I bought a book called London’s Hidden Walks which compiles all of the self-guided walking itineraries that you can do around London with an in-depth information of the history and interesting facts you can see on the way. It’s the best purchase I’ve ever done so far this year as I love walking around this city and discovering all of its hidden gems. I am still keeping up to my promise of exploring London every time I am off from work.
Last Thursday I finally completed one of its itineraries – a walk around the beautiful Hampstead. I went there twice as I ran out of time the first time I was there, I actually enjoyed my second visit more than the first. Possibly because I was already somehow familiar with some of the streets and places.
As tempting as it is for me to put the whole itinerary on this blog post, I just couldn’t do it because it would be very unfair for the author of the book where I got this itinerary from and it would defeat the purpose of me convincing you to buy the book series. So I’m just going to feature the highlights of my Hampstead walk.
London’s Hidden Walks: Hampstead Highlights
Hampstead is one of the affluent areas in London and the highest spot of the city. The wild and beautiful Hampstead Heath in close proximity attracted the wealthier class of London to move here during the days when tuberculosis, small pox and cholera were rampant in the whole city. The healthy hill air was what they’re after and the upper class are the only ones who can afford it.
There are about 900 blue plaques across London and it is believed that Hampstead has the most blue plaques compared to any London suburbs. Blue plaques are given to buildings humble and grand to honour the notable men and women who have lived or worked in them and with Hampstead’s rich history and affluent character, many famous people have lived in this neighborhood including Dame Judy Dench herself.
Church Row is believed to be the finest street in all of Hampstead featuring best-preserved Georgian buildings built in the 17th century. Apartments in this street are expensive as it’s the most prized address in Hampstead. At the end of the street, there is the St John at Hampstead Church which adds up to an already quaint look and feel of this place.
The St John-at –Hampstead churchyard is one of the many things I liked about Hampstead. I love visiting cemeteries for reasons I can’t explain but this one in specific is quite interesting as it’s a setting in one of the scenes of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In fact, most of the notable scenes of the book was set on Hampstead.
The churchyard is extremely atmospheric, you can easily spend a few minutes here if you love cemeteries like I do. There are many notable people buried in the graveyard around the church and also across it. I’m not very familiar with the people mentioned in the book to be completely honest, but you might be. 🙂
I also loved the look and feel of Holly Bush, a centuries-old pub and a grade II listed building. It is considered as Hampstead’s most charming and old fashioned public houses. The interior is just as beautiful and cozy, I recommend to have a stop here as you do this walk.
The Admiral’s House was featured in Mary Poppins book which was written by a Hampstead resident author – P. L Travers. The roof was built to look like a deck of a ship and the original owner fired cannon from the terraces during the King’s birthday or naval victories. It was believed that this house and its owner was the inspiration behind the character of Admiral Boon in the book.
Jack Straw’s Castle was once one of the most popular pubs in London and was frequented by Karl Marx and Charles Dickens. Dickens wrote about it on a letter that he sent to a friend inviting him over to Hampstead to walk around Hampstead Heath and have a pint at this pub afterwards. Jack Straw’s Castle is now converted into modern flats.
The Pergola and Hill Garden is my favorite stop in this walk. It’s just so gorgeous and atmospheric, I could’ve stayed there for the whole day. Exploring this place made me feel like I have stumbled upon a secret garden that I’m not allowed to be in. The structure is covered in moss and vines which it makes it all the more interesting.
The Pergola was created in the early 1900’s to entertain Lord Leverhulme’s guests as a setting of his extravagant Edwardian garden parties. Needless to say, he’s extremely wealthy. I enjoyed walking around the gardens and can’t help myself but imagine how grand and opulent this place might have been during its time. I made a mental note to revisit this place during spring or summer when the garden will be in full bloom.
The massive house just beside the Pergola is The Hill which was the home of Lord Leverhulme. It is now called Inverforth House and has since been converted into expensive apartments. If you or you know anyone living in this apartment, can you please let me see its interior? I can’t begin to imagine how grand it must be to wake up every morning in this place.
The Wells Tavern used to be closely associated with the Hampstead Spa. In the 17th century, it was known that 6 acres of Hampstead land contains a natural spring of iron-enriched water. This transformed the sleepy village of Hampstead to a popular and upmarket spa resort in the 18th century. It is now an award-winning pub and restaurant.
Another great place to have a break from the long walk is the café in the Burgh House where you can also browse through the museum to learn more about Hampstead’s history.
I loved exploring the many pedestrianized alleyways of Hampstead filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. One of the most popular streets in Hampstead is called Flask Walk where you can find Flask public house, one of the best pubs in North London where you can often spot a celebrity having a pint. I checked, nobody famous was there when I visited. Lol.
In the 18th century, this was where they used to fill the bottles or flask with spa water for distribution. The pub is said to be haunted by a ghost who likes to move tables and rattle windows. That’s something I’m not interested in finding out.
There are a lot more stops included in the itinerary but these are my favorite ones. As previously mentioned, I spent two full days to actually complete the itinerary but that’s because I take so many photos whenever I go for a walk. I just can’t help it specially since Hampstead is definitely a very instagrammable place. 🙂
London’s Hidden Walk is seriously a great purchase if you like walking around London and exploring its sights and learning more about its history. If you want to buy all three series, it costs £17.28 but you can also just buy the Volume 1 of the series where the Hampstead walk is featured for £7.99. You may click on the images below if you wish to buy it.
Disclaimer: The above are affiliate links which means that if you buy the book through these links, I will earn a bit of an income at no extra cost to you.
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