Hiking Highgate

I sometimes find it a little strange that graveyards are also tourist attractions. A place where we bury our dead is also, weirdly, a rather pleasant place to walk on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I guess death is very much a part of life, so why the hell not? Things can turn sinister when the crepuscular hour arrives, however. As the gloaming commences, these places do seem somewhat reminiscent of a Michael Jackson video. (I’m looking at you, Thriller).

One such location is in Highgate, a wee village in the north of London; a terrific place to visit for an organic lunch or pie and a pint at a local pub. It also has magnificent cemeteries: Highgate Cemetery is split into two, east and west. The west is only accessed through private tours which run every day (£12), while the east is easily accessible and requires no pre-booking (£4).

Highgate Cemetery opened way back in 1839, and one of the main attractions (?) is the fact that Karl Marx is buried here; a formidable gravestone announces his place in the green. There are many more famous folk interred here, such as Anthony Shaffer, Patrick Caulfield, and Douglas Adams. But the best way to experience the cemetery is to simply meander among the stones. Veer off the main path and along the thin dirt tracks that take you through the overgrowth. Here you can enjoy the quiet and solitude, and sometimes a wee fox may appear to startle you from your contemplation, before you head on back to the pub.

Anton plans for elaborate burial when death one day knocks at his door; his final resting place will be within the grounds of his favourite local watering hole. He asks that memorial pies be sent to his family in lieu of flowers.

As the gloaming commences, these places do seem somewhat reminiscent of a Michael Jackson video.