View from the Heath: The healing powers of Hampstead Heath


- Credit: Archant

The Heath enriches our lives.

The new year is a time when we all reflect on our experiences over the past 12 months and allow ourselves to dream and set challenges (dare I mention resolutions?) for the year ahead. The hustle and bustle of our busy capital can provide challenges to us all, and the pace of life can be demanding on both our physical and mental wellbeing.

The Heath has long been a space to find respite from the busy lives we all lead. In my experience a worry rarely survives; a problem rarely doesn’t find a solution; after a brusque stomp across the Heath.

Whether on a clear spring, summer, autumn, or winter’s day, the natural landscape and vistas quite literally give perspective to life’s daily challenges.

The walks up to, and views from, Parliament Hill are well known, and the Kenwood gate offers an equally evocative view of the city on the horizon.

But the beauty of the Heath, which is managed by the City of London Corporation, can be found in its variety, with many lesser visited areas such as Sandy Heath or Athlone House Gardens offering space for quiet reflection.

This wide tapestry of places to visit offers us opportunities to explore, discover and learn, but equally provides a home for many living things. You can watch a kingfisher dart across the Bird Sanctuary pond on a bright summer’s day, discover the canopy of a 300-year oak tree at the Vale of Health, observe the purple haze of heather in flower over on the West Heath or just welcome in the new day and listen to the Heath come alive with bird song at the “dawn chorus”.

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Our new management strategy, which shapes all our work to care for this treasured landscape, clearly recognises how the Heath acts as a “refuge” and a place “where we can connect to nature and feel refreshed”. So, take some time this January to visit the Heath or any of your much-loved, local open spaces. Get some gentle exercise, recharge your physical and emotional batteries and benefit from the Heath’s natural ability to heal and put life into perspective. Happy new year everyone and wishing you health and wellbeing for a fantastic 2019.