Sunrise on Parliament Hill – Hampstead Heath, London

Parliament Hill Hampstead Heath

London has a well deserved reputation for its grey, dull and rainy skies and it is not a location that photographers flock to for sunrise and sunset opportunities.

But they do exist – and 98 metre high Parliament Hill, the gateway to north-west London’s Hampstead Heath is one of them.  On a clear day, it provides iconic views of London’s skyline and its strategically placed benches on the vast grassland proves to be a popular escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

So how do you enjoy one of the popular and iconic views of London without the crowds?  

You head there for sunrise on a chilly November morning.

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I recently wrote that Richmond Park is a great antidote to the restless wanderlust and hunger for photography opportunities that plague me when I am grounded from my travels.

Hampstead Heath plays the same role, with the added bonus of being in my neighbourhood.  Instead of the two hour trek to Richmond Park that involves sharing the night bus with party-goers on their way home, I found myself setting up my tripod within twenty minutes of opening my front door.

All that was required was a clear weather forecast, an alarm clock, flexibility to catch a bus when I discovered my train was delayed, and the energy to walk up the hill!

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Although Parliament Hill is known for it’s iconic views of central London, it is a great vantage point for other views of the heath.  The changing light symbolises the transition from dawn to daybreak and presents various parts of the heath like opening a curtain on a stage.

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As I stood with my tripod waiting for the sun to rise, this couple walked into my frame, completely oblivious to me. I didn’t want to ruin their romantic moment, so Instead of asking them to move, I decided to make them my subject. Judging from the conversation I couldn’t help overhearing, the start of my day was the end of their night!

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As the sun rose, I realised I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the crispy, clear start to the day and it seemed the required accessory to being on the heath at that time of day was running shoes, a dog, a camera or a boyfriend/girlfriend!  Like most locations with appealing views, it is popular with couples in a romantic mood – I was actually surprised there weren’t more!

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It is thought that Parliament Hill was originally a point of defence during the English Civil War, named after the troops loyal to Parliament and often referred to as Traitor’s Hill.  The land has also been used to rear livestock for Smithfield Market, as well as a sports ground, a film location and a summer picnic spot for locals.  But it is most famous for it’s iconic views of London.

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And the best part of setting the alarm clock early?  After enjoying the sunrise without the crowds, you will felt energised enough to enjoy a walk through the heath, especially enjoyable amongst the vibrant colours of autumn…and still make it home in time for a rewarding breakfast!

Like most locations with appealing views, it is popular with couples in a romantic mood – I was actually surprised there weren’t more!

 

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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com

Comments

  1. Just gorgeous! Hampstead is one of my favorite places in the world. I always stay there when I visit London. You’re very lucky to call such a place home!

    • I can see why you choose to say there when you visit! It’s a beautiful pocket of London, so much character. I love being on the heath, it is the perfect escape from the city, you forget where you are within minutes!

  2. Thanks Joya! I’m glad this post brought back such great memories for you, it’s such a great part of London!

  3. Love the third photo from the top on your Sunrise at Parliament Hill page and would like to give it to my son for his wedding. Do you have this available for purchase?

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