The Parkland Walk/Northern Heights (2) – Finsbury Park to Highgate

Four months ago, I took a random wander round North London along an abandoned bit of the Northern Line known as the Parkland Walk. To give a sense of just of the route, here is a map of the Northern Line had the extensions actually been fully opened.

The Parkland Walk has fascinated me for a long time. An abandoned bit of railway threading its route through some of North London’s most desirable neighbourhoods, but I have never been able to take the time out to complete the whole walk until a couple of weeks ago when I found myself with a spare Sunday. And why not wander down to the railway tracks and see where the tube used to run…

A lot of the old features remain on the track bed that show the evidence of its previous use as a functioning railway. Abandoned platforms, old bridges, embankments and tunnels. It is a fascinating wander for anyone with the slightest interest in trains. Just to see the structure of the line, the way that a railway is constructed is a way to satisfy the curiosity when you look out of a train window.

The Parkland Walk’s primary objective seems to be that of a linear nature reserve that threads its way through North London. And it is true, it provides an excellent green lung to the city, a strange oasis of wildlife where you can hear the birds sing among the tree tops that have grown up along the trackside over the past half century. Creepers that have grown up against tunnel walls and playgrounds surrounded by shrubbery. A semi-state of wilderness amongst the orderly buildings of the city.

But it also is home to more than just wildlife. After all, this is North London, a creative melting pot of talent that has used the old structures along the parkland walk to great effect. Whether wonderful, or plain weird, the graffiti along the trackside is simply spectacular. And for once it is great that the trustees of the walk have not whitewashed the walls, but have kept the art work as they are.

An interesting look into the minds of North London’s denizens, expression and fantasy rolled into one, alongside the nature that is the Parkland Walk. This first section of the walk from Finsbury Park itself through the hills of Highgate is enjoyable on so many levels. Whether as a slow summer stroll or a quick jog through, the Parkland Walk provides not only a beautiful journey through North London but ultimately a fascinating one.

A lot of the trackbed is elevated and so some great views over the surrounding streets can be had. So before I end this blog post, let me ask you, the reader this. Have any of you seen the top of a lamp post? Anyone? Well, unless you work for a local council’s maintenance department, probably not, so, here for you, my humble reader, is the top of a typical street light.

At the Highgate end, you reach a set of tunnels that firmly reminds you what the original purpose of this park was. That of a tube line. The tunnels themselves are shut off to the casual visitor, so all you can do is peer down and create wonderfully immature echoes along its reverberating path. The Parkland walk continues, after Highgate and takes you onward to the Alexandra Palace. But that, is another blog post…

My original visit to the Parkland Walk/Northern Heights from Stroud Green to Finsbury Park.

My visit to the Dollis Brook Viaduct – another section of the Northern Line that was once a part of the Northern Heights Plan.


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Filed under london, places, travel

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