Hiking Hampstead Heath

One of my favourite things about London is that you can explore the city and find something new every day.

Husband was off for the first time in two weeks yesterday, so we decided to explore Hampstead Heath, which is sort of near where we live, and we weren’t disappointed.

Hampstead Heath is massive at 320 hectares (790 acres) and is a mix of wildlife, meadows, forest and open green space, dotted with ponds, three open-air public swimming pools and wild flowers and groomed English gardens. Its history is a long one, first entering records before 1000 AC.

We first came upon this gorgeous Hampstead Pergola & Hill Gardens, in which I felt like I was transported to the Secret Garden. It was a large structure on which you could climb to a second landing, and look down at the slightly overgrown garden below filled with various roses and other flowers. It had this long-lost feel to it.

I looked into its history, and it has a unique one.

The pergola and hill gardens date back to 1904 when Lord Leverhulme, a wealthy philanthropist and lover of landscape gardening, bought a large town house called “The Hill”. Over the following year, he expanded his estate by acquiring the surrounding land, and created what we got to find yesterday. According to historic-uk.com, Leverhulme wanted it to be the setting for extravagant Edwardian garden parties, but also a place his family and friends could enjoy.

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If you’ve ever read The Great Gatsby, you probably remember the party scenes. This place gives this feeling that in its time, it was the epitome of grandeur, like in the book, which has faded with time, but hasn’t lost its sense of specialness.

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and behind this amazing space, was an incredible home. Maybe it’s Jay Gatsby’s place!

Actually, it’s Inverforth House, built in 1896.
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The garden behind the pergola is quintessential English, to me.

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We roamed past Kenwood House (we didn’t stop, but I’ve been before – check it out, it’s very neat)

and ended our day near Dartmouth Hill, relaxing with a picnic and beer. It was a great summer day in London.

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 Do you have any favourite secret London sites? Please share! We’re always looking for new places to roam in our new city.


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