Home to some of London’s largest areas of parkland, tree-lined avenues and stunning views over to the City, Hampstead Heath is a walker’s paradise.
The heath enables residents of London to keep fit and healthy on a morning jog or weekend ramble through its gorgeous woods and tracks.
And visitors to London, who have shopped till they’ve dropped on Oxford Street or Knightsbridge often head to Hampstead Heath for a quiet stroll to recoup and relax.
Hampstead is located on the Northern Line and you can get to the heath from either Hampstead Tube in the heart of Hampstead Village (10 minutes walk) or Hampstead Heath station on the London Overground line (a few minutes).
My favourite walk around the heath is to enter from Kenwood House on Hampstead Lane – a 17th century country mansion in the heart of Hampstead Heath.
Kenwood House is about a 20-minute walk from Hampstead Tube and surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens, open parkland and walking tracks.
History Of Kenwood House
Kenwood House is thought to have been originally built sometime in the early 1600s. It is thought by a man named John Bill (The King’s, James I’s printer) who had bought the land in 1616. Throughout few hundred years since it has changed hands a lot and also been transformed quite considerably over time too.
If you do this walk around the gardens you can see what remains with all the changes each owner made. For example in 1746 it was bought by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, who added the Orangery. In 1754 The Lord Cheif Justice, William Murray bought the estate and turned all the fishponds into one, now known as Wood Pond.
Bigger changes to the house came in the 1760s and 1770s. Robert Adam, a great Scottish neoclassical architect took about modernising and transforming the house into a neoclassical villa for William. Who had now been made the 1st Earl of Mansfield.
It passed down through the Earls of Mansfiield until the 6th Earl, Alan David Murray sold it in 1914. It was let out to rich tenants for a number of years until Edward Cecil Guinness, the 1st Earl of Iveagh bought it in 1925 with acres of land before giving it to the Council. It was this that helped us, the public be able to see and explore it today.
Walking To Kenwood
The road up to Kenwood hugs the heath and although there are several access points into the woods along your route – however, it’s worth waiting till you get to Kenwood to discover the heath.
When you arrive you get a sense of the immediate tranquility and charm of Kenwood – walk a little further and you’ve escaped to a secluded enchanted forests and wooded tracks deep within the heath.
The house is now full of ancient treasures, paintings and exhibitions. There are even paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer. For those on a family day there’s also a café, the orangery and outdoor terrace of Kenwood for refreshments after your stroll.