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Hampstead, in north west London is about 3 miles due north of Regent’s Park has some of the most expensive housing in the London area with (according to Wikipedia) more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the United Kingdom.
The jewel in its crown is Hampstead Heath consisting of anchient woodland and reserviors now used as swimming ponds.
The Heath also contains the stately home Kenwood to the north and Parliament Hill in the south east corner which has one of London’s best views of the London skyline anywhere in London.
From a cyclists point of view this area is gold dust. The Heath is criss-crossed with paths, the scenery is ever-changing and the constant changes in terrain challenging enough to keep things interesting. But do watch out for the ‘no cycling’ signs where the terrain occasinally gets too rough for riding or where pedestrians have right of way, where you are strongly advised to dismount.
To the west of the Heath is one of London’s most interesting and beautiful parks, ‘Golders Hill Park’. Cycling is not allowed in the park area but you can wheel your bike around the beautiful sculptured hedges and landscaped gardens as you wonder between the animal cages.
Here you can see deer, ostriches, donkeys, maras, ring-tailed lemurs, ring-tailed coatis, white-cheeked turacos and European Eagles. There is also an excellent restuarant where you can just chill al fresco.
But things get even more interesting this time of the year with open air concerts held at both the park’s bandstand and the bandstand at Parliament Hill.
For more information see page 21 of the City of London website: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/news/Documents/Hampstead-heath-events-diary-2013.pdf
A brief sample for the month of May 2013:
Sunday 26 May 2013 at 3 PM: Andalus Trio (Spanish Guitar) Parliament Hill Bandstand
Sunday 26 May 2013 at 3 PM: Merton Concert band (Brass / woodwind) Golders Hill Park Bandstand
Monday 27 May 2013 at 3 PM: Oh La La! (Parisian folk / jazz) Parliament Hill Bandstand
Monday 27 May 2013 at 3 PM: Andalus Trio (Spanish guitar) Golders Hill Park Bandstand
Does life get much better than this? You are lying on the soft grass, surrounded by deer, lemur and the appreciative murmurs of an animated audience surrounding the bandstand where a band appears to be be playing for free. You are sipping Perrier water ordered from the park’s restaurant and your Goodwheel Rentabike bicycle is resting on its kickstand whilst the forest beyond beckons.
You soon get back on the saddle and are once again in ancient woodland, the winding natural paths stretching beyond, your bike’s suspension and padded seat soaking up much of the unevenness as you navigate the gravel paths interlaced with tree roots. The bike maintains its composure as you ride along the uneven terrain.
We at http://www.goodwheelrentabike.co.uk will be happy to offer you advice regarding the best cycle routes on the Heath. We will draw your attention to areas such as the Spaniard’s Inn and the Hampstead Heath extension which are well worth a visit. Hampstead village itself makes for a very scenic and atmospheric ride and is highly recommended.