A picture perfect spot, Hampstead Heath is 790 acres of calm. It's the countryside in London. A pocket of quiet, its charm lies in its displacement from the city. Each weekend families flock to the Heath to walk their dogs, stretch their legs and generally just get away. What's particularly magic about this place is its power to transport you from the hum of central London to the picturesque landscape of the British countryside. Complete with an expanse of green and a number of fresh water swimming ponds, the Heath can also boast some really great watering holes.
Rural Britain is famed for its great pubs and seeing as Hampstead Heath is somewhat of a rural spot in London, it's surrounded by great drinking spots. Famed for their attention to detail, excellent customer service and above all, their 'ye olde country pub' atmosphere, the following pubs are three of the best pubs in North London - and they're all located around the Heath.
The Southampton Arms
139 Highgate Road NW5 1LE
Serving up the best pork pies this side of London along with a selection of locally brewed ales (the Camden Town Pale Ale is particularly popular), The Southampton Arms has fast become a must-visit.
Quaint and sufficiently old fashioned, this little pub on Highgate Road has quite a following. Cross the threshold and step back in time. A piano occupies one corner, available to anyone who may want to perform at any given moment and period portraits line the walls. Nostalgia for a traditional English tap room means that their cider, ale and meat are always sourced from within the UK, and that your debit cards are of no use here.
The Bull & Last 168 Highgate Road, London NW5 1QS T: 020 726 73641
Famous for its phenomenal offerings in the way of food, The Bull & Last is the ultimate spot to head to after your appetite building country ramble. Having earned sparkling reviews for its culinary delights from even the toughest critics (Giles Coren is a local), this gastropub continues to wow its diners. Serving up posh English pub grub, The Bull & Last has won diners over with its attention to the finer details. Chips are cooked three times for extra texture and even the scotch eggs are home made.
Located moments away from Hampstead Heath in leafy Dartmouth Park, this is a perfect place to relax at the weekend. Serving up delicious food in a quiet North London locale, The Bull & Last has a real feel of the tranquil British countryside.
The Spaniards Inn Spaniards Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 7JJ T: 020 8731 8406
A local for Hampstead Heath devotees since the 16th century, The Spaniards Inn is London's oldest pub. Located on the outskirts of the Heath in Hampstead, this pub is an institution. Not only is the Spaniards referenced in the novels of Charles Dickens, it's also the reported birth place of legendary highway man Dick Turpin. The Spaniards was once the official boundary stone for the Bishop of London's estate and is now a listed building. Situated far from the hustle and bustle of London life, it's no surprise that John Keats is rumoured to have written Ode to a Nightingale here.
Cosy up by a fire and play a board game in one of the pub's many nooks and crannies or sip on a cider in the lush garden; The Spaniards is as peaceful and welcoming as ever.