Category Archives: Outdoors

Geocaching – Reflections of Neal’s Yard

Geocaching is the very geeky, but thanks to smartphones pretty accessible, game of finding small containers by their GPS coordinates. The site is a big repository of these caches and this one in London is typical. Follow the coordinates and clues to the cache and then write in the book and maybe leave something small to let others know you’ve found it. I promise it’s more fun than it sounds and a nice way to find hidden parts of new places when you’re travelling.

Link: Geocaching – Reflections of Neal’s Yard

Highgate Cemetery

There are two cemeteries in Highgate, the East one with Karl Marx’s enormous grave, and the older West one which is only available to visit on a guided tour. Both are beautiful and tranquil, you can visit the East one during their standard opening hours for a small admittance fee. They both have lots of hidden curiosities beyond the headline names. The enormous mausoleum of Julius Beer, a previous owner of The Observer, sets the tone with it’s statue of an angel comforting a young girl. There are many more angels to find in the cemetery.

Link: Highgate Cemetery

Hampstead Ponds

There are three ponds on Hampstead Heath, the mixed pond and, near the Highgate side, the Men’s and Women’s ponds. They’re unfiltered and can be fairly murky and cold but are perfect for a refreshing lunchtime swim on a sunny day. The mixed pond is a busy riot on weekends while the men’s pond is an interesting mix of fitness fanatics, outdoor swimming enthusiasts, gay men and strict Muslim and Jewish men who go there for the single sex bathing. Everyone gets along quite well, all watched over by the slightly bored lifeguard.

There’s a ticket machine by the ponds with a suggested £2 payment but many people don’t give anything as historically the ponds have been free. The Corporation of London (which gained control of the ponds when the GLC was disbanded) have tried to close them down. After local pressure they instead set up the ticket machines to help pay for the lifeguards and maintenance.

Link: Hampstead Ponds

Dodgson Wood Campsite

Beautiful isolated campsite on the quiet eastern side of Consiton Water in the Lake District. You have to hire the whole site but it can accommodate up to 40 people. It doesn’t have much in the way of facilities (no showers or drinking water) but if you’re after a secluded active weekend it’s hard to beat. It’s also a great place to walk into Grizedale Forest from or explore the lake where you can visit Peel Island, the inspiration behind Wild Cat Island from Swallows & Amazons.

Link: Dodgson Wood Campsite