The Heath & Hampstead Society fights to preserve the wild and natural state of the Heath; to maintain the character and amenities of Hampstead; and to promote the study of local history, natural history and conservation.

Commuter Cycling threatens Heath

Prior to the pandemic, the position with Heath cycle routes was that the City would not review any new proposals for more cycle paths until 2022.

In light of the pandemic, Camden Council are now looking at measures to encourage cycling (etc) in the borough and have launched a consultation.

There are at least six proposals for increased cycling on the Heath.

Comments and responses are required  by the end of Sunday 28 June. 

The position of the Society is that no more cycling should be allowed on the Heath. A vision of how more cycling would adversely affect the Heath and its pedestrians has been given to us during lockdown when the City was unable to enforce the Heath bylaws and cycling was uncontrolled. We received many valid complaints about the damage to the Heath and the danger to pedestrians.

The Heath now gets 11 million pedestrian visits a year and there is simply not the space on the existing pathways for more cycling.

If you support our opposition to more cycling, please open the map https://camdensafetravel.commonplace.is/comments, click on the nearest icon relating to the points below, and oppose the suggestion in your own words. The Heath is not, and should not be made, part of London’s transport infrastructure. We firmly believe that any increased cycling arrangements now introduced under the pretext of the pandemic will become permanent.

Please ask friends and neighbours to do the same, if they are like-minded.

Current proposals for more Heath cycling (there may be others):

read more…

London’s Refuge since 1349

By Will Coles, Heath Sub-Committee.

View from Parliament Hill 1913

For many Londoners, our green spaces – especially the Heath – are an important amenity where we can take refuge from city life with fresh air, wildlife, and beautiful views. Hampstead in particular has long been seen as a retreat in times of crisis.
In his History of Westminster Abbey, the 15th century monk John Flete recorded that the abbot of Westminster, Simon de Bircheston, fled to Hampstead in order to escape the Black Death in May 1349. However, de Bircheston efforts were in vain and he died later that year from plague.
In January 1524, soothsayers predicted that London would face a great flood and thousands of homes would be swept away on February 1.
Many families, both rich and poor, fled to Hampstead believing that its high elevation would protect them.

read more…

Society’s Bird Survey finds family of buzzards.

A nesting birds survey conducted by the Society has found a family of buzzards at Kenwood.
Jeff Waage, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who is leading the research, said: “It is exceedingly rare to see these sorts of birds in an urban area, and now all of a sudden they’re here, hanging
around. It’s something that we never expected to see when we decided to begin the survey. Our buzzards show us how easily wildlife can return if we just make space for it.”

Article in The Times

How the City of London Corporation is currently managing Hampstead Heath

From the Superintendent of Hamsptead Heath 27 March 2020
We are working hard to keep the Heath open during this National Emergency and we are asking all our visitors to help us care for the Heath by following the Government’s advice to observe social distancing, protect the NHS and save lives.
The health and welfare of our Heath staff and visitors is our overriding priority.
Therefore, there are a small number of staff on duty at any one time and they will only be performing critical services.
The following key messages, based on Government guidelines, are being promoted using social media and signage on site.
● Keep at least 2 metres away from others and only visit the Heath to get your daily exercise of walking or running.
● Take all litter and waste away with you. All waste bins have been removed as we do not have the staff resources to collect the waste.
● Keep dogs under control, if necessary, on a lead, and take dog waste away with you for disposal at home, in your black bin. All dog waste bins have also been removed.
● No picnics or social gatherings of any kind.

The following facilities are closed until further notice:
All cafes
All playgrounds
All public toilets
All staff offices
The Bathing Ponds and Parliament Hill Fields Lido
The gym at the Lido
All tennis courts
The Trim Trail and outdoor gym equipment
The Athletics Track
The Hill Garden and Pergola
All car parks.
(East Heath car park has been given over for the sole use of the NHS
for 24-hour access for their staff working at the Royal Free Hospital.)
All Heath events until June have been postponed and all filming and photoshoots have been suspended.
Football, rugby and all sports games have been cancelled.
A decision has also been taken to hold the closing time at Golders Hill Park to 7pm to relieve the pressure on staff. We are asking visitors to leave promptly.

Thank you for helping us to keep the Heath open by following these emergency measures.


Working together to care for the Heath during the pandemic

Update from The Heath Superintendent, 17 April 2020
Your continued support is very much appreciated as the Government lockdown is extended. You can help us by sharing these updates, via email, with your friends and neighbours so it reaches as many people as possible. Over the past couple of weeks as the Government restrictions continue it has become clear that particularly in London, where many people live in flats and do not have access to gardens, parks and green spaces are playing a crucial role in keeping the population well, both mentally and physically. The Government’s Guidance is clear – stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. We are working together with our stakeholders to keep the Heath open for daily exercise because of the huge benefits this has for health and wellbeing. To help us do this and limit the spread of coronavirus, our visitors have got to do their bit too. We’re urging people to stay local,avoid gathering in groups, and keep at least two metres apart. Only use the Heath once a day to walk or run and take all litter and dog waste away with you. We are also reminding visitors to keep close control of their dogs, or to keep them on a lead if necessary. We are receiving a lot of correspondence about cycling on the Heath. There are four shared use paths on the Heath where cyclists must give way to walkers and not exceed 12MPH. The routes are marked on all the maps as you enter the Heath as well as being waymarked on the ground. The warm weather over Easter did bring many more people to the Heath but we were pleased to see that the vast majority followed the Government’s Guidance by respecting social distancing and only visiting to get exercise. Metropolitan Police Officers have been advising those who are not following Government Guidance.
Golders Hill Park continues to close at 7pm each evening. Thank you for your continuing support by leaving promptly to allow our staff can get home at the end of their shifts.
We are encouraged to find less litter and dog waste as our visitors have reacted positively and taken waste away with them. We hope this is a change in behaviour that will stick after this crisis is over.
Thank you for your on-going support.
Help us to care for the Heath, observe social distancing, protect the NHS and save lives.

All Heath Walks are CANCELLED until further notice due to the Coronavirus.

Calling all Birdwatchers

We would like to improve our knowledge of where birds are nesting on the Heath. This spring we welcome any members who regularly walk on the Heath to report where they see birds nesting. We will provide you with information on how to spot a nesting bird, and a website where you can record your observations.

If you are interested please call Pete Mantle on 0775 369 6444 or email info@HeathandHampstead.org.uk

For more about the Survey and about diversity on the Heath see the latest newsletter.


Society wins case against builder of illegal new house on Heath

‘The site of Bren Cottage’


Follow the history of the case through our Newsletter archive:

Hidden house discovered

Trees lost

Owner appeals

Battle lines drawn

Waiting

Victory in court



Society thanks the City for 30 years of caring for the Heath.

The City of London Corporation has been managing and preserving the Heath since 1989. During that time, the Society has been working closely with the City and it was only fitting to host a party to mark that anniversary and honour the relationship. The selection of photographs, courtesy of Diana Von R Photography, and the reprint of the addresses by Society Chair Marc Hutchinson and Karina Dostalova, Chair of the City’s Hampstead Heath Management Committee, recreate the festive ambience from that late summer evening.

read more…

Shepherds in action

Watch The Society welcome the sheep!