Highgate Cemetery Tour and walk to Baker Street Station – 24th April

The Tour

Twenty members of the Poly Ramblers walking Club met at Highgate station and then went via Waterlow Park to the entrance of Highgate Cemetery, one of the oldest burial places in London and one of the most expensive as it costs on average seventy thousand pounds to be buried there.

We had a knowledgeable, enthusiastic guide who informed us of the historical context of the cemetery and which graves were of unusual significance. These included a grave with an Egyptian Pyramid and the grave of a famous Victorian Boxer with a sculpture of his dog. We were told of the exploits of one of the first zookeepers who had a sculpture of a lion on his grave, who very unfortunately lost some of his lions with a tragic outcome for those who had the misfortune to get in their way.

We were given a fascinating tour of the catacombs in which a visitor had recently accidentally got locked in. One of the most poignant parts of the cemetery was a mass grave of young girls who had arrived in London full of hope for a job in domestic service many of whom became ‘fallen women’. 

We finished the visit in the West Cemetery at the magnificent grave of Karl Marx. We had lunch in Waterlow Park before starting our afternoon walk to Regent’s Park via Hampstead Ponds and Primrose Hill. 


Photos by Hilary, Ida and Clare

The Walk

This was a 6 mile afternoon walk following the morning visit to the Cemetery. I suddenly received an email the morning before saying that our leader had been taken ill and was not able to lead. I sent an emergency reply, 11 words, saying I could lead it.

So I met some polyramblers in Waterlow Park having a picnic, others had gone into Lauderdale House cafe. Eventually we all set off from the Cemetery gates about 2pm being about twelve in all. The route took us down Swain’s Lane into the Dartmouth Park area, entering Parliament Hill fields on its east side. Once into this opening we turned northwards into Hampstead Heath passing the Highgate Ponds, then westward into the centre of Hampstead Heath beside a sports ground. We then proceeded southward rising up to the summit of Parliament Hill. From there we descended to Hampstead Ponds, and then into South End Road, coming across Hampstead Heath overground station. At this point half the group decided to leave, having completed about 2.5 miles. So then there were four!

We continued through alleys beside the Royal Free Hospital, into Haverstock Hill, where we passed Belsize Park tube, losing one more. It was busy rush-hour time with children and school runs abundant. We took a right turn into England’s Lane, left into Primrose Hill Road, across Adelaide Road, into the space of Primrose Hill itself where we climbed to the summit (reminding me of our older member Shirley who used to get us up here annually at night to see in the New Year!). We then continued south, crossed Prince Albert Road and entered Regent’s Park, walking along the west side beside the boating lake. Exiting through Clarence Gate we entered Baker Street, whose tube station ended the walk for the four of us.


Photos by Ida, Hilary, Geoffrey and Clare