Finally, I made it to the neighborhood of London I had been most anxious to see. With my focus on parks and gardens of London, it made sense to explore Hampstead Heath, which is a 700-acre park of long grass, fields, trees, and ponds. It was breathtaking to see such a wide span of open space just outside the heart of London. Even more outstanding was after walking up a steep hill of grassy fields turning around to see a full view of the London skyline.
Abby and I took one of our last afternoons to briefly explore this park. Immediately we realized how busy Hampstead Heath could be. With a track meet going on, young boys playing football, a local “lido” (that is, a pool) and various groups of people resting in the grass we saw the multiple uses of such a large open space. People tended to sit in circles on the grass; some sat in the longer grass making them seem protected by the tall blades.
Dogs roamed around within sight of owners. One white dog sat at the end of a trail leading to a wide-open space, almost as if he was guarding his owners who were resting in the grass.
A group of boys played a strange game involving a small bat and ball. It was almost like baseball as someone threw the ball towards the batter and when it was hit they ran to determined bases. For this game, though, the ball needed to bounce before hitting it and almost every time they missed.
Sunning ourselves and drifting in and out of sleep in the grass of a courtyard, all of these activities were going on around us. Kids’ shrieks and laughter as well as chatter from adults swept across the park.
It seems important to appreciate having a large park within a large city. You could even notice a drastic air quality difference at the park, compared to the crowded streets of London. Breathing there was pure with less industrial fumes.
We could have spent days wandering Hampstead Heath and still not see all of it. Other then open space for any activity imaginable, from napping to flying kites, there are also pools and ponds to swim in, as well as historical buildings to tour.
There’s something really important about having these green spaces for the people of London. It provides a place to escape the large city, a place to relax and socialize.