Strolling Hampstead Heath
There’s an excellent exhibition currently on display at the Morgan Library in New York on the Romantic Movement’s influence on landscape design. One of the mottos of the movement came from a line in a 1731 Alexander Pope poem, “Consult the genius of the place.” Translation: Preserve the wild, unadulterated beauty of the grounds and don’t overmanicure. I though about that line while walking last week in London’s Hampstead Heath with my family, friend Claire, and her adorable daughter, Evie. The rolling hillside is rich with old growth forest, shaded trails, long stretches of lawn, and streams, where we wound up feeding ducks and coots. After a week of fighting crowds at the National Gallery, Covent Garden, and the Tower of London, it was wonderful to spend the afternoon at arguably London’s best attraction, one of its many exquisite parks. On a weekday, Hampstead Heath was relatively quiet and off the beaten track enough to savor the serenity with locals. Only a few miles north of the city hubbub, it’s the perfect oasis.