This 4.3-mile circular walk captures the best of Hampstead Heath and Hampstead Village. Swim in the ponds, visit a grand house, take in the views, and end at a traditional pub. Map and instructions included.

By: Mark Barnes | Published: 9 Jan 2024 | Last update: 26 Jan 2024

Hampstead Heath is a large ancient park in north London. Wild and rugged, it is a mix of rough heathland, bobbly hills, woodlands, and pretty ponds. In the park you can visit a grand house with landscaped gardens, go wild swimming in the lake and soak up excellent viewpoints.

On the edge of the heath is Hampstead Village, a smart London neighbourhood with Victorian and modernist architecture and plenty of old-school pubs. 

Together Hampstead Heath and the village combine to create one of the best walks in London.

We have designed a circular walking route that takes in the best of both. You can complete the walk in about 2 hours but come on a warm sunny day and you could spend much longer.

hampstead heath viewpoint
PARLIAMENT HILL, HAMPSTEAD HEAD

ABOUT THE HAMPSTEAD HEATH WALK

There are many paths that criss-cross Hampstead Heath. We have chosen our favourite circular route which captures the best sights in the park and the most interesting parts of Hampstead Village.

There is an opportunity to swim in the bathing ponds, so if that appeals to you, bring your swimming gear with you.

HAMPSTEAD HEATH MAP

Use our map to navigate this circular walk around Hampstead Heath so you don’t miss any of the major sights.

WHERE TO START?

We recommend starting and finishing at Hampstead Heath Underground Station. However, you could also use Hampstead Heath Train Station. We suggest doing the walk in a clockwise direction.

HOW LONG?

The walk is 4.3 miles (6.9 kilometres) which would take about 2 hours without stops. However, there are plenty of viewpoints, swimming spots, quirky streets, and great pubs along the route so you could easily spend half a day exploring.

kenwood house hampstead heath
KENWOOD HOUSE GARDENS

START / HAMPSTEAD HEATH TUBE STATION

Make your way to Hampstead tube station. Exiting the station turn left down Hampstead High Street and immediately left again on Flask Walk. This narrow alleyway has plenty of quirky, independent shops. 

FLASK & WELL WALK

Peruse the second-hand bookstore, drop in on JM Pennifeather’s pen shop, or simply grab a coffee for a caffeine fix. There are a couple of delis here, so it’s a great place to stock up if you want to have a picnic in the park.

Continuing on, Flask Walk turns into Well Walk. Dotted with Grade II listed buildings from the nineteenth century the highlight is the Wells Tavern, an excellent neighbourhood pub where you’ll find locals spilling onto the street on sunny days.

At the end of Well Walk cross over the road and into Hampstead Heath.

HAMPSTEAD HEATH

This ancient heath spans 320 hectares and is a wild park of woodland, meadows, ponds, and gardens. There are numerous paths crisscrossing the heath, but we have picked our favourite route which captures all the highlights.

On entering the park turn left and follow the route on our Hampstead Heath walking map above. It passes the pretty Vale of Heath Pond, and a strange housing community tucked into the park, before bending right and winding up towards Kenwood House.

hampstead heath london walk
HAMPSTEAD HEATH

HAMPSTEAD HEATH SCULPTURES

As you approach Kenwood house there are two sculptures to admire.

Henry Moore’s semi-abstract monumental bronze ‘Two Piece Reclining Figure No.5’ sits in the corner of a large field. The upright piece represents the head and the torso, while the lower piece the legs. Moore’s reclining figures are always female because he associated women with life, survival, fecundity, and endurance.

Barbara Hepworth’s abstract sculpture ‘Monolith Empyrean’ is 9 feet high and made of blue Corrib stone. As Hepworth stated, ‘the monolith is a monument to those who seek their freedom in the upper air even though it involves fire and falling earthwards.’

KENWOOD HOUSE

Kenwood house is set on the northern edge of Hampstead Heath. Constructed in the 17th century, rich interiors are decorated with artworks by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Turner, and Constable.

Surrounding the house are 112 acres of glorious parkland including an attractive lake and bridge. Kenwood House is free to enter and well worth exploring.

There’s a café and gift shop in the gardens. Before heading back into the heath, take the small detour to Prospect Hill for views over the city.

kenwood house hampstead heath

LADY’S BATHING POND

Now head south, over the bridge and past the ponds, using the route shown on the map above. It exits Kenwood House’s landscaped grounds through a metal gate and re-enters the wild heathland. 

As the path meanders through the grassy meadows, it passes two natural bathing ponds, one for men, one for women, which are perfect for a dip on a warm day.

The Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond is in a secluded location amongst the trees, perfect for sunbathing.

MEN’S BATHING POND

The Highgate Men’s Bathing Pond is a more open pond, beloved by generations of Londoners. Sunbathing is done on the grassy bank just outside the pond.

In less busy times, both ponds take payments at the gate via contactless or cash (no change). However, in the summer months a booking system is in operation. There are lifeguards on duty and changing rooms but no lockers, so valuables are left at your own risk.

If you want to swim in a less natural environment with more facilities, it’s only a short detour to the kid-friendly lido at Parliament Hill Fields.

PARLIAMENT HILL

Continue following the route on the map above as it winds through the ponds. After the men’s pond, turn right and walk up the hill to Parliament Hill viewpoint.

The highest part of Hampstead Heath, Parliament Hill stands 98 metres high and has good views over the city’s distant skyline.

Legend states it is the site where Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby of the Gunpowder plot planned to watch the destruction of parliament. Today there are a few benches dotted on the hilltop so it’s a great spot for a rest and a picnic.

hampstead heath viewpoint parliament hill
PARLIAMENT HILL

DOWNSHIRE HILL

Our Hampstead Heath walk now descends the other side of Parliament Hill, past the Mixed Bathing Pond (ideal for families) and back into Hampstead village. The route takes you up Downshire Hill but there are a couple of things to see on the way.

2 Willow Road is an innovative and influential Modernist home run by the National Trust. If you are a member or interested in architecture, then be sure to drop in. Just around the corner, the Freemasons Arms has a popular beer garden.

A short detour down Keats Grove and you’ll find Keats House. This was John Keats’ home from 1818 to 1820 where he wrote the ‘Ode to a Nightingale’. This Regency Villa tells his life story and often contains other related exhibitions.

hampstead

HAMPSTEAD HIGH STREET

At the top of Downshire Hill turn right onto Hampstead High Street.

On the High Street there are plenty of places for a meal or a coffee. If you fancy a pint, however, try The Flask on Flask Walk. With a dark wooden bar and red leather seats, it’s an old-school English pub at its finest.

Our Hampstead Heath Circular walk ends back at Hampstead tube station. We hope you enjoyed it.

hampstead heath walk

MORE LONDON SELF-GUIDED WALKING GUIDES

Walking is a great way to see London. Here’s a list of some of our favourite walks in London.

Also, check out all the fantastic day hikes near London and soak up some beautiful country landscapes.

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