Visiting Hampstead Heath

A peaceful sprawl of London, this space of woodland and meadows is nestled inside Zone Two and covers over 800 acres. As inspiration for C S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, the heath is a great place to relax and escape city life

One of London’s most popular open spaces, Hampstead Heath is only four miles away from busy, bustling London city, but feels like a different world.

With its meadows and charming woodlands, the heath is home to about 23 species of butterflies, 180 bird species and a variety of flora.

The North London green space covers over 800 acres and is a great way to relax, ramble, picnic or enjoy skyline views.

There are up to 30 man-made ponds around the area, due to 300-year-old constructed dams.

Getting there:

Bus: The following buses serve various parts of Hampstead Heath: C2, H3, C11, 24, 46, 168, 210, 214, 268.

Tube: Northern line: Golders Green, Hampstead, Kentish Town.

Overground: Hampstead Heath and Gospel Oak.

Alight at ​Golders Green for Golders Hill Park, Hampstead for Hampstead Ponds​, Kentish Town for ​Parliament Hill and Highgate Ponds, Gospel Oak for​ Parliament Hill ​and Hampstead Heath​ for East Heath and Hampstead Ponds​

Hampstead Heath has a number of car parks (Parliament Hill Lido car park has 45 spaces and East Heath car park has 110 spaces). Up to two hours costs £3.70. Two – four hours costs £7.40. You can also pay by credit or debit card.

Click here for a map of the heath.

What to see:

Hampstead Village

A charming borough in North London, the village has boutique shops and plenty of delightful cafes to waste away the time.

Visit one of the many pubs or ganders at the florists, fresh fruit, vegetable and fish market stalls.

On the edge of the heath and situated around landscaped gardens, Kenwood House was once the home to the Mansfield family from the 18th to the 20th century, sitting within 112 acres of leafy parkland.

Kenwood now houses a magnificent collection of old master paintings, such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Turner.

Opening hours are Monday to Sunday 10.00 – 16.00 (Winter) or 17.00 (Summer). Admission is free.

Why not take a stop at Keats House, now a museum, that was once occupied by the Romantic poet during 1818 until he left for Rome in 1820.

Situated in Keats Grove, it is here where the poet composed his mysterious and magical lyric ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’, finished his narrative poem The Eve of St Agnes, and wrote his great odes of spring 1819 including ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.

Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 11am – 5pm and admission costs £7.50.

After all the sightseeing, pop into the legendary The Flask pub and enjoy a pint of Young’s PA in the bar.

Famed for its original screens, the old Victorian institution is a must and can be found on Flash Walk.

Swimming ponds

The UK’s only lifeguarded open-water swimming facilities, the ponds are open to the public all year long. Separated by ladies’ and men’s, the ponds are fed by the headwater springs of the River Fleet and are located within the picturesque enclave of Hampstead Heath.

Mixed group swimming can be found at the mixed pond or the lido at Parliament Hill.

There are no lockers or supervised areas, so belongings are left at your own risk.

The ponds open at 7.00am, with the exception of December (7.30am). A single day tickets costs £2.

Parliament Hill Viewpoint

A focal point for many of the heath’s visitors, the hill offers a great view of the Gherkin, Shard, Walkie-Talkie and the historical landmarks of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster.

On a clear day you can see as far as the East End and the Thames estuary, the Crystal Palace transmitter in the south-east and the hills of the North Downs which border the south of London.

It’s thought that Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby planned to watch parliament being destroyed from the top of the hill, on the 5th of November 1605.

Formerly known as Traitor’s Hill, it is also thought that its name came from being a defence point during the English Civil War and was a place for the troops loyal to parliament.

The upper parts of the hill are still unmown in summer and is crisscrossed by a network of pathways.

TIP: Keep a look out for the flock of Flamingos!

TIP: The Parliament Hill Lido can be found at the bottom of the hill next to Gospel Oak railway station.

Checking out c & J.

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