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Well loved by locals but not as well known to visitors is the beautiful and huge Hampstead Heath (790 acres). It is unlike other London parks in that it is not a formal garden. This is a wilder style park with shrubbery, heath land, ponds (including swimming ponds) and the occasional more formal lawn. This is the perfect place for a picnic and you can often find a secluded spot and feel like you are out in the middle of the countryside. Climbing up Parliament Hill on the Heath gives a spectacular view across London and is a perfect place to fly a kite. This area of the heath also has an outdoor lido, an athletics running track and tennis courts. There is a £2 charge to swim in the bathing ponds or the Parliament Hill Lido. open from 7am to 6.30pm. You can also see the lovely Kenwood House on the Heath from the outside (the inside is under renovation until 2013) and the cafe there remains open if you need a cake and coffee pick-me-up. Website:www.cityoflondon.gov.uk and search for Hampstead Heath.
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