Exploring the Natural Beauty of London’s Hampstead Heath

On my quest to rediscover London with a pair of fresh eyes after living in the city for 25 years, Hampstead Heath was one of my first walks among #33walksinLondonyourshouldntmiss. In this post, I’m sharing my insight into the Heath Village.

Hampstead Heath, often called “the Heath” by locals, is a 790-acre green haven in northwest London. It’s a slice of wilderness in the city’s heart, offering an escape from the concrete jungle. Despite being a stone’s throw from the bustling city centre, it feels like a world away, providing a respite from the urban hustle and bustle. 

Stepping back in history, Hampstead Heath’s origins date back to the Middle Ages when it was a patchwork of woodlands, meadows, and open fields. Over time, it transformed from a royal hunting ground to a public space shaped by the hands of conservationists. Exploring its history is like taking a journey through time as you uncover the layers of its past.

Hampstead Heath has been a sanctuary for Londoners and a muse for artists, writers, and musicians throughout history. Think of John Keats composing poetry under its ancient trees or George Orwell finding inspiration for his literary works during his walks. The Heath has a long-standing connection with creativity.

When I stepped into Keats Grove, where the Keats House Museum is, it felt like walking into a rustic village. It was the beginning of the summer, and the vegetation was in full bloom. Flowers sprawling over the fences and glimpsing into the alleyway. On Downshire Hill, the main doors open, leading to mansions, letting you peep into their magnificent garden. I started with a tour of Keats House Garden, full of blooming flowers. 

I continued my path via the High Street and crossed into a more secluded area away from the city noise into more calm surroundings. I walked along Hampstead Parish Church and the cemetery, where I encountered a black cat on a leash out on a walk with its owner. The way led to the Holly Bush Pub via Admiral’s House and Fenton House. The Admiral’s house stands like a ship in the landscape of London houses. The rumour goes that this house was the inspiration behind the Banks’ neighbour house in the Mary Poppins movie. 

On your walk, you’ll reach the famous Holly Bush pub nested in the corner of Holly Mount, one of the most famous pubs in London and probably the most photographed. On Flask Walk, My steps took me to a portion of the village I had never explored, with yellow and blue doors and cottages next to the Old Bathhouse, with a massive name that you couldn’t miss, over its facade named the Wells & Camden Trust bath and Washouses 1888 on the Flask Walk and leading in Well Walk.

Hampstead Heath’s Natural Wonders

One of the remarkable aspects of Hampstead Heath is its astounding biodiversity. It has many flora and fauna, from ancient woodlands to lush meadows. The Heath is particularly famous for its various ponds, including the iconic Hampstead Heath open-water swimming ponds. These ponds are very popular, and you must book in advance if you want to dip your toes in the open water, but you can still start to discover the ponds by walking through woodlands and fields open onto children’s playgrounds that give this area of London such a countryside vibe. 
A walk around Hampstead Village feels like so many areas in London. It’s hard to believe that you are in a metropolis. The gardens and parks around the village are a pure delight. Make sure to add Hampstead Heath to your places to visit in London. There are also many places to dive in open water at the ponds. Start your walk from Hampstead Heath tube station and walk around via Keats House and Well Walk via the Holly Bush Pub.