Saturday 10 August 2013 – Ham and High.
The gorgeous weather from earlier in the week continued into the weekend, with mixed cloudy and clear skies and a nice early autumn cool temperature providing the perfect excuse to go outside and do stuff. We have had Highgate Cemetery on the list of things to do for ages and today was the day we finally went and did it.
We took the train to Gospel Oak station and walked up from there, the further north west we ventured from Gospel Oak the posher the surrounding houses became and we were soon walking through the small village near the cemetery entrance and I was eyeing up places to visit for lunch later on… It was all jolly nice as the English would say.
The entrance to the cemetery is up a surprisingly long hill, and I only mean this by London standards, definitely not Auckland standards ! London is just so damn flat any hill is exciting. I may have found a new place to go and run as I really do miss hills, especially a long slow climb. Yes, it is weird…
Highgate Cemetery has two sides, east and west wing, the west wing is only accessible via a 12 pound guided tour so we decided to skip that and just view the east wing which was 4 pound and had the Karl Marx grave – which was its key attraction I guess. I will do a visit to the west wing another day, maybe when it is covered in snow.
The cemetery was initially started in 1839 and expanded over to the east side in 1860. Unlike the majority of cemeteries that are religious based this was purely a commercial entity – and open to all. It was closed in the 1970s when it was no longer profitable and lay in decay for many for years. It is now run by a trust, hence the fee. It is still open for people to be buried there, but there is not much space so I imagine it is not easy. Though there are some well known people here there are also a lot of ‘new’ gravestones of names I do not recognise at all. Some of the more interesting new residents are;
The wonderful author Douglas Adam, who passed away so young in 2001.
And Malcolm McLaren.
The artist Patrick Caufield had the best modern gravestone I have seen.
As I mentioned earlier one of the big ‘attractions’ of Highgate is the grave site of Karl Marx, who has a large memorial on one of the big paths near the entrance.
This is actually a new plot for Karl as further into the cemetery there is an old grave stone and I do wonder why he was moved ? Perhaps to allow for some of his family to be interred with him ? I really hope it wasn’t because the first site was not a big enough memorial.
In the main the cemetery is very overgrown, some areas have been tidied and others are just buried in a tangled mass of weed, ivy and trees. This is one of the key reasons people come here and I would love to revisit in the snow for another look.
We walked back down the hill, past some of the old houses here and then stopped for lunch in the village. The food was not cheap, but it was very very nice !
We decided to walk go home via Hampstead Heath station so popped into the park near Parliament Hill, I definitely will try for a run here sometime soon, a very nice little hill and I can run on the grass as well ! It has a great view of the city of London and there were a lot of people on the top of the hill taking photos and picnicking, we stopped and I took a couple of photos as well.
We carried on down through a small section of the heath, past the ponds and their background of large homes.
Eventually we were out in Hampstead itself, we walked past St Johns Church, finally heading home after a wine in one of the local pubs.
It was another really good day out 🙂