'We enter autumn in Hampstead Heath's anniversary year'

Hampstead Heath has inspired countless poets over the centuries

Trees start to change colour as autumn arrives on the Heath - Credit: André Langlois

As we say farewell to summer and the temperatures start to drop, we can look forward to a beautiful autumn on Hampstead Heath as the air becomes crisp and the leaves begin to change colour.

Our 150th anniversary celebrations have continued into the late summer with a screening of the iconic film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on the novel by John Le Carré, at the Heath’s first outdoor film festival. The Q&A before the screening between Melvyn Bragg and Le Carré’s son, Nick Harkaway, organised in partnership with the Heath & Hampstead Society, was an excellent way to celebrate the Heath which features in this iconic book and film.

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

Anne Fairweather says that autumn is still busy for the Heath - Credit: Archant

I was also delighted to take part in the 2021 Duathlon – a race around the Heath broken up with a swim in each of the Heath’s wonderful swimming spots and finishing at the athletics track. This was a great return of this popular annual event after a one year break due to the pandemic. We’ve also had a welcome return to concerts on the bandstand including a beautiful performance by John Etheridge and Vimala Rowe and the first performance by Cosmo Sheldrake on the Heath. This concert, called Hampstead Heath’s Natural Aspect was organized in partnership with the Heath & Hampstead Society. We have some more events planned for winter 2021/22 and will provide more details soon.

Autumn is a busy time for our ranger and conservation team who will be working hard to restore ground which has become compacted due to the high footfall of a busy summer. Autumn is also a good time to plant trees, and plan is in place to plant around 20 trees by the main path at Parliament Hill. A mix of oak, hornbeam, field maple and small leafed lime trees will be planted to create a small woodland copse.

And finally, I highly recommend the Keats200 outdoor exhibition which is on display at the South End Green entrance to the Heath until October 3. This fascinating exhibition tells the story of Keats’s life, death and legacy and is part of the bicentenary celebrations which culminate this year.


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I hope you are able to visit the Heath this autumn and enjoy, in Keats’s immortal words, the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness".

Anne Fairweather is chair of  the Hampstead Heath management committee.

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