Wherever you live, you don't need to go far to stumble across all kinds of wonders, says Michele Hanson -
The only good thing about having vile-
Starting at the entrance to the heath at the top of Millfield Lane, you walk down a path, the boating lake on your left, busy with mallard, tufted, pochard and the odd mandarin ducks; coots, dabchicks, moorhens, Canada and greylag geese, swans, great crested grebes and cormorants.
All lovely, but things can get tense here: will the grebes find a nest? Will the coots or moorhens grab the best sites? And will the cygnets survive? Every day another gripping development.
On your right, the stock pond -
At the far edge of the pond, kingfishers often nest and rear chicks. Sometimes a heron stands elegantly, on a log or raft.
Walk past this pond and behind the railing is a tangle of blackberries, may, elder, hawthorn, maple; between them, brightly coloured flashes of bluebells, pink campions, fat yellow kingcups, brilliant lime green euphorbia; living up in the oak trees is a colony of brilliant green, ring-
Look on the South Meadow and see scores of different grasses, turning rusty and purply red through the summer, soon to be illuminated by a swath of white marguerites and yellow flags in the boggy bit in the middle.
In the ladies' pond you may see swimming ladies, even in mid-
Turn right at the end of the ladies' pond along a shady path, and on your left is the stock pond: empty today. Time to notice the heady spring perfumes of cowparsley, may, elderflower, which come at you from all sides until you're almost drunk on it. I find myself walking along, almost crying soppily, about the gobsmacking beauty of nature -
I walk ahead, up to the peak of this field, then diagonally across it, and there, in the bottom left-
A twiddly bit next: leave the field down a steep little pathway, the grey stone Goodison Fountain on your right, go left across a main path, come to a slatted bit of path, left up that, right fork across another field, then bear right, past the Highgate gate into the Kenwood Estate.
Do not enter. It will be chok-
Here you can usually hear green woodpeckers and see blue tits, tree-
The meadow opens out into a green slope; I go down that, then up the other side past a fallen tree, perfect for climbing, and a bank of bluebells.
This side of the stream is usually the most peaceful place to be, before you hit the main path, bordering the beginning of Parliament Hill Fields, where the hordes of walkers, visitors, cyclists and joggers start again, and I clamp my dogs on the lead and go left, back to the ponds and home again.
This walk is best and most deserted early on a weekday morning. So perhaps you could go one at a time, so as not to spoil things. Or not go at all, and just leave it to me.