Winters in London tend to be very cold and wet (and dark, thanks to its northern position). It is certainly not my favorite time of year, but what does impress me every winter is that regardless of the weather, the Brits still get outside and carry on. Wellies (rain boots) and brollies (umbrellas) are standard winter-ware accessories! A favourite place for Londoners to gather (come rain, sleet, snow, or sun) is the Hampstead Heath in Northwest London. The ‘Heath’ is London’s largest historic parkland, and arguably the most beautiful. A walk in the Heath will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the English countryside, far from the hustle and bustle of London, yet you are still smack in the middle of this busy city! Unlike the more manicured and planned Royal Parks of London, the Heath is wild in nature, offering 3.2 sq km of roaming meadows, fishing and swimming ponds, dark and lush woodlands, hiking and biking trails, and some of London’s best playgrounds. It is here where you can take advantage of a windy winter’s day by flying a kite from the top of ‘kite hill.’ No matter the weather, you can always find families gathered here to enjoy this decades-old tradition. Kite Hill is one of the highest peaks in the Heath, and from here you can enjoy incredible views of central London. At the bottom of this hill is one of London’s best playgrounds, the newly-renovated Parliament Hill Playground. Your kids will surely not complain about being out in the cold if they’re offered a bit of playtime in this popular playground! A winter’s walk in the Heath would surely not be complete without a visit to Kenwood House. This beautiful 18th century country house, located at the top of the Heath, is home to a stunning library and houses a good collection of famous paintings (including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Turner, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Vermeer). If it’s an especially chilly day, you can also visit its café for tea and biscuits to warm yourselves up! The Hampstead Heath is one of London’s finest outdoor gems, and certainly worth visiting no matter the season. Just don’t forget the wellies!
Courtney writes for Babyccino from London.