I recently signed up to a website called 'Me and You Health' which is an online community site for promoting better health and well-being. So I was pleased when my daily challenge for today was to go for a walk with someone and chat on the way. This was music to my ears - walking and talking are amongst my two favourite activities, so inspite of the rain, I went for a walk around Hampstead - a beautiful and historic suburb of North West London. I have been to Hampstead lots of times before, but have mostly stuck to the main roads, and Hampstead Heath. To guide me through the historic village, I used a book called 'Walking Village London' by Andrew Duncan (you can find it listed in the shop).
The walk started at the tube station, and before long I found myself (mysteriously) in a cafe drinking very luxurious hot chocolate...
After sheltering from the rain, I began the walk which was lovely and quiet because by its very nature, it takes you down back streets and away from the main drag. I loved the Victorian architecture and the mix of buildings, many of which are now private apartments. The proximity of Hampstead to Central London (4 miles to Charing Cross) makes it a very expensive place to live (and looking in estate agents windows certainly proves this). Despite being so close to Central London, Hampstead still has a village air about it; it has markets, winding narrow streets, tons of cafes and lots of communal green spaces.
Further along I noticed this plaque on the side of a building which reads: '...Thank almighty God for his special mercy in sparing this parish during the visitation of cholera in the year 1849...'
Looking down from New End towards New End Square, I noticed The Shard which is due for completion in May 2012. It already became the tallest building in the European Union in December and when it is finished it will be 310m tall.
I loved this second hand bookshop down Flask Walk.
And right next to it was this Banksy-style artwork...
I then arrived at the Antiques Emporium and wandered through the shops. There were objects and pieces from various eras, but I particulary loved these antique quilts.
Walking out onto the main road for a few minutes, I noticed this huge ghost sign on the front of this building:
An earlier part of the walk took me to St. John's church and the burial tomb of John Constable, painter of The Hay Wain.
Constable came to live in Hampstead in the 1820's to escape the pollution of Central London, and breathe the clean air. As his wife suffered from tuberculosis, and he loved to paint on Hampstead Heath, it was a good place for both of them. Constable painted numerous studies of the heath.
Well, that concludes my weekend walk from today. I learnt lots of new things about a part of London I have always admired from afar. As my guide book says the only way to really get a feel for a place is to get out there and start exploring. So what are you waiting for? Get those walking shoes on and get out there!
You can read about other walks I have done here:
Lastly, you know I always welcome your comments, so drop me a line below :)