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Hampstead Heath walk, taking in Hampstead Park, Parliament Hill, The Spaniards Inn, Hampstead north London, England March 2005
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Hampstead walk: A walk around Hampstead Park, north London
Report by urban75 editor, March 2005

Part two of our Spring walk around Hampstead Heath, London

Hampstead Heath, north London, England
Walking through Hampstead Heath

Mindful of the pub ahead, the intrepid walkers headed north through the heath.

By this time, we'd lost a few of our fellow strollers who had been irresistibly tempted by another pub a mile back.

Funfair, Hampstead Heath, north London, England
Funfair, Hampstead Heath

Each Bank holiday the Heath hosts a large funfair. Business didn't seem too brisk when we walked past.

Jack Straw's Castle, North End Way, north London, England
Jack Straw's Castle, by Hampstead Heath

Tragically, this Grade II listed building in North End Way closed to the public last year after Camden Council's planning committee voted by six votes to five to convert the ground floor into a private health club.

The much-admired 1960s Gothic style building replaced the previous historic pub on the site, where highwayman Dick Turpin, poets Keats and Shelley and novelist Charles Dickens had all stayed. The pub was flattened during World War II.

The pub was named after Wat Tylerís second-in-command in the Peasantís Revolt of 1381, who is believed to have lived on the site.


The Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, Hampstead  north London, England
The Spaniards Inn

This charming pub built by a former toll-house is rich in history, spawning a multitude of tales of varying credibility.

Some believe the name reflects the fact that it was built as a residence for the Spanish ambassador to the court of James I.

Others suggest that it was turned into an inn by two Spaniards in the 18th century, who fought a duel over a woman who then spurned them both.

During the Gordon Riots of 1780, anti-Catholic mobsters stopped off at the Spaniards Inn in Hampstead en route to Kenwood House, which they intended to loot, plunder and burn to the ground.

The publican plied the rioters with so much free beer that they were in no fit state to stand up, let alone destroy Kenwood House. When the army arrived the rioters were disarmed with little effort.

The pub also claims to be the birthplace of Dick Turpin, who was certainly active in the area during the early 18th century - he even had a secret tunnel built connecting two Highgate pubs so he could escape his pursuers.

Legend has it that Turpin stabled his horse, Black Bess, in the toll house across the road.

The pub can also claim to be the inspiration for one of Keats most famous odes: when John Keats heard a nightingale singing in the inn's back garden, he whipped out his quill and wrote Ode to a Nightingale.


Drinking at The Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, Hampstead  north London, England
Drinking at The Spaniards Inn

The pub features a large trellised back garden, with fairy lights decorating a large central tree. The food was great, as was the ale!

Drinking at The Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, Hampstead  north London, England
More drinking at The Spaniards Inn

We stayed for a lovely couple of pints before heading back to downtown Brixton.


The Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, Hampstead,  north London, England
The Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, Hampstead, north London, England

Exterior view of the pub - note the bottleneck between the pub and the old toll gate (to the far left).


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