It is almost 4 years since David Ely discovered, researched and then wrote up this account of a delightful 2 1/2 miles ‘There and Back’ walk. The starting point is easily reached by car from High Barnet in about 15 minutes. Some significant changes have occurred in the landscape since then and so this update is offered here.
Happily, it is still straightforward to park about 100 yards down Dancers Lane on the right, as described in the original account. There is now a small sign by the road indicating ‘Laurel House’ so just walk along the tarmac road towards the house. ‘Public Footpath 72’ is signposted and then easily negotiated down to Trotters Bottom.
As you face the Northern Gatehouse of Dyrham Park (Fig.3.1) the public footpath 62 is still chocked with nettles and brambles. The large gate is not always ajar now as it seems to have an electronic locking device linked to it. If necessary, a few light steps to the right of the gate will see you safely onto the broad track straight ahead.
As you walk round the edge of the golf course along a fairly well-defined path, the first wooden footbridge that you come to now has a steady stream of water flowing beneath it. Just stay on this footpath on the edge of the golf course, maybe noting a closed-off footpath in the trees on the left.
Before long, you will pass a mixed plantation of young trees on the right before reaching a sand and gravel path with the 16th Tee straight ahead. Several clusters of Red Campion provided a welcome addition to the late Spring colours in the grassland on the left.
The footpath is to the left, a single Scots Pine tree with upper greyish-orange bark straight ahead and a yellow waymark ‘62’ on post on right.
The occasional Rhododendron ‘ponticum’ was seen showing its light purple clusters of trumpet shaped flowers in the woodland.
About 20 yards after crossing an iron bridge over Mimmshall Brook there is a fork in the path. Both lead to the area of woodland that so enchanted David but the right hand path is the shorter of the two. There are a remarkable number of mature Spruce trees in this stretch of woodland and a few more enormous English oaks.
Some, hopefully discrete, tree-hugging gave the girth of one of these Quercus robur as about 14-15 feet and the Woodland Trusts’ Girth/Age conversion chart suggested an age of about 230 years.
Happily the grounds that were patrolled by the ‘friendly and playful(?)’ guard dogs that David seemed to take in his stride, now have an opaque as well as a strong fence separating the hounds from the walker. No barking occurred during this recent peaceful stroll.
Galley Lane remained busy with the occasional speeding motorist coming round the sharp bend to the right.
A single buzzard with its plaintive mewing call was circling above when Trotters Bottom was reached on the return journey. David’s walk makes a straightforward and enjoyable outing so let’s hope that more local folk will try it out for themselves this year.