The Great Hampstead Heath  

Hampstead Heath is one of London’s greatest gifts - a wild and open space, vast and expansive, woody and winding, a place of gathering and community, free for all.

So in this unprecedented time, when our movements are limited and the greatest thing that we can do for our country and fellow citizens is stay indoors I’m sure I’m not the only Londoner whose heart is yearning for those heady, halcyon days where gatherings on the ‘The Heath’ were on the rise as the days become warmer and the sun becomes sunnier.

So, just for a moment, I will paint for you a brief memory of Hampstead Heath, accompanied by some photos of our dear friend Bella wearing Palava out on The Heath last summer. Hopefully it will give you enough of a taste to tide you over until the time comes when we can all enjoy that wonderful space again.

For me, a one-time country girl, now 10-years Londoner, Hampstead Heath is the perfect antidote to our crowded, rowdy city. Twentyfirst Century noise and fumes fall away as you delve deeper into 790 acres of parkland.

Unlike most of London’s parks, the Heath is gloriously wild and un-polished. Footpaths wind their way through dense and tangled woodland, only to emerge on vast expanses of meadow which stretch out before you, full of vigour and energy. There is not a manicured lawn in sight.

In the summer, the parched grass on the well trodden Parliament Hill provides the perfect picnic perch. Here, gone midnight, lovers, friends and wistful, solitary dreamers will still be found, gazing across the city at the lights that shine up from the city.

The rustling grasses of the vast expansive meadow which leads down to the ponds gives an impossibly romantic, soft and hazy backdrop to every moment. The palette is faded and gentle, making every moment beautiful. This is the place to sit and read for hours on end.

And let's not forget the iconic Victorian bathing ponds. Where to begin? So much tradition, so much history, so enjoyed and loved by Londoners. On hottest days of the year, these spots, shielded by trees, provide the most perfect retreat from the sun’s rays.

And (is this crazy?) I am also missing the inevitable midgie bites that seem to plague me after every long evening spent out on the Heath. Infuriating they may be, but they are also reminders of carefree evenings spent laughing with friends as we eat our way through dips and strawberries and make-shift sandwiches late into the night on Parliament Hill.

Oh, Hampstead Heath, we’ll be glad to have you back again when Lockdown is over.