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.

Biodiversity on the Heath

Brand-new interpretation boards, promoting appreciation and conservation of Nature on the Heath, have been produced by the Society working with the City of London , English Heritage and the Marylebone Birdwatching Society . Placed at seven entrances, they will be changed every season to reflect the Heath’s biodiversity and seasonality. Read more…

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

Impact of latest Lockdown on the Heath

Hampstead Heath remains open.
Due to increased visitor numbers and wet weather, the ground conditions are very muddy. Please bear this in mind when planning your visit. (You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day.)
Public toilets are open (although toilets within facilities, such as the Athletics’ Track, are closed). Please ensure you wear a face mask when entering and using the toilets. There are frequently long queues to access the toilets, which will be closed at set intervals throughout the day to allow staff to clean and re-stock supplies.
Please take your litter and waste away with you and dispose of it at home. Litter and dog waste bins are still being emptied. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Heath Staff to maintain vehicle access across the sites as the paths are very busy which impacts waste collection arrangements.
The car parks remain open but are very busy, especially at weekends.
Opening hours remain as advertised (including the Hill Garden & Pergola).
Playgrounds across the sites are open. Cafés are providing a takeaway service, but Café outdoor seating areas are not available.
In line with the National Lockdown, the following facilities have been closed:
• The Parliament Hill Athletics Track
• Tennis courts at Parliament Hill, Golders Hill Park
• The Parliament Hill Fields Lido
• The Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds
• The Peggy Jay Centre
• Outdoor Gym equipment at Parliament Hill
Licensed Events, such as Be Military Fit and the Winter Swimming Club are also suspended during the National Lockdown.

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.

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

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. We’d like to thank members for writing to oppose more cycling on the Heath.

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.

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