Hampstead Heath is famous and well loved for many things; its outstanding natural beauty, the swimming ponds, shagging and tramps being gifted million pound plots. It’s also the only place in London that men can legally sunbathe naked, in a special enclosure by the Men’s Pond.
The Camden Gazette reports how the enclosure is currently split in two parts, almost two thirds is for ‘clothed’ men and the smaller section for naked men. Years ago, the entire patch was for the clotheless but a complaint from a local barrister in the early 90s, who didn’t wish to have to see his brethren in their birthday suits when using the Heath, led to the partitioning. Ironically, this did nothing to obscure the naked bodies using it, but squished them all together so on hot days it’s a mass of naked male flesh.
Naturist and long term user of the nude area, Michael Peacock, has started a petition to reverse this partitioning and expand the area available for nudity. Already he has the signatures of around 600 other men and the petition is now online seeking wider support.
What we can’t understand is that, surely, ‘clothed’ men have their pick of 800 acres of heathland to sunbathe in. Why do they need an enclosure at all? And, striking some balance here, what about an area for naturist women who want to “let it all hang out”?