Sneaking into Hampstead Heath bathing ponds ‘a constant problem’ as Heath bosses urge visitors to be responsible

The view from Parliament Hill, where concerns of social distancing have been raised. Picture: Nigel

The view from Parliament Hill, where concerns of social distancing have been raised. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Swimmers sneaking into the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds has become a “constant problem” according to Heath bosses – who have again warned people visiting over the weekend to respect social distancing rules.

The City of London Corporation (CoLC) which manages the Heath said that although most visitors observed the rules, the Heath and other green spaces it manages have seen “reports of some large group gatherings, and in once instance, a group of over 100 people socialising together”.

The CoLC is people continuing to try to use closed facilities – such as the Men’s, Ladies’ and Mixed Ponds - “puts unnecessary pressure upon staff who manage open spaces and emergency services”.

Oliver Sells QC, who chairs the CoLC’s open spaces committee, said: “We are keen for people to continue using and enjoying our open spaces, but we urge everyone to do this responsibly.”

After the Bank Holiday saw huge amounts of litter reported, the CoLC has also urged visitors to take rubbish home with them. The CoLC removed bins as its staff were unable to collect them, but is now in the process of “gradually putting the bins back”.

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On Monday June 1, one local woman is planning on taking the Heath’s litter issue into her own hands.

Nikki Newman is holding a litter pick between 7 and 9am in a bid to encourage people to keep the Heath tidy.

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She said her ‘Get a Grip’ campaign was designed to make sure the “lessons of lockdown” relating to nature’s impact on our mental health do not go to waste.

To take part, head to the Parliament Hill Cafe for 7am and bring your own gloves and hand sanitiser.

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