'Hampstead Heath is Europe's first Urban Quiet Park'

Swimmers enter the Hampstead Heath mixed bathing pond in London as it reopens to the public followin

The Ponds have recovered following the large amount of rain in July - Credit: PA

Now we are in the midst of summer, I’m delighted to see the Heath recovering well after a record number of visitors over the last 18 months.

The warm wet weather, along with carefully devised restoration plans have seen the ground start to recover and important habitats restored. I’m very pleased to see that the Bathing Ponds have also made a recovery following a large amount of rainfall last month which impacted water quality for a short time. The team worked hard to make the facilities safe again and daily water quality testing was arranged to get the Ponds open again as soon as possible.

It’s been wonderful to attend events on the Heath to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the act which protects the Heath, after such a long hiatus due to Covid-19. We’ve enjoyed a kite display, an outdoor exhibition, a community fun day, tennis, bowls and croquet open days and a community picnic. There are more events to come too – with an outdoor cinema coming to the Heath next month which will have a special feature to celebrate the 150th anniversary.

Anne Fairweather says the Health has provided a lifeline for some people during lockdown.

Anne Fairweather is enjoying the 150th anniversary of the Act protecting the Heath - Credit: Archant

I was also delighted to hear that Hampstead Heath had been selected as the first Urban Quiet Park in Europe by Quiet Parks International, a group that has been set up to highlight the importance of a quiet environment for mental health of humans but also for wildlife to complete their life cycle.

Nicholas Allan, from Quiet Parks, said on his visit to the Heath he was able to fully immerse himself within the natural environment, with seclusion from the city. We know that the Heath has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic to escape the stress of busy, city life and this award further highlights this.

Finally, Bob Warnock who has been superintendent of the Heath since 2014, retires in August. In his time at the Heath, Bob has worked on and delivered many important projects, including the final stages of the essential dam safety works-the Ponds Project, publishing the Heath Strategy, celebrating 30 years of the management of the Heath under the City Corporation and marking 150 years since the passing of the Hampstead Heath Act. Richard Gentry who has worked on the Heath for 19 years as part of the senior management team will be stepping in as acting superintendent following Bob’s departure.

I wish Bob a very happy retirement and all the best to Richard in his new role.

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Anne Fairweather is chair of the City of London Corporation's Hampstead Heath Management Committee.