Sunday, August 07, 2011

Hampstead Heath Walk (Down at the Old Bull & Bush)

Another “off message” glorious Summer Sunday walk. Gospel Oak is only 29 minutes from Wanstead Park station, Forest Gate on the “Overground”. This is a great train service that also gives you a “heads up” on London via a brick viaduct (aka the “magic train”). Come out of Gospel Oak station, turn left and the Heath is only a couple of minutes away.

Walk 12 “In and around London” Pathfinder. Only 4.5 miles but it is surprisingly hilly in parts. While for most of the walk it was pretty busy other parts were very quiet and peaceful. Started at point F of walk near the “Stone of Free Speech”. Which is either a 17th Century “focus of political and religious debate” or a just a trig point. Google it and you get different accounts.

The views of central London from the top of Parliament Hill is very, very impressive (see main pic & double click).

Carry on past the mixed bathing ponds. First pub on route is the Jack Straw Castle which is supposed to be where this leader of the Peasants Revolt in 1381 met his followers. I gave it a miss since it was almost totally rebuilt in the 1960’s. I had planned to have lunch at the “Old Bull and Bush”. This is the pub made famous by the musical hall song “Down at the Old Bull and Bush” (see Florrie Forde YouTube link). I was slightly horrified to find that my expected London Cockney boozer had been converted into a Gastropub! Despite my misgivings, I was starving and thirsty and actually had a first class freshly cooked and tasty meal. Recommended.

A little further on there was the Spaniard Inn. Which I had a quick look (only) around and this was more like your traditional London former coaching inn. It claimed that Dick Turpin was “probably” born here. 

Soon after I bumped into Carolyn from the Unison London regional office who was off to lunch nearby with her youngest son. We had a quick chat about the next regional health and safety committee.

Next was the 18th Century Kenwood House now owned by the English Heritage. The rain then started falling. Not too heavy but enough to make the rest of the walk a bit soggy if not unpleasant. The kids and the dogs in the Heath didn’t seem to mind the rain and carried on playing while the adults ran for shelter. On the way out you were serenaded by live jazz being played in the bandstand. Back home via the magic train. More pics on my Facebook here.

A good day.

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