Sunday 2nd October 2011
5.6 miles including station links
Toilets: Finsbury Park; Clissold Park; numerous pubs in Stoke Newington.
I’m really getting into the Capital Ring. It’s turning out to be far more interesting than I ever could have imagined. In theory I’d have liked to do the whole thing in order, but the other people in my group happened to be doing this section, so off we went. It was record-breaking weather for the first week of October, reaching 29°C in some parts of the country.
The first section involved taking a steep path uphill from Priory Gardens, and then joining the Parkland Walk, the route of a former railway line which we already did a few weeks ago. Luckily it was mostly shaded, so things weren’t too uncomfortable. We looked out for evidence of a railway having been here several decades ago, along with the wildlife that had moved in.
It was a pleasant walk, and when we reached Finsbury Park it was very crowded, with people out enjoying the unusual autumn sunshine. We stopped for some ice cream. It was odd to see people out sunbathing as if it was July, yet leaves were turning yellow and falling from the trees, and sunset already takes place before 7pm. Such an odd combination.
Finsbury Park has a boating lake and flower gardens.
At the eastern edge of the park we crossed Green Lanes, and then followed the New River, an artificial water course built in 1613 to bring fresh water from Hertfordshire to London.
We had to cross Seven Sisters Road and rejoin the river. It wasn’t such a pleasant part, and when we’d nearly reached Newnton Close, we were faced with a tree that had fallen directly onto a gate.
It was a bit of a tricky maneuvre, going through a gate and ducking under a fallen tree at the same time. On the other side of it was the remains of some police tape, presumably telling people to keep out. There had, however, been no such tape at the other end of the section at Seven Sisters Road, warning us of the problem ahead. Luckily we managed to get through, otherwise there’d have been a bit of backtracking going on.
We continued along two reservoirs. First there was the East Reservoir, which was interesting enough. After crossing Lordship Road we continued along the West Reservoir, which had a different atmosphere altogether and was much more upmarket. It was accompanied by some rather swish new blocks of flats, with balconies overlooking the water and immaculate but artificial-looking lawns.
The next point of interest was The Castle Climbing Centre, a former pumping station which did indeed look like a castle.
We then joined Clissold Park, a lovely place for a rest. We could see St Mary’s Church from quite far away.
We then joined Stoke Newington Church Street, a place that aspires to have a village atmosphere, but feels wrong somehow. It’s a nice place, full of independent shops and pubs, but most of them were overpriced and we could feel a slight air of pretension. It was a nice place to visit for a day out, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
The highlight of the walk was supposed to be Abney Park Cemetery, a Victorian cemetery now allocated as a nature reserve. We’d tried to find out the opening hours online, but it was difficult to find any accurate information. The Abney Park website said it was open during “daylight hours”, and another website from Hackney Council said it was open until 7pm in summer and 4pm in winter, without specifying exactly when summer and winter started and ended. I think we arrived somewhere around 6pm, only to find a sign saying it’d closed at 5pm. Useful. I’ve sent an email to the Abney Park Trust, asking them if they’d be able to put some more detailed information online.
Whenever we do the next section starting at Stoke Newington, we’ll start by visiting the cemetery first.
Update on 7th October 2011: I’ve received a reply from the Abney Park Trust. They said “Currently the park closes at 5pm and this will change to 4pm when the clocks change at the end of October”. They also said they’re experiencing an ongoing problem with Hackney Parks regarding the opening hours.