I have been lucky in that I have lived over half my adult life within the proverbial stone’s throw of Hampstead Heath. I go walking there, most days, and I know ‘my’ part like the back of my hand; though it must be said, the Heath is so large that that I have rarely penetrated to some of the more distant parts.
The ponds are one of the glories of Hampstead Heath. They were created for a number of reasons, but the bigger ones were originally dug out as reservoirs for London’s water supply in the 17th and 18th centuries. There are over 30 ponds on the Heath, but there are six major ones, in two different valleys, one of them in the valley of the River Fleet, here a very small stream.
Three of them are used for bathing, one mixed, one for the ladies, and one for the men. Here we see the mixed bathing pond, on an idyllic summers day, with a couple of swimmers on the swimming stages at the far end.