Hampstead Heath

In the north of the borough is Hampstead Heath, one of London's major open spaces, consisting of almost 800 acres of mixed grassland and woodland. It is rather more parkland than heath but it does have plenty of semi-wild areas, sections of extensive tree cover, and a number of small lakes reserved for boating and swimming. In the north of the heath is Kenwood House, a minor stately home dating from the seventeenth century and partly remodelled by Robert Adam. The house is open to the public, and a nearby lakeside greensward is the venue for a series of popular summer evening classical concerts.

The Heath is a hilly area and parts of it enjoy extensive views over nearby central London. A major mystery is why it is here at all when London has sprawled and mushroomed around it. The answer seems to be by accident rather than design, its continued status as an open space having been assured first by aristocratic ownership and later by vigorous campaigning by influential local inhabitants. The Heath is rarely crowded and it is quite easy to lose yourself here and maintain the illusion that you are anywhere but the centre of Britain's largest metropolis.

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Scenes near the Heath's southern edge

Woodland and parkland north of Hampstead Ponds

Mixed grassland and woodland towards the west of the heath

The house and gardens of Kenwood

The outer grounds of Kenwood house, and a scene by the lake

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This page last updated 30th October 2002