box, fork right on a concrete path that climbs steeply to East Heath Road.

Turn right at the traffic lights and cross Heath Street to the pedestrianised approach to the astronomical observatory on Windmill Hill. Bear right, keep left at the next junction, then turn sharp left into Admirals Walk and sharp right into Hampstead Grove, past the wall of the stately 17th- century Fenton House (open weekends 11am-5.30pm, Mon-Wed 2-5.30pm). Turn right to skirt the house, then cross to Mount Vernon, a narrow raised road ahead.

As the road curves right, turn left down Holly Walk, passing St Mary's Catholic Church and the old cemetery to reach St John's Church, where there is a bust of Keats inside and Constable's grave in the churchyard. Turn left into Church Row, an elegant Georgian street. At its end, turn left into Heath Street for the tube.

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