New Year’s Eve Pub Walk
Hampstead Underground station, London
Guided by David or Mary
|Day||Walk Type||Start Time||End Time|
|31 December 2020|| Special||8 pm||11.59 pm|| Winter|
Short read: Auld Lang Syne in Auld Hampstead & the Fireworks from the Summit
Medium read: This is one of those special experiences. To do it, to have it is to acquire a memory that’s bottled like a perfume. Never fades. Never gets stale. Sets you up forever after. Whenever you want you can uncork the bottle and live the memory all over again.
Why Do It Our Way? AKA Long read:
Six thinking-outside-the-box reasons. Good reasons. Reasons you probably won’t have thought of. They’re personal reasons but I’m confident you’ll take them on board – share them.
1. I object mightily – object in principle – to having to pay £10 to look up at the night sky. If you don’t – well, that’s what makes a horse race.
2. New Year’s Eve in central London – wall to wall humanity – is pickpockets’ heaven. I don’t want any part of that – don’t want to have to worry about that. Up in Hampstead and up on Parliament Hill watching the fireworks we won’t have to worry about that.
3. Contraflow. By that I mean, when the fireworks are over there are going to be a million people down in central London stampeding for the Tube and buses. No one down there is going to be able to “hop on a bus” or “hop on the Tube” because everybody – an ocean of humanity – is going to be surging toward those buses and Tube stations. Carriages are going to be overflowing. Most people are going to be looking at long delays before they can finally fight their way into a station and onto a carriage (or onto a bus). That’s not going to be our problem. We’ll be heading in not trying to get out. Contraflow. No problem at all getting on a Tube or a bus. Trust me, a lot of those people with “ringside” tickets for the central London show are going to be walking home afterward – or walking a good part of the way home. Because they won’t be able to get on a Tube or a bus. That’s their problem and they’re welcome to it. Our contraflow walkers won’t be drawing that short straw.
4. Up top – up on Parliament Hill – we’ll be able to see all the fireworks, right across London. That’s in addition to the big show. The local stuff of course but all the fireworks “sideshows” across London. So a full palette as opposed to just the one big show.
5. The pubs we’re calling in at will be busy but not packed to the rafters; they won’t be turning people away.
6. Mobs. Who needs them?
7. Seventh reason isn’t a thinking-outside-the-box job. It’s that both halves of the evening are wonderful. A New Year’s Eve Pub Walk in Hampstead – it doesn’t get better than that. And the second half – making the short walk to South Hampstead, meeting up there with Mary, spending an hour or so in a very agreeable pub (and if anybody wants I’ll [David] be very happy to do a spot of South Hampstead guiding – Keats’ House, the “loveliest street in London”, etc.) – and then come the appointed time the short stroll up to the top of Parliament Hill and our perch to “take survey of London”, watch the fireworks, etc. – well, it’s the perfect grand finale. Put the two halves together you’ve got a very special, a memorable New Year’s Eve. Memories make us rich.
Long read: See the New Year in – watch the fireworks – up on the roof of London. Makes for a memorable way of marking it. For many years we always did the Along the Thames Pub Walk as the Auld Lang Syne pub walk. In 2016 we changed all that – headed in the opposite direction. Headed up top. It worked a treat. So much so that we’ve done it every year since. We’ll start by doing the Old Hampstead Village Pub Walk. Get to that last pub, chill for a bit and then make our way to Parliament Hill Fields. Ascend that sucker. Get up there and look out across London. Watch the extravaganza. The rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air…
We’ll swaddle the infant 2020 in the richest possible cloths and wisps of history and legend. With plenty left over for a winding sheet for 2019. That nearby mound for example. It’s believed to be a Bronze Age round barrow.
THE NEW YEAR’S EVE PUB WALK – THE PRACTICALS
The New Year’s Eve Pub Walk starts at 8 pm on Thursday, December 31. The meeting point is just outside the exit of Hampstead Tube Station.
1. This one’s happening because I (David) regard it as one of those Do It Before You Die numbers. It’s something I’d always wanted to do. Four years ago I did. With some London Walkers in tow. It was so special – arguably my most memorable New Year’s Eve ever – that we said, “Wow, this is how we’re seeing the New Year in from here on out. The which we’ve done.”
2. And, yes, I’ll be guiding the Hampstead Pub Walk that precedes the summit assault.
3. I’ll end the Hampstead Walk by taking the group – well, anyone who wants to see the New Year in up on the Roof of London – down the hill to a certain special pub in South Hampstead. Mary will be there to meet us. The last pub will be base camp. We’ll go in there for a while. Come the appointed time we’ll make our way up to the summit.
4. It’s an 11-minute walk from the last pub to the summit. It is uphill but it’s an easy walk. It’s walking along a well-lit street. And then, once we set foot on the Heath, up a paved footpath to the summit. It’s easy to do it in the dark – I walked it the last four years of course. And Mary and I always reccy it a few days before New Year’s Eve. And I’ve done it on several previous occasions. They won’t be necessary but Mary and I will have torches.
5. The “judgement call” will be when to set out from base camp – our last pub – for the 11 minute walk up to the summit.
6. We won’t be up there all by our lonesome. There’ll be quite a few locals.
7. My feeling is we don’t leave it until the last possible moment to head up top. I’d rather go up a bit early – set out from base camp at, say, 11.25 pm and get there 20 minutes or so before midnight. In the interests of making sure that we can pitch camp at the best possible vantage point. But that does mean we’ll be up on the summit for about half an hour before the show starts.
8. Which in turn means: DRESS WARMLY.
9. The fireworks normally last 10-15 minutes.
10. As soon as they’re over we’ll walk back down. Get to base camp. The pub told me they’ll be open until 2 am. But our intention is to push on immediately to public transport. The Tube will be running all night. If anyone does want to stay on at the last pub, well, we’ll certainly give good directions to Belsize Park Tube, the closest Underground station. It’s a ten-minute walk from the last pub. And direction-wise it couldn’t be simpler; you just go up Pond Street (past the Royal Free Hospital on your left). At the top of Pond Street – at the traffic lights – you turn left into Rosslyn Hill. Belsize Park Tube is a short walk down Rosslyn Hill. Eezy Peezy even if you’re fairly merry.
11. And that’s the game plan. Except to enjoy the view, store up some great memories, give your partner or friends a good hug or more, wish your neighbours up there a Happy New Year and just generally go in for some bonhomie.
12. If you’ve got any questions give us a bell. Or email us. The London Walks phone number is 020 7624 3978. Email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
13. Why up there and not down in central London? Been there, done that. It’s too crowded, too crazy, not fun. The further away we can get from all that the better as far as I’m concerned.
14. Bears repeating: DRESS WARMLY. We’re going to be up on the roof of London for half an hour or so on Dec. 31-Jan. 1.
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