Another warm and relatively sunny day, and given that we have them in scarcity here in London, they should be used wisely! In my case it means that I need to tick another outdoors place off my bucket list of new places to explore. This time it is going to be Hampstead Heath, which I have been wanting to see for a long time.
Hampstead Heath is basically a very large park in north-west London, and to get there I first take the tube to Hampstead, and then change to Overground for two more stops to Hampstead Heath.
The entrance to the park is right across the road from the station, and next to the entrance I see someone selling all sorts of books – from cooking to Kafka – and also DVD’s, which are not in the picture.
It’s interesting how every park has its own atmosphere, which you feel immediately once you enter it. In my yesterday’s post about Victoria Park, although I never explicitly said that I didn’t find it too amazing, you might have still sensed that from the way I described it. Here, I barely take a few steps inside the park and already figure out that I really like it!
All the streets surrounding the Hampstead Heath park seem to be going either up or down, which is quite logical, as the area is hilly.
In fact, one of the main attractions of Hampstead Heath is the 98-metre high Parliament Hill with great views over London, and that is my main destination today. After walking a little while, I come across this picturesque pond, very ‘articulately’ called Hampstead No. 2 Pond, implying that there is at least another one in the park, which should be called No. 1 (there are actually quite a few, but the others, suprisingly, are not No. 3, 4, 5 etc. – they mostly have proper names).
Apparently, as the map shows, to get to Parliament Hill I need to cross the pond via a pathway separating its two parts.
That tree growing right in the water would have looked really fascinating if only it wasn’t as dead as a doornail.
It turns out that used a wrong path to cross the pond, as I suddenly find myself on the street.
Never mind, I go back and take the other pathway, literally a few metres away from the first one. I also figure out that those are two different ponds and not two parts of the same one. This one is called Mixed Bathing Pond, and it does look like a proper beach. I mentioned once my concerns about bathing in still water, but obviously not everyone is as picky – I guess, you can’t be, if you don’t leave on the seaside.
The name Mixed Bathing sounds intriguing, and after a bit of research I learn that there are also two separate ponds for men and women respectively in the park. That sounds even more intriguing, I should have gone to check them out! I really wonder, why on earth, in the 21st century single-sex bathing areas would even exist in a Western country!
Not only people are bathing – on the other side, in that No. 2 pond, dogs, who must feel very hot with their ‘fur coats’ on, are also in desperate need of refreshing themselves.
But I keep walking on and on, and finally get to Parliament Hill – I mean, that must definitely be it!
It reminds me very much of Primrose Hill, which in fact is not too far away: there’s also a view of the city, there are also people chilling out on the grass.
That, I guess, is just the park stretching all the way to the horizon.
On the other side, there is the amazing view over Central London: I can see the Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the high-rises of the City.
That down there is Parliament Hill Fields Athletics Track, where the Hampstead Rugby Club is based.
Not far from it, I can see an outdoors swimming pool – it turns out that it’s the Parliament Hill Lido. Now that’s indeed a much better option than the pond, in my personal view!
I walk a bit further, turn left and once again suddenly find myself in the street, which is also called Parliament Hill. It looks like it’s the general tendency of this park to just end abruptly, kicking you on in the street.
But it’s a nice walk down the hill. That, for example, is a really pretty side street, Tanza Road. Unfortunately, there are too many cars parked alongside the roads and streets, which really spoil the view. It’s probably because it’s Sunday, as on weekdays all those cars would have probably taken their owners to work.
Anyway, repeating myself, it’s a nice walk, I really like the streets and the houses. In general, having seen quite a lot of London by now, I can comfortably say that I much prefer West London to East London.
As always, I cannot simply walk past a porch with beautiful flowers without taking a picture.
As for these flowers, they suspiciously look artificial to me. To be able to say that with certainty, I’d need to cross the road and take a closer look, but, honestly, I can’t be bothered.
Finally, I am back at the station. The schedule of Overground trains much more resembles that of regular National Rail trains that that of the Underground trains, as they run every 10-20 minutes and I have to spend ages waiting on the platform…