London Visit: If you fancy an inexpensive day out, head to Hampstead Heath Golders Hill Park. This is such a fantastic green space situated near Golders Green and the Hampstead Heath Extension. It’s not an obvious choice, but once you’ve visited, you’ll want to go back time and time again. If you’re searching for free things to do in London, things to do in Hampstead or London parks to visit, then make sure you check out Golders Hill Park and the nearby Hill Garden and pretty Pergola.
Pergola Upper Level and Views
Golders Hill Park Highlights
This park was opened up to the public in 1989 and is part of Hampstead Heath. It has so many attractions and combined with the nearby Pergola, that it will keep you occupied for an entire day. This, of course, includes a lie down on the grass and a snooze! What I love about this park is that it’s exceptionally beautiful. The lawns are well-manicured and springy, just like a mattress. There are so many beautiful plants and flowers to admire, and with this comes a lot of wildlife, from squirrels to birds, butterflies and bees. They actually won the London in Bloom 2014 award for Large Park, which they were awarded gold and category winner, which is a testament to just how fantastic it is.
The free zoo is small but a great addition to the park and perfect for the kids to see a few animals. You’ll find ring-tailed lemurs, European eagles, owls, laughing kookaburras, white-faced whistling ducks, donkeys and more. All of these animals are actually available to adopt, which is a lovely thing to do. There’s also an aviary where you can do a bit of bird spotting. Close by is a deer enclosure where you’ll see plenty of deer lying around.
If you’re a fan of squirrels, then wander through the stumpery, which is like a mini woodland featuring lots of tree stumps, ferns and moss. The tree stumps are quite sculptural and natural works of art. Apparently, the Victorians were keen on these types of gardens as a way to encourage wildlife. The squirrels are so friendly that they come right up to you, which makes for a great photo opportunity. You might also spot hedgehogs and plenty of birds.
Pop into the butterfly house, where you can see some beautiful specimens. It’s like a greenhouse, so it is a bit warm inside, and on a hot day, it is a little uncomfortable. Make sure you don’t step on any butterflies, so keep your eyes peeled! This is usually open from 2 pm until 4 pm. Besides the butterfly house is a beautiful walled garden with benches where you’ll get to see amazing sustainable planting and floral displays. This is a good place to sit down for a while and admire the surroundings.
The water garden is another idyllic place to sit and ponder. You can hear water bubbling away in the background, and with plenty of seats, you can rest for a while.
If you spot some large metal structures in the shape of dinosaurs, it isn’t a playground for kids. These are called ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ and were made by the artists Jake and Dinos Chapman.
Jake and Dinos Chapman Metal Sculptures
If you fancy a bite to eat, there is a café in the park. You can order breakfast in the morning and a basic lunch along the lines of a filled baguette, soup, burger with fries or a pasta dish. They had a good selection of cakes and serve coffee, tea and soft drinks. You can eat inside or on the terrace. Around the side is a hatch serving Italian ice creams and sorbets with some delicious flavours. The toilets are located near the café.
Near Golders Hill Park
Connected to the park are the Hill Garden and Pergola. To reach the Pergola, you walk through the Hill Garden, which surrounds a formal pond. This is a great place to sit and contemplate on one of the benches. You can hire out space for a wedding or civil partnership, which is good to know.
The Pergola overlooks the West Heath and is absolutely stunning and something that you must see. It was built in the early 1900s on land purchased by Lord Leverhulme. Thomas Mawson was tasked with the actual construction in 1905.
Pergola Ground Level
The Gardens and Pergola had several owners and, at one stage, were quite neglected. They are now the responsibility of the City of London Corporation and have been declared a Grade II Listed Building.
Pergola from Woodland
On the upper level and raised walkways, you have fantastic views over the West Heath, which really are breathtaking. This structure gives you a glimpse into the Edwardian extravaganza. It was built essentially for Lord Leverhulme to entertain and host garden parties. The Pergola is surrounded by a mini woodland so you really feel as though you are in the countryside as you stroll around. Also close by is the Heath Extension and Hampstead Heath if you fancy more rugged walking experiences. Kenwood House is also worth exploring, and they have a delightful eatery serving delicious cakes which you can eat on the terrace.
Travel to Golders Hill Park
The address is North End Way, London NW3 7HE. It’s generally open from 7.30 am until dusk. The earliest closing time is in winter at 4.30 pm. Check online for full information about Golders Hill Park. The nearest underground station is Golders Green which is served by the Northern line. Golders Green has plenty of restaurants if you want to eat somewhere other than the park. Happy exploring my lovelies.
If you want to explore the area, you may be interested in these articles:
Hampstead London NW3 Area Guide
Ten Things To Do In Hampstead London NW3
Keats House Hampstead London NW3
Freud Museum Hampstead London NW3
Kenwood House Hampstead London NW3
Fenton House And Garden Hampstead London NW3
Burgh House Hampstead London NW3
Lunch At Buttery Café Burgh House Hampstead London NW3
Lunch At Oak And Poppy Hampstead London NW3
Breakfast At Ginger And White Hampstead London NW3
Breakfast At Heath Street Bakehouse Hampstead London NW3
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks: Richie, for choosing this place to visit and for driving us there and back. Thanks to Homeboy for coming with us.