Hampstead is home to London’s largest ancient parkland, Hampstead Heath, which covers 320 hectares - and all just 6km away from Trafalgar Square! With its rambling hills, its ancient woodlands and its rich wildlife, the Heath feels like an oasis of tranquility and natural beauty in the midst of this vibrant city. It is one of London’s most popular parks for walking, running, kite-flying, bird-watching, picnicking, or simply for taking in the astonishing views of the London skyline from Parliament Hill.
The Heath has three open-air swimming ponds: one for ladies, one for men, and one for mixed bathing. The ladies’ and gents’ ponds are open all year round, but to use the mixed pond during the winter requires membership of the Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club. Be prepared - the scenery is stunning, but even in the Summer months you will find the water crisp and bracing!
Keen swimmers should also try the Parliament Hill Lido - a 60 by 28 metre unheated outdoor swimming pool built in 1938 and renovated in 2005. There is a large paddling pool for the under fives, a state of the art adventure playground, and a cafe for getting warm after a cool dip.
On the edge of the Heath you can find the beautiful Kenwood House, which dates from the early 17th Century and recently reopened following major renovations. Restored to its former glory, Kenwood House boasts exceptional architecture, peaceful landscaped gardens, breathtaking interiors and a fascinating art collection. Kenwood truly offers something for everyone: there are craft workshops and trails for the kids, a lovely cafe, a range of cultural events and acres of grounds to explore.
Adjoining the Heath to the West is Golder’s Hill Park - a more formal park complete with a flower garden, water garden, small zoo, butterfly house, tennis courts and putting green.
Keep an eye on the Hampstead Village Website to find about upcoming events on the heath; it often hosts art festivals, open-air concerts, funfairs and much more.
The heath is best explored on foot. Simply set off and discover the shady paths, wide open spaces, magical woodlands and extraordinary views. In the summer, pick up a picnic from the array of delis and food-shops in the village; in winter, wrap up warm and retire to one of Hampstead’s many cozy pubs for a restorative meal after a long walk. Cyclists are welcome on the heath’s designated cycle routes. To learn more about the recreational activities available on Hampstead Heath or to download a map of the parkland, visit the City of London website.