Over the winter, a project to improve the accessibility at Hampstead Heath’s swimming ponds has been nearing completion.

Last year the City of London Corporation (CoLC), which manages the Heath as a charity, invested more than £900,000 to improve disabled access to the ponds.

The aim of the project is to ensure they are more easily and safely accessed by all users, provide new changing facilities and enhance the safety and welfare facilities.

Now, with spring around the corner, attention is beginning to turn to post-construction landscaping and the restoration of areas that have been impacted during the works.

Our conservation charity, Heath Hands, has been tasked with the landscaping at the Mixed and Men’s Ponds.

We are working closely with the Heath’s Swim Team and each pond’s swimming associations on the plans and we hope to get local volunteers involved with the work and helping with ongoing maintenance.

Ham & High: Karin Oleinikova from Heath Hands says the charity is fundraising for plants to landscape the Mixed and Men's Ponds on Hampstead HeathKarin Oleinikova from Heath Hands says the charity is fundraising for plants to landscape the Mixed and Men's Ponds on Hampstead Heath (Image: Heath Hands)

We aim to green up the facilities and restore any damage. Importantly, we want to boost biodiversity and create more nature-friendly areas.

Buildings, such as the new disabled changing rooms at the Men’s Pond, will be screened with planters.

New fences at the Mixed Pond will have climbers and shrubs planted to screen them, and trees planted to restore hedgerows.  All the plants will help attract wildlife, particularly pollinators, and biodiversity around the facilities will be improved.

We also want this project to bring enjoyment to the users and enhance the experience of the ponds’ swimmers.

We are currently fundraising to help start the landscaping works at the Mixed and Men’s Ponds.

To find out more about the work of Heath Hands, or to make a donation to the Ponds Landscaping Project, please visit heath-hands.org.uk.

The money will help us buy plants and also materials to build the planters. If anyone would like to support or donate to the project, please get in touch.

Heath Hands works in partnership with CoLC to deliver conservation, community, learning and wellbeing programmes across Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood, Keats House and with English Heritage at the Kenwood Estate.

Karin Oleinikova is programme manager at Heath Hands.