Take a Break in North London’s Suburbs
Settle into the Stunning Suburbs
Outside of the center of the city, North London offers leafy suburbs which presents a quieter alternative for the local Londoner.
Home to North London’s affluent Muswell Hill dog walkers and dedicated runners, this large green space is the iconic home to the BBC’s first broadcasts and boasts a deer park, beer garden, boating lake and even an ice rink. Dubbed ‘Ally Pally’ by locals, here you can find a range of events, such as themed parties on ice, music concerts, and the annual Bonfire Night firework display.
Eating at Ally Pally
Many local residents take advantage of the Farmer’s Market on Sundays, which can be found by Muswell Hill’s Hornsey Gate. Here, the neighborhood gathers to buy local produce, including meat, vegetables and many international food stalls, including Moroccan, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Alternatively, the ‘Bar and Kitchen’ is a favorite of many North Londoners and is an often crowded meeting place for friends and families living in the area. Ally Pally is also a hotspot in the winter, when many flock to the hilly park with toboggans. The area is extremely family friendly in general, due to the very good state schools located there.
Pastimes for Professionals
If you’re looking to burn off some calories following a trip to the market, then the Laboratory Spa and Health Club is a favorite, particularly among young professionals. Another popular local haunt is the attractive Maid of Muswell pub, a ten minute walk from Ally Pally, with its much loved weekly quiz every Tuesday evening. The nearest transport to the park is Alexandra Palace Rail or Wood Green tube station. So grab a picnic and head to Ally Pally to gaze over the City, Canary Wharf and the Home Counties, or enjoy ‘The People’s Palace’ and all it has to offer.
Historic home to England’s literary heroes Charles Dickens, Lord Byron, and George Orwell amongst many others, this small village in the heart of North London has many a reason to be held in high regard. Hampstead Village is the epitome of every Richard Curtis film, portraying North London to be a dreamy, quiet cluster of quaint urban villages and quintessential English white townhouses. Wander past Hampstead’s endless rustic coffee shops and art galleries and onto Hampstead Heath to enjoy the stunning view across the city and eventually reach the Hampstead Ponds.
Costing a mere 2 GBP entry, it’s no wonder that the ponds have become many a North Londoner’s personal refuge, with a mixed gender pond in the center of Hampstead Heath, and separate gender ponds on the eastern side of the park, off Millford Lane. They are buzzing with sunbathing Londoners throughout the summer and are also frequented by dedicated swimmers throughout the winter, serving as a place for escape and healing from the hectic city life. The ladies’ ponds are also frequented by celebrities wanting peace and quiet, with visitors including North Londoners Kate Moss, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter.
The beautiful Kenwood House is located on the edge of the Heath. Director Richard Curtis used this Georgian villa and its vast grounds for his iconic film Notting Hill, so, with free entrance to the grounds, where better to head for a truly romantic afternoon walk? The Brew House Café next door to the house is also open from 9:00 daily. There you can find a delicious breakfast or classic English lunch of sandwiches, soups and cakes, amongst other options at a very reasonable price. Kenwood House is within reach of Highgate, Archway, Golders Green and Hampstead Heath tube stations.
Highgate Cemetery (Karl Marx's Resting Place)
The highly romantic Highgate Cemetery, home to the grave of Karl Marx, is an unmissable part of town. Non-members pay a worthwhile 4 GBP to wander through eerie avenues filled with stone angels throttled by ivy, and tombs and gravestones belonging to anyone from poets such as Christina Rossetti, to painters such as Henry Moore. Regardless of its famous inhabitants, the cemetery is worth a visit for the serenity it brings. It was founded in 1839 to allow Londoners to escape the loud and dirty city, and even today, leaving the hectic Archway tube station, you will find yourself in this gothic, silent corner of town within five minutes. For the most atmospheric experience, head to the cemetery on any damp, grey London day.
Catherine Bishop studies German at the University of Exeter. Originally from North London, Catherine worked for First Call Media, where she gained an interest in journalism. Following her studies at the Royal Academy of Music, Catherine has written articles for the British educational magazine Music Teacher. She now works at InterNations as a member of the Content & Communications Team. In the future, she will move to Hannover, where she will work at an educational publishing house.