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Posted by Laura Orange | File under : , , ,
When in London, after visiting the usual suspects like The Tower of London and Trafalgar Square and experiencing all the urban charms, head outside of the city. The London that you see today was once a series of separate villages. The nearby village of Hampstead, with its adjacent heath land, still retains its rural charm and makes for an excellent mini day trip.

Spring Evening on Parliament Hill

Hampstead and Hampstead Heath 

Although only 15 minutes by Tube from Central London, Hampstead maintains its old-world charm. It’s filled with Regency and Georgian houses (many set in lovely gardens) favored by artists and writers, from Keats to John le Carré. Flask Walk, the village’s pedestrian mall, provides an eclectic assemblage of historic pubs, shops, and chic boutiques. The village itself has a lot of old alleys, steps, courts, and groves just begging to be explored. Adjacent Hampstead Heath is 800 acres of high parkland offering an opportunity for picnicking, swimming, and fishing. On a clear day, you can see St. Paul’s Cathedral and even the hills of Kent. An excursion here takes up at least a half-day or more.  The Hampstead Tube stop is 1 minute from Flask Walk and the Hampstead Heath at Parliament Hill, is right behind the Tube stop. A short walk will  lead you up into the park itself.

Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath

Kenwood House 

This lovely neoclassical villa sits on the shore of Kenwood Lake in the northern section of Hampstead Heath. The villa was remodeled in the 1760s by Robert Adam. Inside, you find a small but impressive collection of jewelry and paintings, with works by Gainsborough, Rembrandt, Reynolds, Turner, and Vermeer. You can get something to eat in the cafeteria in the former coach house. For an enjoyable summer outdoor concert experience, visit the Kenwood Lakeside concerts. A series of outdoor concerts are held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays in July and August. A free shuttle bus runs between the East Finchley Tube station and the concert bowl. From Central London, you need at least 20 minutes to get to the Tube stop and another 15 minutes for the ride on the shuttle bus. 

The Pergola, Hampstead Heath