21 February 2012

Hampstead Heath in the snow


I was in Hampstead for the theatre and that allowed me to make my first visit to Hampstead Heath. From Richmond that is an easy journey, you just take the Overground to, er. Hampstead Heath station and cross the road.

A short walk through a narrow section of the park takes you to the ponds in the south-east corner with houses looking on enviously. Here the snow and ice still had a grip on the land that it had lost south of the river.

Taking random paths from there, trying to head towards the centre of the park and to keep away from people, took me in to landscapes that I had only seen before on holidays in Eastern Europe.

Far from retreating from the sun, the snow was still fresh and crisp and made a satisfying crunching sound as you walked.

If I knew the paths I could have go lost in the snow's confusion but I managed to get totally lost without the snow's help.

The map suggested that Kenwood was a place to head for but much like the Three Men in a Boat could not avoid the centre of Hampton Court Maze I continually found myself walking away from it.

I finally got in to the grounds of the house and carefully followed the map to the house itself, only to find myself leaving the grounds and back in the Heath again.

A second foray in to the Kenwood estate was more successful and  I was back on the main path to my chosen exit.

The snow kept me company all the way while the bare trees caught the light of the falling sun to create contrasts and shadows.

Even after an hour or more the landscape still felt and looked unnatural, which only reinforced the reason for being there.

We get so little snow in London that there is a childish excitement when it comes that draws us in to its heart. It even calls to us all the way from Hampstead.

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