Gay-friendly outdoor swimming on Hampstead Heath
As close as London gets to a gay beach, the men's pond on Hampstead Heath has been a fixture of north London since the 19th century, and its gay appeal is palpable. The sprawling Heath is special among London green spaces and features several ponds, including one for just women. But it's the men's pond that not only draws in die-hards in great numbers but also occasionally courts controversy because of the secluded area where men of all ages, mostly gay, tend to strip and relax, with the occasional more or less discrete hard on. A grassy knoll adjacent to this zone is also popular as a hanging out/cruising ground for gay men, whether there for swimming or not. Most 'notoriously' gay of all is the West Heath — a separate area known mostly for its after-dark activities and pull for the likes of George Michael [see Hampstead Heath entry in BARS section]. The men's pond can be reached by tube (Hampstead, then a 20-minute walk), by Overground (Hampstead Heath, then a ten-minute walk) or by bus or car via adjacent Millfield Lane.
Open daily 7am until about dusk