Hampstead Heath is a veritable cornucopia of fun things to do with a toddler. But three words of warning:
a) It’s in North London
b) Getting there involves either some obscure buses or a lot of walking. And you need to walk once you get there
c) It’s very big. If you don’t know where you’re going, you may never come out.
Point a) might not bother everyone, especially people living in North London. I have a court injunction forbidding me from entering Kentish Town without the express permission of a K-ish Towner so I was taking a big risk in going there. But it was the boy’s birthday and it meant we could get a choo-choo there from Elephant & Castle, so you can’t argue.
Point c) will only bother those who, like me, are morbidly afraid of the countryside.
Anyhoo, good stuff to do – the ominously named “Toddler Enclosure”, which has wooden animals and a nice slide. An italian-type cafe next door. A big hike up to Kite Hill (don’t let your toddler attempt to scooter up this hill when he’s only just got a scooter that morning. We make these mistakes so that you don’t have to), flying your toddler’s new kite on Kite Hill (don’t attempt this on a perfectly wind-free day. We make these mistakes so that you don’t have to)…and a charge down the hill with buggy in tow, toddler running off in front and husband floundering somewhere behind with the kite tangled around his head (probably).
Luckily, once the Heath levelled out a bit, there were more treats to be had. It was another freakishly hot day (hence no wind), so we were glad to see an almost blindingly blue paddling pool. We didn’t have swimming stuff or a towel for any of us but Roo went in with his nappy (shhh…this was clearly against The Rules…don’t tell). It was sensational. I love a paddling pool on the most mediocrely warm day and am so glad that I now have a child to get me through the hallowed gates. Sadly, we had an appointment to get to (at vision clinic….what kind of parents do this to a little boy on his birthday?!) so the exciting looking playground had to be swiftly passed by. But we will be back.
VERDICT: Yes, awesome. I will overlook the North Londonness of it all for the sake of the wonders therein. As for the rest of the Heath that wasn’t in the tiny south-east corner that we covered….who knows?!