On the Capital Ring Walk 11 we passed north of Hampstead Heath. Since we have postponed the remaining sections till spring we thought it would be opportune to explore Hampstead Heath.
The city of London claim that “Hampstead Heath is one of London’s most popular open spaces, situated just six kilometres from Trafalgar Square. An island of beautiful countryside, the magic of Hampstead Heath lies not only in its rich wildlife and extensive sports and recreational opportunities, but also in its proximity and accessibility to millions of people. There is a zoo, an athletics track, an education centre, extensive children's facilities, three swimming ponds and a Lido.”
There are numerous literature references:
“Hampstead Heath was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the London area, with a focus on Parliament Hill to the south. The episode was presented by Bill Oddie, who lives in nearby Gospel Oak, and watches birds there regularly.
Whilst living in London, Karl Marx and his family went to the Heath regularly, as their favourite outing. John Atkinson Grimshaw, Victorian era painter, painted an elaborate night-time scene of Hampstead Hill in oils. Hampstead Heath also provided the backdrop for the opening scene in Victorian writer Wilkie Collins' novel The Woman in White.
Hampstead Heath forms part of the main location for Will Self's 2006 novel The Book of Dave. Half of the book is set 500 years in the future, when all of London has been submerged by a catastrophic flood, leaving only the hilltops of Hampstead and the Heath as a tiny island - The Island of Ham. The parts of the book set in the present-day also make references to the Heath's high and dry location which would preserve the area in the event of sea level rises over 100m. Self writes, "...the Heath...this peculiar island, a couple of square miles of woodland and meadow set down in the lagoon of the city."
The radio story titled The Strange Case of the Murder in Wax written by Denis Green and Anthony Boucher and broadcast on January 7, 1946,featured a murderer who killed women on Hampstead Heath. Mrs. Miniver, by Jan Struther, includes a chapter called "On Hampstead Heath", where actions take place. A crucial event at the beginning of the novel Smiley's People, by John LeCarre (1979), takes place on Hampstead Heath, which is also the site of subsequent investigations. These scenes are also depicted in the BBC mini-series of the same name (1982).” etc.
So let’s see what it is all about.
Meet at 10.45 am Gospel Oak Railway Station and explore the trail 2 Heath Circuit (~6 miles) End time approximate.