16 – Parkland Walk, New River Path, Alexandra Park 7.1 miles – 18th May

In short: beautiful Parkland Walk in the rain, urban backwaters and lovely Alexandra Park to finish. Plentiful free on-street parking, wonderful Finsbury Park cafe for a mid walk snack and functional, clean, public toilets. 2 hrs 15 mins walking + 20 min pitstop.

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Heavy rain was forecast for Wednesday morning this week so we made a conservative decision to walk the Parkland Walk – our old default walk when pressed for time – and, as in this case, when we need some guaranteed shelter. Needing to visit a friend, and sometime fellow walker, near Alexandra Park we decided to add a return loop through Alexandra Park via the New River Path.

And so the walk commences in the same way as number 1 in this blog, by parking near the junction of Cranley Gardens and Wood Vale, postcode N10 3DJ.

We walk along Wood Vale to the start of Queens Woods and take the first proper path into the woods on our left. On reaching a footpath junction we bear left onto the Capital Ring path and head up some steps onto Priory Gardens. At the top of the steps we turn right and after a couple of hundred metres take a path between some houses up on our left, at the Capital Ring sign.

This path brings us out onto Shepherds Hill between a little wood and the Highgate library, we cross the road here, turning right and then immediately left at the traffic lights we head downhill on Archway Road but only as far as the first turning, Holmesdale Road, where we turn left. The entrance to the Parkland Walk is along here on the left and straight away we leave the suburban streets for a magical woodland.

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We follow this well trodden footpath for the best part of 2 miles, ignoring paths off right and left and passing over and under the various roads en route to Finsbury Park.

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The path finishes at a T-junction where we turn left, crossing the railway line, and enter Finsbury Park here. We take the path straight ahead, crossing an internal service road and heading up towards the cafe ahead on our left. The public toilets are in the same building with the entrance just to the right of the cafe.

This really is a super place – the lunch menu looks amazing – however it’s only 10.30am so we limit ourselves to a pastry or toast and one of their fabulous hot chocolates.

After an all too brief pitstop we decide to leave before the weather really closes in, as its been threatening to do all morning. We turn left on leaving the cafe, in front of the boating pond, and take the path alongside the service road as it heads past another children’s playground and curves right towards the softball pitches. The park here is really gorgeous – beautifully maintained, very green and with numerous rhododendron bushes just coming into flower.

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Just after passing a bridge on our left we reach a fence and realise that this actually is the New River, so retracing our steps a few metres we cross the bridge and head left along the New River Path.

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We are almost immediately at the exit out of the park onto Endymion Road, where we cross and turn left following the signs. At this point the actual river itself passes under the series of roads know as the Haringey ladder and there is no path beside the water so we follow the designated path along Endymion Road to the roundabout where we turn right onto Wightman Road. This section of the walk is just pavement along a busy street, however there is major engineering work going on so the road is closed for a few weeks and there is very little traffic, making it slightly eerie and probably a lot more pleasant.

Just before the right turning onto Allison Road the path crosses Wightman Road and materialises between the houses opposite. Here we pass a small treatment area, cross the river and take the path beside the river at the backs of houses. This section has a very distinctly urban feel – we are between a railway line on our left and the backs of houses and a couple of industrial units on our right – quite honestly it’s not very picturesque.

After just a few minutes the path finishes at a road, Hampden Road, where we turn right as once again we can’t follow the course of the river. We then turn immediately left back onto Wightman Road, turning left again at the traffic lights ahead and along Hornsey High Street under the railway bridge.

Just after the railway bridge the path continues on the far side of the road (it’s very busy here so we go a bit further along to cross at the lights) to the left of the railway line and we are once again on the riverbank. On the far side of the river here there is a relatively new housing development of low rise apartment blocks – these have been rather attractively designed with an interesting use of colour in the building materials and some simple, attractive, landscaping. They also must afford an impressive view of Alexandra Palace as this appears majestically while we are walking along.

We keep the river on our left and after a short while the path veers off right away from the river and under a railway underpass. Once out the other side we turn left onto Western Road and walk past some light industrial buildings to eventually come out opposite a park where we turn left and walk along the path at it’s edge. This brings us onto Station Road where we turn left, passing Heartlands High School; we cross over at a roundabout, staying on the same side of the road and turn left at Alexandra Park station taking the walkway across the railway line. At the end of this walkway we turn left onto Bedford Road and enter Alexandra Park.

Just after entering the park we take the lane off to the left; ignoring the path left signposted to a nature reserve we continue along this lane passing the fork left which heads to the football and cricket club. We stay on this path as it heads out of a lightly wooded area to a more open aspect – this is all very familiar to us but nonetheless beautiful – even in the relentless drizzle (actually a relief after the downpour we walked through a few minutes earlier!).

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We ignore paths off to the right and left, passing alongside an orange sanded hard standing space and coming onto a lovely wide avenue leading out to the main iron gates and exiting the park there. We cross over at the traffic lights onto Park Road and take the second turning on the right onto Cranley Gardens and thus back to the car.

This isn’t the most adventurous of our recent walks – it’s very local to us and so has little to offer in the way of novelty – however the beginning and end sections are really lovely and well worth spending time doing – no doubt the New River Path has lovelier sections but here at least it made an effective link. On a miserable grey day this was an invigorating walk – pretty in parts – and definitely one to release a few endorphins into our systems!

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