Discovering 'rich' poetry of Hampstead Heath on guided tours

Oliver Cable is hosting guided poetry tours of Hampstead Heath

Oliver Cable is hosting guided poetry tours of Hampstead Heath - Credit: Robert Bauer

Much has been written about Hampstead Heath – an oasis of scenic calm in a noisy, overstimulating city — and one writer wants to take you on a journey through that literary past.

Oliver Cable, an award-winning poet and author, is hosting guided poetry tours of the Heath.

He said: “It's an overgrown, wild place. There are a lot of places that people aren’t aware of.

“There’s discovering new things, there’s the stillness, there’s the stepping outside of your normal routine. It's a very rich environment for poetry.” 

Oliver’s two-hour tour will combine learning about the work of famous bards, with creative writing and the experience of being in nature.  


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He believes anyone can write poetry, and says that the way it's taught in schools gives the impression that it’s an exclusive art form, when in fact we can all access our inner John Keats. He aims to “draw that creative spark out”.  

Poets and authors who have written about the Heath include George Orwell and William Wordsworth. The tour also features the work of contemporary figures like Ari Banias and Emily Jungmin Yoon. 

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It's the “unexpected things” which keep Oliver coming back for more. Rarities like kingfishers and snakes are among the more commonplace animals like parakeets, squirrels and dogs.  

He describes adventurous walkers climbing inside a hollow tree, as if in a fantasy novel.  

Of his own work, he said: “I like writing that verges towards the knife edge of reality, where dreams and metaphors and reality merge and you’re not really sure what's what anymore.”

Oliver Cable - "I like writing that verges towards the knife edge of reality"

Oliver Cable - "I like writing that verges towards the knife edge of reality" - Credit: Em Fitzgerald

The tour guide has a close emotional attachment to the Heath, much like the one expressed by the romantic poets for their own green getaways.  

He is a nature evangelist, so it seems almost contradictory for him to cite “some amazing views of the city” as one of the area's selling points.  

Cable fondly recalls going for a dip in the ponds and spending time with his father on the Heath. In his work he draws on those memories, as well as overheard conversations and the still, meditativeness of nature.  

The tour is as much about exploring your inner world as it is the picturesque surroundings.  

Poetry walks will be taking place in August, September and October. 

For tickets visit uk.funzing.com/users/424718

Cable’s two-hour tours will combine learning about creative writing and nature  

Cable’s two-hour tours will combine learning about creative writing and nature - Credit: Robert Bauer

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