“The Heath” sprawls across 320 hectares (791 acres) of Camden and Barnet.  Encompassing ancient woodlands, wildflower meadows, towering trees, running streams, and over 30 lakes and ponds.  Full of over 300 species of fungi, the best place in London to see various species of kingfishers, red warblers, British woodpeckers, dragonflies, and bats!  There are at  least 55  artifacts, monuments and archaeological sites including The Saxon ditch (AD986),

Hampstead Heath is also a consistent winner of  a Green Flag Award which sets the “the national standard for parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom.”  Its miles of walking paths, cycling lanes, forest tracks and rambling meadows Hampstead Heath exudes pastoral bliss. An inspiration to many a great artist: John Constable (romantic painter),  John Keats (poet), CS Lewis (novelist, academic, theologian…), John Atkinson Grimshaw (painter), Percy Bysshe Shelley (romantic poet), Lord Byron (poet), Leigh Hunt (writer),

The Beech Grove – photo © Laura Nolte

On the personal side, we spent one stunning spring Sunday lost in the Heath. In a city park experience like no other, I’ve ever had.   We picked up a picnic lunch in Highgate and wandered into the green.  We soon lost ourselves among the trees around t 1pm on a warm may Sunday – a time when any park in our hometown of New York City is packed to the hilt with people.  We soon found a secluded spot in a forested glen and we lunched.  We DID NOT SEE ANOTHER PERSON for over 30 minutes!!! Our solitude was gently eased when a lovely woman wandered through- searching for elderflower, for her elderflower wine …

Hampstead Heath is a piece of the old world left untouched, where fairies play and people can once again be a part of nature.  So swim in its ponds and walk in every direction to find beauty in its overabundant flora and flora; delight in its wonder and realize what a park can truly be.

photo © Laura Nolte
photo © Laura Nolte

“The Highgate Ponds” total eight original water reservoirs from the 17th and 18th centuries. Here are the men and ladies bathing ponds, the model boating pond, and a fishing lake.

Early Morning, Highgate Men’s Bathing Pond photo© Tony Hall
Early Morning, Highgate Men’s Bathing Pond photo© Tony Hall

Here we find the “Hampstead Ponds”, which began life as a string of reservoirs of the Hampstead Water Co.; established to supply London in 1692 by damming Hampstead brook. Here you can find the mixed gender swim pond (note: for all the swimming ponds you can buy a day, season, or annual ticket).

Path between Cohen’s Fields and Stock Pond photo © Tony Hall

On the southern slopes of Parliament Hill sit various sporting facilities including an athletics track, tennis courts, an open air swimming pool, running track, and various fitness areas.  The hill is 321 feet (98 m) high home to kite flyers and great views of the London skyline.  Keep a lookout for ‘The Stone of Free Speech‘ which dates from the late 17th century


Closed by night, Golders Hill Park contains a small zoo, tennis courts, lovely floral displays, a duck pond, water garden, and a separated area for deer.

The pergola at Hill House Garden – photo © Carlos Baez)

The northern border of the Heath abuts Kenwood House (Iveagh Bequest); a 17th century stately home.  Residing here still is the original art collection of Lord Iveagh; including a Rembrandt self-portrait, Van Dyck , Vermeer, William Turner…. Hopefully you are at a time to enjoy a  Lakeside Concert on the property’s grounds.

Kenwood House – photo © Sophie Atkinson
Wood Pond at Kenwood– photo © Sophie Atkinson
Wood Pond at Kenwood – photo © Tony Hall
photo ©  Barbara Rich
photo ©  Barbara Rich

Hampstead Heath

(44)  0208 – 45 8 9102 – (44)  0207  – 332 3322
Tube:  Kentish Town,  Hampstead, Golders Green

One Comment on “Hampstead Heath – London

  1. Wonderful photos of the Heath!!! Looks so green compared to my home in Dallas, Texas. Looking forward to walking thru the Heath again next year while my wife does research for the second novel in her trilogy. The setting for her book is Hampstead.

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