05 June, 2007

Finsbury Park to Hornsey on the new river path.

For the curse of water has come again because of the wrath of G*d
And water is on the Bishop's board and the higher thinker's shrine
But I don't care where the water goes if it doesn't get into the wine.

An evening walk from Finsbury Park to Hornsey on some of the most boring and dangerous roads in Harringay if not London as a whole. I started out at Finsbury Park Station when I should have got off the train at Manor House. Never mind. Finsbury park is quite attractive to walk through with a pleasant avenue, although you do have to dodge the bicycles and the drunks. Meeting the new river in the corner of the park, I lost it again at the main road. The only redeeming feature of the car-choked Wightman Road was the wonderful post modernist church of St Paul, Harringay (see illustration). The original church was burnt down in 1984 and was rebuilt with a new organ which is apparently exceptionally good. The attached accomodation for the incumbent was also post modernist.

The path by the new river is closed at the request of Harringay Council although much of the New River is open here. There is a tunnel and when I rejoined the river it was at the end of this tunnel where there was a barrage attracting flotsam of very dubious charm! I saw all sorts of refuse in the river here as it ran next to the East Coast Main Line, again the river was on an embankment. I soon needed to leave the river and go via three sides of a triangle to arrive in Hornsey.

There was building work taking place on a pumping station and water treatment works site (luxury flats no doubt) and the path was closed. It was here I saw a Thames Water Authority coat of arms, a combination of the LCC and New River coats.
So I decided to explore Hornsey. I went past a church tower, minus church, that looked like it had been bombed. Actually it was demolished in 1927 and a new church built nearby. Drat, I didn't see the new church and didn't even look! Then I had a walk round Priory Park, complete with three fountains and two people with dogs breaking into the paddling pool. The third fountain was in the 'philosopher's garden' named after a group of old men who meet there in order to have 'casual conversation. The park was a lot more run down than Finsbury Park but there was good play equipment. There were some curious houses round about, including what looked like war surplus buildings - the sort with the crittall windows and the flat overhanging roofs transformed into flats.

Coming out of the park I called in on my friends Jason and Liz. Jason showed me Hornsey Common which had been planted as a wild flower garden - at vast expense.


Happier than you sound said...

Richard, what a miserable little treatise. Was the only good thing you saw on this walk really the church? Yes, Wightman Road is a mare and the river isn't cleaned out enough. The section between FP and Wightman is closed because it's narrow and runs directly along the backs of people's houses. But in spite of the downsides, the parts you can access are a haven of peace and you often see water birds - swans, moorhens, geese and ducks are common along the stretch taht you can walk behind Wightman. If you want to avoid the drudgery of Wightman, walk along Green Lanes and get a pint in the wonderful time capsule of the Salisbury pub, then cross the road, walk up Hewitt Road and rejoin the river. Perhaps a pint would cheer you up a bit.

Then, if, after emerging by Hornsey station, you follow the road, the other side of the new flats, by the Great Northern Tavern, you come to Alexandra Park. You can then walk through that and come full (if long) circle back to Finsbury Park via Highgate Woods-Queens Wood-Crouch End-Railway Walk or Railway Walk all the way. 90% is off road - one heck of a Green walk for the outer edge of inner London.

Cheer up, chill out, get yer head outta yer proverbial and look for the good. Does anyone really wanna read your carping?

Richard london traveller said...

Happier than you sound, I wasn't making a circular walk but following the new river from source to head- and that path goes along Wightman Road, not green Lanes. There were no water birds that I saw and most of the new river is narrow and behind people's houses - that's no reason to close the path.