Hampstead Heath Routes

Most Fridays, we run up Fitzjohn’s Avenue to Hampstead Heath.  There are several routes from which to choose which vary by length.  You can be running any pace for any of the routes.  For most of these routes, it’s helpful to go the first few times with someone who knows the route.  It’s hard to describe where to turn when there are no street signs in the Heath.  But even if you take a wrong turn, you can’t get too lost.  And maybe you’ll discover a new route for us all to try!

Want to explore the Heath further? Here’s a link to the full Heath map..

For all Heath routes, start from Barclays running down Circus past the SJW High Street until it dead ends and turn left on Townshend Rd.  Turn right on Acacia and then left on Avenue.  Cross diagonally over Adelaide Rd to run past the Swiss Cottage tube and keep going on to Fitzjohn’s Avenue.  Run up the hill to the Hampstead Heath Tube.

 

The Betsy Route (5 miles)
The Betsy Route, originally created by Betsy and Syma, is approximately 5 miles in length.  After running up to Hampstead Tube, you turn right onto Hampstead High Street and then make a left on to Flask Walk.  This becomes Well Walk and leads  into the Heath.  Enter the Heath and run the tree lined trail (called Lime Avenue) until it bisects a major thoroughfare trail where you will take a right. [You’ll often see other WRW runners on the major trail who are running one of the longer Heath runs.]  Follow this trail as it meanders slightly right (away from Parliament Hill), crossing the ponds and skirting along the edge of the Heath until it ends at the bottom of the Heath on S End Road.  Exit the Heath at S End Road and turn right at Pond St going past the Royal Free Hospital and cutting to the left just past the Royal Free’s entrance driveway to take a short cut to Haverstock Hill.  Go left on Haverstock Hill, crossing at the pedestrian stoplight to the other side, then turn right on  to Belsize Avenue.  At Lancaster Grove, stay left on Belsize Avenue as it changes to Buckland Crescent.  Take this to Fitzjohn’s where you turn left to run towards Swiss Cottage Library, then scoot over to St Johns Wood Park Road and back to Starbucks.

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The 6 Mile Route
The six mile Heath route takes you up to the top of Parliament Hill and past the athletic fields and Royal Free Hospital.

After reaching the Hampstead Tube, continue to run up Heath St (to the left of the Tube) all the way uphill to the stoplight at E Heath Rd.  Cross at the light and continue past Whitstone Pond (on your left) and past the roundabout  to enter the Heath at the first trail entrance on your right.    Run down this major thoroughfare trail, bearing right approx 200 meters after the entrance to continue as the trail meanders past Lime Avenue and other smaller trails, fields and forested areas.  As the major trail starts to dip and veer right, take the sharp left to run up Parliament Hill.  You may want to stop and enjoy the spectacular vista (and catch your breath!).  Continue down the other side of the hill, bear right and then keep straight as the path curves to the left and then turn right at the café to run down past the athletic track and pool. Exit the Heath left past the swimming pool, crossing over the bridge onto Constantine Road.  Take a right, running past South End Rd/Fleet Rd, past the Royal Free Hospital and cutting to the left just past the Royal Free’s entrance driveway to take a short cut to Haverstock Hill. Go left on Haverstock Hill, crossing at the pedestrian stoplight to the other side, then turn right on  to Belsize Avenue.  At Lancaster Grove, stay left on Belsize Avenue as it changes to Buckland Crescent.  Take this to Fitzjohn’s where you turn left to run towards Swiss Cottage Library, then scoot over to St Johns Wood Park Road and back to Starbucks.

The Reverse Route (6 miles)
Start from Barclays running down Circus past the SJW High Street until it dead ends and turn left on Townshend Rd. Turn right on Acacia and then left on Avenue. Here’s the new part! Cross Avenue Road at the Elsworthy cross walk and continue on Elsworthy. Veer left at the fork onto Harley Road and follow Harley to Adelaide. Cross Adelaide and continue past the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre on Winchester Road. To avoid Fitzjohn’s, turn right on Adamson Rd, then left on Crossfield Rd, then left on Lancaster Grove, then right on Buckland Crescent which becomes Belsize Park,then Belsize Ave. At the end, turn left up Haverstock Hill. Run past the Royal Free Hospital on the garden path or turn right on Pond Street, which becomes Constantine Rd, then Severnake Rd. Enter the Heath at the entrance across from Roderick Road. Follow the path past the Parliament Hill Track. Take a sharp left after the gazebo and run up Parliament Hill. Enjoy the view at the top! Run down the other side of the Hill. At the fork in the woods, take a sharp right and follow the path up until you exit the Heath at Spaniards Rd. Turn left and follow Heath Street, which becomes Fitzjohn’s Avenue back down the hill. At the Swiss Cottage intersection, cross and follow St. John’s Wood Park and Ordnance Hill back to SJW.

