Lying four miles from the centre
of London, Hampstead Heath is one of the capital's most popular
green space. The rolling, semi-landscaped Heath divides
the hilltop villages of Hampstead and Highgate and was formed
from the grounds of several, separate, properties.
Hampstead Heath has a variety
of landscapes: heathland, meadows, hills, ponds and lakes.
In the 791 acres you can stroll, take a guided walk, jog,
sunbathe, picnic, fish, play football, tennis or bowls and
swim in one of the ponds or Parliament Hill Lido.
Other facilities include a horse-riding
circuit, adventure playground, play equipment and activities
for under-fives. There are also deer and animal enclosures
with a variety of animals and birds, including flamingoes.
In the summer there are shows
for children with clowns, puppets and magicians. Funfairs
are held at the upper and lower ends of the Heath on the Easter,
May and August bank holidays.
Parliament Hill, to the south
of Hampstead Heath, has magnificent views over central London.
An ancient barrow here is rumoured to be the burial ground
of queen Boudicca, leader of the rebel Iceni tribe, who died
in battle against the Romans in AD 61.
One explanation for Parliament
Hill's unusual name is that Guy Fawkes's fellow plotters may
have gathered here on 5 November 1605 to hopefully watch the
Houses of Parliament blow up. A more probable explanation
is the hill being a gun emplacement for the Parliamentarian
troops during the Civil War, 40 years later. Today Parliament
Hill is a popular spot for flying kites and for sailing model
boats. Band concerts are held here on Sunday afternoons
in the summer.
The Hill is a 'secret garden'
, once the grounds of a private house. Now part of Hampstead
Heath, this garden was created by Lord Leverhulme, the Edwardian
soap manufacturer and a patron of the arts. The garden
has a collection of plants and rare trees set in landscaped
grounds. Other features include a pergola walkway and
formal pond. On a clear day there are wonderful views
from here. Access to this area is through North End
Way, London NW3, the nearest Underground station is Golders
Golders Hill Park near West Heath,
has a walled garden and pond plus small enclosures for deer,
goats and birds. Children's activities are organised
here and in the summer there is live music, including band
concerts. Access is through North End Road, London NW11, Underground
station: Golders Green.
On the northern edge of
Hampstead Heath is Kenwood
House, a fine neo-classical mansion, now maintained
by English Heritage. The house contains the Iveagh Bequest,
the finest private collection of paintings ever given to the
nation. In the summer Kenwood House hosts very popular
lakeside concerts. Access best through Hampstead Lane,
London NW3, Underground station: Highgate