Romantic Victorian gothic getaway
Opened in 1839 and designed by Stephen Geary, Highgate Cemetery is usually recalled by visitors as one of their more treasured London memories. Set on a slope with winding paths leading to overgrown tombs and mausoleums and welcome distractions such as Egyptian Avenue and Gothic Catacomb, the lush landamrk is overrun with plants, trees, memorials and wildlife to tranquil and beautiful effect. Such romantic aspects describe the West Cemetery, where most of the more noted novelists, artists, composers, actors, philosophers and scientists are interred. A few seconds across the road in the beautiful but slightly less aesthetically pleasing East Cemetery you’ll find Karl Marx’s tomb ― a huge and hugely popular attraction ― and George Eliot's resting place, plus cultured cockney, musician, impresario and punk-rock catalyst Malcolm McLaren (1946—2010) and others including George Michael's mum. Access to the West Cemetery is tour-only, so try to book ahead for one of the weekday 2pm slots. Weekends are less of a problem, with tours on the half-hour. Tube station: Archway, then an eight-minute walk up the hill. Local points of interest include Highgate Village (a quaint coveted lifestyle destination) and, slightly further afield, Hampstead Heath, including Kenwood House [see entry].