The Highgate Route (7.5 miles)
Head up Fitzjohn’s, as usual, and continue past the Hampstead Tube and Whitestone Pond to stay on Spaniards Road.  Do not enter the Heath at the normal entry point, but stay on Spaniards Road as it wraps around the outside of the Heath, past Kenwood House and past The Bishops Road where Spaniards Road turns into Hampstead Lane.

Continue on Hampstead Lane as it edges around the outside of the Heath in a gentle rise until you reach The Grove, where you turn right.  [The Grove is a pretty, tree lined street just before the Highgate roundabout].  Run to the first right lane, which is Fitzroy Park and has a traffic barrier across the road.  Pass around the traffic barrier—this is fine! And continue down the road, past lovely homes and a famous allotment on the right side.  This road curves downhill to the left and takes you to the entrance of the Heath near a set of bathrooms [and just before Merton Lane to the left].

Enter the Heath, run past the loos and take the path to the left as it runs along a the model boating pond, the men’s bathing pond and a third pond.  When the sidewalk dead ends, take a right to run along the exercise fields, track and swimming pool.  Exit the Heath past the swimming pool, crossing over the bridge onto Constantine Road.  Take a right, running past South End Rd/Fleet Rd, past the Royal Free Hospital and cutting to the left just past the Royal Free’s entrance driveway to take a short cut to Haverstock Hill. Go left on Haverstock Hill, crossing at the pedestrian stoplight to the other side, then turn right on  to Belsize Avenue.  At Lancaster Grove, stay left on Belsize Avenue as it changes to Buckland Crescent.  Take this to Fitzjohn’s where you turn left to run towards Swiss Cottage Library, then scoot over to St Johns Wood Park Road and back to Starbucks.

The 8 Mile Route
The eight mile Heath route runs up Parliament Hill and past Kenwood House before exiting the Heath where it entered.

After reaching the Hampstead Tube, continue to run up Heath St (to the left of the Tube) all the way uphill to the stoplight at E Heath Rd.  Cross at the light and continue past Whitstone Pond (on your left) and past the roundabout  to enter the Heath at the first trail entrance on your right.    Run down this major thoroughfare trail, bearing right approx 200 meters after the entrance to continue as the trail meanders past Lime Avenue and other smaller trails, fields and forested areas.  As the major trail starts to dip and veer right, take the sharp left to run up Parliament Hill.  You may want to stop and enjoy the spectacular vista (and catch your breath!).  Continue down the other side of the hill, bearing to the left to circle back around the bottom of Parliament Hill and running by the model boating and fishing ponds before turning right at the T-junction to run by the loos.  [Note:  this area of the Heath has been under construction so you may need to run around the other side of the model boating and fishing ponds.]  Just beyond the loos, bear left to run along the eastern edge of the Heath.  Keep going until you reach the iron fencing that marks the entrance to the Kenwood House grounds.  Run past Kenwood House, exiting its grounds at the footgate on the right before the path turns to the left.  Continue on this gravelly path through a far gate, turning left as you continue towards a LARGE tree.  Run past the LARGE tree, taking an immediate turn on the first path thereafter which leads to a  steep down hill as you cross a small bridge.  Turn right at the main trail intersect (this is the same trail you ran down at the beginning of the Heath, in the opposite direction) and run back up to where you entered the Heath.  Turn left on Spaniards Rd and retrace your steps all the way back to SJW and Starbucks.

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The West Heath Route (8 miles) – UNDER DEVELOPMENT
This route takes you out to the western Heath and through the Pergola and Hill Gardens, often considered one of London’s great secrets.  It’s a bit tricky so only do this run if either you know it or can stay with the runners who do know it!

Just before you get to the Hampstead Tube, cross Fitzjohn’s and turn left on Church Row.  Turn right on Frognal and then a quick left on Redington Rd.  Follow Redington around until it dead ends at W Heath Rd where you turn left and cross the street. Pretty quickly you will see an entrance to the Heath on your right.  Enter the Heath and turn left at the first path just past the pond.

And then…?

Cross over Spaniard’s Rd into the eastern Heath, making your way home via Well Walk and Flask Walk to Fitzjohn’s and then down the hill to SJW and Starbucks.

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