The Heath – My Year on Hampstead Heath
by Hunter Davies
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The eight hundred acres of Hampstead Heath lie just four miles from central London; and yet unlike the manicured inner-city parks, it feels like the countryside: it has hills and lakes, wild spots and tame spots. You can spend hours walking round it – and only ever cross one road.
Hunter Davies has lived within a stone’s throw of Hampstead Heath for more than sixty years and has walked on it nearly every day of his London life. For him, it is not just a place of recreation and relaxation – as rich in history and monuments as it is in natural wonders – but also a treasure-house of memories and emotions. In The Heath, he visits all parts of this, the largest area of common land in the Britain’s capital city: from Kenwood House to the Vale of Health, from Parliament Hill to Boudicca’s Mound, and from the Ladies Bathing Pond to the fabulous pergola – wonder of the remote West Heath.
As he walks, Davies talks to the diverse array of individuals who frequent the Heath: regulars; visitors; dog walkers; stall holders at the weekly farmer’s market; famous faces having their morning stroll; twenty-first-century hippies spreading peace, love and happiness. Engaging, informative and supremely well-observed, The Heath is an affectionate portrait of one of London’s – and the world’s – iconic urban green spaces.