The second half of the Parkland Walk takes on a much more quiet feel. It is the more deserted end of the track, being separated from the first half by Highgate itself. It is either a scrabble through Queens Wood or a quick stroll (or bus ride if you are the lazy type) down Muswell Hill Road until you reach the rest of the abandoned section of the Northern Heights past Cranleigh Gardens. Don’t worry, it is all signposted, and well worth the detour to the second half of the Parkland Walk.
The reason why the Parkland Walk are two distinct trails instead of one flowing walk is that part of the Northern Heights are actually used by the Northern Line today, as they emerge from the tunnels to the open air of North London suburbia. For the geeks in you (me included), the tunnel that begins to the north of Highgate station runs all the way to Morden in South London, a length of some seventeen miles which makes it one of the longest tunnels in the world! The Northern Heights that are currently in use in Highgate are also used by Northern Line trains as sidings. Oh well, trust logistics to spoil a good walk!
However, while the walk may be quieter and with less spectacular artistic sights, the views across North London are still pretty amazing. One of the things I love most about the Parkland walk is the view across the rooftops of the residences of North London. And it is shocking how many attic conversions seem to be bolted onto the back of every house in this part of the world!
This unassuming subway in Muswell Hill marks the end of the Parkland Walk itself and it is as far as the old track bed was left to nature. All in all, there is over four miles of nature and woodland to explore. But this subway need not mark the end of your journeys. For head underneath it into a whole new world…
If you take a look at yesterday’s post, you will see that the map shows the Northern Heights eventually reaching the Alexandra Palace. SInce I have never visited this famed sight beforehand, I thought that now was the time to get my own act together and take a visit to one of North London’s premier destinations, set in the grounds of the delightful Alexandra Park!
Just to give a brief history. The Ally Pally, as it is fondly known, was built in the 19th Century, as the North London equivalent to Crystal Palace. Like the Crystal Palace, it also suffered a fire, but unlike its South London cousin, it was rebuilt and remains in use to this day. We happened to stumble across a Cypriot Festival. Another interesting note to add is that the Alexandra Palace was the location of the first regular TV broadcasts in the world by the BBC. So, there is quite a lot of significance in terms of world entertainment, here in this lovely patch of North London.
One thing that is great about the Ally Pally is the park itself and the wonderful views across into Central London itself. The skyscrapers of Docklands and The City are easy to spot, even on a cloudy day. The vantage point is breathtaking, and one of the better views in the suburbs of the city. This is definitely a place that I will be returning to sometime in the future…
Getting there and away:
Highgate Stations (Northern Line) and FInsbury Park (Victoria/Picadilly Line) both serve as useful places to join the Parkland Walk. Finsbury Park itself is only few minutes walk from the southern end of the Parkland walk and makes a useful jumping off stage.
The Parkland Walk IS RURAL, so there are no refreshments along the route. However, you are in the middle of North London, and a place to grab a bite to eat is never more than a few minutes away by foot.
The best way to the Alexandra Palace is to hop on the W7 bus which goes through Alexandra Park itself.