The green lungs of London
On a snowy afternoon, while walking on Hampstead Heath, author C.S. Lewis was inspired with the idea for a new novel; it became The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Anyone who has ever been to the Heath will have to admit that there is something magical about it.
It’s hard to point out exactly what makes the Heath so special, so enchanting and alluring. Maybe it’s the combination of old and new woodlands, the ponds, the many paths, the wildlife, or the hilly landscape. Or perhaps it’s simply the sheer joy of finding 800 acres of breath-taking nature and fresh air right here in London.
Whatever the reason, artists have always been drawn to the Heath. There are numerous poems, paintings, and books dedicated to, and inspired by, its beauty. But even though this collection of art is impressive in its own right, there is only one way to truly experience the Heath, and that’s to walk on it.
I say walk, but I mean roam. Follow the main walkways or discover an overgrown path. Leap over a brook, walk up Parliament Hill and enjoy the stunning view. Unlike many of the other London parks, the Heath is devoid of signs pointing you towards the nearest tube station or tourist attraction. This just adds to the feeling of truly being out in nature. Once you set foot on the Heath, you leave the rest of the city behind.
A newspaper from 1816 described the Heath “like Shakespeare and Newton, the property of Europe”. Common land, open to the public, and yet having the qualities of a hidden treasure.