Fitness, Flab and Footpaths: We venture to assert that Barnet is unique among London boroughs in the amount of open space which still exists in an area so close to the capital. Admittedly, an enormous amount of land has been given over to the necessary provision of homes for a growing population. But thanks to the far-sighted actions of the then Hendon Urban District Council in the twenties and thirties in buying up the estates of former great landowners (Moat Mount Open Space, Scratchwood, Arrandene Open Space to name a few) and the zoning of Totteridge Valley and its edges as Green Belt land, we still have a substantial amount of “countryside” on our doorstep.
Recognizing this priceless asset for the residents of Mill Hill, the Society began its now familiar Spring and Autumn footpath walks, and produced in 1974 a footpath map to mark our 25th Anniversary. (This map has been regularly updated and can be obtained from our office or from the library). On many occasions on these walks local people have said to us “I never knew this lovely countryside was so close to us !”. And it is true. If you walk across Totteridge Valley and through Darlands nature reserve or through Barnet Gate Wood on a fine summer’s day you would be hard-pressed to believe that you are only 10 miles from central London.
Following our initiative in 1974, the Council began way-marking many of the walks and produced “Countryside Trails” to help people to take circular walks. The way-marking signs still exist but regular production of the maps has fallen victim to budgetary cuts. But, more important, the footpaths still exist. We have had many cases over the years when landowners have tried to block paths or deter walkers from using footpaths which have crossed their land for hundreds of years. We have not allowed this to happen in the past, nor must we in the future. These footpaths are established rights of way and must be protected in the best way possible – regular usage.
So please join us on our walks, get to know the paths and benefit from the medically proven best way to good health – a regular brisk walk. Better still buy one of our footpaths maps – not just a map a potted history of the area and its buildings.
MHPS members walking the footpaths of Mill Hill and district