Wifey and her friend, Ms M, had wanted to do a forest walk when they were in London, and they had initially planned on visiting a distant forest. But after sharing their plans with their boss, he suggested Hampstead Heath instead, which is more do-able and is nearer to London.
Hampstead Heath (locally known as “the Heath”) is a large, ancient London park, covering 320 hectares. This grassy public space sits astride a sandy ridge, one of the highest points in London, running from Hampstead to Highgate. The Heath is rambling and hilly, embracing ponds, recent and ancient woodlands, a lido, playgrounds, and a training track, and it adjoins the stately home of Kenwood House and its grounds. The south-east part of the Heath is Parliament Hill, from which the view over London is protected by law.
We couldn’t fit Hampstead Heath into our schedules while Ms M was still with us in London, and also because the weather then was rainy and not so conducive for hiking. Looking at how beautiful today was, we decided to give Hampstead Heath a try!
Getting to Hampstead Heath was rather easy; it was an easy 40-min bus ride from Central London. After alighting at the bus-stop we took a slow stroll and arrived at the entrance of the park. What greeted us were tall rows of trees that lined the ‘leafy’ track and our moods were instantly transformed into one of serenity and tranquility. As we strolled along the track, all we could hear were breezy winds and falling leaves…
There were quite a fair bit of people, mostly bringing little children along, and boy, they were very prepared for the trip, with their Wellington boots and extra clothes. We watched the kids have fun scaring ducks and swans in the pond, and had a lovely walk to the swimming pond. The pond looked quite dirty though, so we weren’t too sure if people really swim in it during summer.
We continued to walk up the hill while admiring and enjoying the tranquility of the park. When we reached the peak, we were greeted with a panoramic view of the London skyline. Even though the day was a bit cloudy, we could see the buildings in the silhouette. The peak was quite a flat plain of green green grass, and there were quite a number of people here indulging in several activities; there was a little boy playing football with his grandma, a group of students having a picnic, several runners, and a man making a movie. 🙂
We stayed at the peak for a while admiring the awesome scenery and made our way down after a well-rested break. At the foot of the hill is a small eatery and toilets. We made a brief toilet stop here before continuing to walk to the train station, trying to soak in the atmosphere. That was a smart move because as we walked around the area, there was a weekend market nearby where wifey got to taste very nice olives! 🙂