We were sitting at home on one Sunday during cold January after lunch lethargy. “We need to do something,” said my husband. “Let’s go somewhere. Don’t you have anything on your list?” I was too lazy to move from our warm home to venture out on a cold Sunday afternoon. So without much enthusiasm, I told him about my desire to wander the lanes of Hampstead with him. I had on my own wandered around Hampstead village one beautiful late autumn day. I was sure that he would love it too. He looked outside at the sunlight breaking through and jumped up telling me to get ready. I could see that he was suffering from cabin fever. So we bundled up and set out to explore Hampstead.
Our first trip to the village of Hampstead was last year when we were looking for a home to rent. We had wandered up and down the street of Georgian homes waiting for the realtor to come and show us the apartment in one of those charming Georgian homes. That apartment didn’t work out but oh, how we wanted it to be the one. I loved the idea of living in a charming English village not too far from London. But to our regret that was not to be. So on that day, walking the Hampstead lanes, my mind for a minute thought, we could have been living here!
We did not have a map or a self-guided plan. We just decided that we were going to walk wherever our whims took us. I had general idea what we could see from my earlier walk. We turned left on Church Street from Heath Street heading towards Hampstead Parish Church. At this old church we stopped to peek inside. To our surprise and pleasure, someone was practicing on the organ. We stopped for a few moments to enjoy the music. There is a big churchyard next to the Church where painter John Constable is buried amongst many other famous people. Church Street also has some lovely homes.
We took Holly Walk Street next to the Church Yard. I like this narrow street, especially the homes. The homes on the left and on the right of the street are totally different. We admired the different colored doors on the row houses on our left. On the right there were homes with gardens with mix of architecture styles. We ended up at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. This Church surprised me. It is not the usual church built in stone with spires but is a church with a simple white facade. It is part of a row of homes. We again stopped to try and take a look inside; however, the Church was closed and we couldn’t admire this tiny chapel. But through the cast iron grill, we took a peek and I captured couple of pictures.
‘On we moved. We turned right on the tiny dead ended Holly Berry Lane and admired the historic homes. We walked towards Mount Vernon street next.
Our aim was to just walk and admire the historic homes and vistas. This area is on a height so be prepared for a climb if you do go. I loved the charm of tiny lanes between the trees and bushes. I loved the charm of old fashioned street lights. All these lanes are for pedestrians only. I felt the village’s friendliness when you suddenly come upon another person on this lane. We came upon steps or a path which went downhill, taking people down towards Heath Street. We enjoyed suddenly coming upon stairs or a path and peeking down to see what was there. We were like children discovering something new at every turn.
We then came upon a pub, The Holly Bush. We stopped to check out the menu. We went further on to a dead end stop at Holly Mount to see the high rises of London in the distance. We could see Shard. We enjoyed the views and went half way down the Holly Mount path. We decided no, we still wanted to walk on the top rather than go down to Heath street. So we went back up and set out to discover more.
Finally after wandering, we came upon this sign. I was so excited to see the name of one of my favorite authors, Daphne Du Maurier. Her book Rebecca was one of my favorite books. I wanted to go to Burgh House and from there to Flask street. So we decided that’s where we will end our walk and find a nice cafe to have a cup of coffee before heading home. We went through Admiral Way to Mount Street down to Heath Street.
We crossed Heath Street to Elm Row, but by this time I was getting confused. Where was Burgh House? I remembered I had taken Elm Row in Autumn. I had forgotten how I had reached there from Burgh House. So finally we gave in and opened ever reliable Google Maps on our phone. With Google Map’s help we came upon Burgh House. This house was built in 1703 and now houses the Hampstead Museum. I had admired the garden cafe on my earlier trip. Maybe we can stop there for coffee.
But the cafe was closed so we moved on to my favorite Flask Street. I enjoy the hustle and bustle of that street and I love to browse the little shops.
By the time we reached Flask street it was getting late. The sun was setting and the January evening temperature was falling rapidly. We decided to grab a quick cup of coffee and head home. There are lot more things to do in Hampstead. Fenton House and poet Keats house are open to public and are worth a visit. Of course there are plenty of lovely cafes and restaurants to explore! Once again we promised ourselves we will be back, come spring!
PS. I have used some pictures from my earlier walk during Autumn. So if you see a pumpkin in a picture or two don’t think people are so lapse that even after Christmas, they still have their Autumn decorations.
I have not covered Hampstead Heath as part of this post. We have gone there for a walk in the summer and loved the park and Parliament Hill. If you are a fan of the movie Notting Hill, as I am, you will remember Kenwood House at Hampstead Heath where some scenes were shot.