diamond geezer

 Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Primrose Hill (to celebrate Primrose Day)

As a sucker for a good view, here's one I'd somehow managed never to enjoy before. Just a couple of miles north of Oxford Circus, Primrose Hill rises up above Regents Park to afford superb views over the metropolis. Fifty acres of green grassy hillock, protected and unspoilt, reaching what for London is an impressive 206 feet above sea level. The area is named after the primroses that used to flourish on the hill back in the 17th century, but alas seem to be sadly absent today. Around the hill is one of those posh neighbourhoods inhabited by rich executives and dull celebrities, complete with expensive arty shops that sell nothing useful, but it's easy to see why people pay so much to live here.

I climbed to the summit of Primrose Hill from the perimeter of London Zoo. I'd hate you to think it's a gruelling climb, but it's certainly rather longer and steeper than I'm used to in central London. The grassy slopes are criss-crossed with paths and, at weekends, smothered with people. Some sit and picnic, some sit and cuddle, some run about and kick footballs, some are being walked by their dogs, but most are here to enjoy the view. People are drawn magnetically to the summit to stand in groups, face south and point out well-known landmarks on the horizon. There's the City to the left, and the West End to the right, and the London Zoo aviary crouching in the foreground like a giant spider. You can identify the distant buildings using an old metal plaque, on which a small circle has been scratched (to the right of the "London Telecom Tower") to represent the 'new' London Eye. A perfect viewpoint on a sunny day, but I'd recommend going midweek if you can.
by bus: 274

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