Lakes and woodland are the stuff of dacha-dwellers' dreams - but as summer draws ever closer it's possible to find all this within Moscow's city limits. Around the hilly Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo forest, in the north-west, you can find an 18th century estate, celebrated fresh-water springs and a low-rise urban village which brings rustic charm to the edge of Lenigadsky Prospekt.
Head north from Shchukinskaya metro across the tramlines and follow a path beside a green fence that leads you under the railway.
Cross the road and head diagonally right, threading your way between apartment block number 10 on your right and the pink hospital building at the top of a bank on your left.
Follow the track until you reach the busy Volokolamskoye Shosse; you can see the red brick buildings of the Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo-Glebovo estate on the far side.
Go under the perekhod and take the little path towards the pointed tower on the corner of the Ivanovskoe Shosse.
This 18th century landmark, with its turret and massive, wooden door, will be familiar to anyone who has been to the Anglo-American school or Pokrovsky Hills.
Turn right alongside the turreted brick wall, parallel to the main road, to peer in through the main gate of the estate and visit the yellow Intercession church.
The aristocratic Streshnev clan commissioned the church in 1750 to serve their country estate in what was then the village of Pokrovskoye.
The church is now a thriving place of worship. The inside is brightly painted and the outside is decorated with mosaics.
Go on along the wall beyond the church and, when it ends, turn left and follow the fence of the estate all the way round into the park.
Pass more buildings, including a 19th century orangery and turn right across a small sports field to reach a junction of several tracks and paths.
Take the left hand tarmac track, marked by streetlights and benches, leading away from the orangery and into the forest.
Follow this broad and winding lane until you reach another big junction at the head of a ravine.
Cross over and go straight ahead, past a small playground and down some steps to reach the natural springs for which these woods are famous.
Christened the "swan princess", this source of clean drinking water produces six litres every second at a constant temperature in summer and winter.
There are regular queues to fill bottles and containers here, at the outlet marked by a row of icons and vases of flowers, and the steps are fitted with rails to help water-carriers pull away their trolleys.
Beyond the spring, you might like to go on a little way to the bridge over the little Khimki River, leading to the Pokrovsky Hills compound. Afterwards, go back to the junction at the top of the steps above the spring and turn left along the tarmac track.
When the track emerges from the forest onto a road, take a sharp right and head back into the trees.
Take the next major turning to your left, near an information board. This track, which can get quite muddy, leads out of the trees near a chain of ornamental lakes.
Walk straight on between two of the largest ponds. The landscaped groves on the far side include a café and playground.
You can follow the track under a railway bridge and straight on along little roads and paths for about ten minutes to reach Voikovskaya metro station. There is a pleasant café just before the railway bridge.
For a longer route, turn right before the railway bridge and follow the edge of the lake again, keeping the water on your right and heading left towards the railway. Eventually, you will arrive at a level crossing at the far side of Pokrovskoye Streshnevo railway station, close to where you first entered the forest.
Cross the railway and take the steps left up to a lane, past an old station building.
Follow the lane and cross underneath the main road again, turning left through the trees on the far side. When you reach a junction, cross diagonally right and continue parallel to the tramlines through a little urban park.
Cross the railway again using the tram bridge and follow the right hand side of Volokolamskoye Shosse for 15 minutes.
The pavement is quite far from the traffic, but you might still prefer to skip this section by riding any bus two stops. Number 028, a tram replacement service, is free of charge.
Turn right along Ulitsa Vrubelya, one of many roads named after artists in the "artists village", and follow the road round. Glance left at the first turning to see the silver falcons (representing the village: "sokol" means falcon in Russian) near the administrative HQ.
The quickest way through the village is left along broad, maple and linden-lined Polenova, but you might prefer to wander around a little more.
Any road will bring you to the centre of the village with its little white bridges and carved wooden playground. Ulitsa Surikova leads out again towards Ulitsa Alabyana.
The road on the far side leads past All Saints' Church to the Leningradsky Prospect, bringing you crashing back to urban reality. You currently need to go under nightmarish Leningradsky to reach Sokol metro. Landmark of the week
This little settlement of wood and stone houses is a Utopian experiment from the 1920s.
A group of architects collaborated in designing a model community, where avenues were planted to complement the view.
Sadly, this idyllic area has been scarred by ill-advised development.
The city authorities are currently threatening to tear down the oversized new buildings in a Rechnik-repeat