Capital Ring – Section 12: Highgate to Stoke Newington (along the Parkland Walk)

Capital Ring – Section 12: Highgate to Stoke Newington (along the Parkland Walk)

I’d like to introduce another section of the Capital Ring walk that goes all the way around London, through parks, playing fields and canals. The walk starts in Highgate, and winds its way over to the beautiful Abney Park Cemetery in stoke Newington. You’ll wander through London’s longest nature reserve on the Parkland Walk from Highgate to Finsbury Park. This was actually the first part of the Capital Ring that we walked. I didn’t want to write about them all in the wrong order, so I started from Section 1 for my blog. That is why the weather suddenly looks colder in my photos.

Highgate to Stoke Newington the basics

Distance: 8 km
Public transport: Highgate (tube) to Stoke Newington (rail)
Best sights along the way: Parkland Walk, then all the parks, (Finsbury Park, Stoke Newington Reservoirs and Clissold Park.) Most of all – Abney cemetery
Loos: Before you get on the Parkland Walk there are loos in Highgate Wood and Queen’s Wood. Then more in Finsbury Park and Clissold Park; there are also several pubs and cafes in Stoke Newington.

Highgate to Stoke Newington Map

Capital Ring section 12 – the route

The walk begins along the Parkland Walk from Highgate.

I used to live near Finsbury Park. It was back when I was a student, and the area was slightly more dodgy. The best thing about living there was being so close to this amazing Parkland Walk. I think my mum found out about it and told me to check it out. Somehow my friends had lived in a flat right next to this amazing wilderness for ages, without knowing it was there! Once we’d discovered it, it became our flat’s main jogging route and a pleasant place to wander in the summertime.

Basically, the parkland walk is an ex-train line from Finsbury park up to Alexandra Palace. Now, the train tracks are long gone, and a variety of trees line the path on either side of the walkway. A couple of times along the route you can even climb up onto the station platforms as they did not remove them yet. Haringay Council’s website says that the walk has over 200 different wild flowers and that you can see hedgehogs, foxes, butterflies and a vast array of birds as well as the occasional muntjac. I must giggle or chat too much when I am walking as I have not seen most of these critters. I’ve seen the odd fox and lots of cats walking along this route. There are always lots of dog walkers, so this is one of the best parts of London for meeting doggos.

The SprigganAnyway as I have walked along this path so many times, it always feels a little like coming home. My favourite places are when you are up high above the houses, looking down on the rooftops of Haringay. Around halfway along the walk, look out for the Spriggan (a sort of goblin-dude) between the brick arches. I only noticed him on our last walk. Now I feel like an idiot! How could I miss something so cool, so many times!?

Near this statue there is lot of graffiti, and it is always changing. I am sure it’ll look different by now. It is always bright and colourful.

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Finsbury park is another pleasant space. The route goes right through the centre of the park past the pond, so you can feed the ducks. The playground here is really good for little folks. My nice and nephew always love it here!! Quite often there are large events happening within the park, like fun fairs or concerts. So you can stop here if you’d like to see whatever is happening. Talking of happening things, if you didn’t buy lunch already, you can take a small detour – pop out of the Southern exit of the park and on the opposite side of the road, you can buy a truly tasty lunch at the Happening Bagel Bakery. They have amazing looking cakes as well, but I am always a little disappointed by them; Just buy a bagel!

Once you’re out of Finsbury park, you get to walk along the New River. TFL says that this river is spectacularly misnamed. It is neither new, or a river! It is a 400 year old, man-made watercourse that was built to bring water into Islington from Hertfordshire.

When we came past in January, it was a pretty depressing sight. There is quite a lot of rubbish at the edge of the path and in the water. The path itself was a bit of a quagmire – it is so, so muddy in winter! Plus the views are of the UK’s largest council estate and an industrial area. Unfortunately this is not very picturesque. I have seen other people’s photos on sunny says when the river is a giant mirror reflecting fluffy clouds and blue skies. So It can be pleasant along here in the summer! I told my mum and dad about how much we loved the capital ring walk, so they did this section one weekend when they came to cat-sit. I like my mum’s photos, so I have used some of her’s rather than my own.

It gets slightly better as you wind along the path. There are some attempts at decorations on some of the gates, and then the path become prettier when you reach the Woodberry Down reservoirs. There are reeds and plants growing along the edges and it seems far less industrial. In fact, it all seems very new! Housing in this part of London is getting more and more expensive, so developers have started to build luxury flats with lovely views out to the water. We stopped to peek at some of the public art they had left along the path. I love the mole and the toad from the Wind in the Willows.

Once you get to the end of the two reservoirs, the New River ends by a large castle. The castle used to be a pumping station. It was full of steam engines to pump the water from 1856.  Later, when the steam engines and boilers were replaced with diesel engines and electric pumps, the building no longer had a use. It has now been turned into one of London’s most fun climbing centres.

The route then goes straight to Clissold Park. The walk takes you past the ponds, and then out next to the pretty St Mary’s Church. My friends and I used to sunbathe in this park. When we lived nearby, this park was more relaxed, with less creepy blokes trying to chat us up compared to Finsbury Park! There were no sunbathers this early in the year, but we saw lots of dog walkers.

You follow the Capital Ring Signs along Stoke Newington Church Street. This is a really pleasant part of London with lots of interesting shops and cafes. It was starting to get a little dark when we walked here.

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So we kept going straight to the gorgeous Abney Park Cemetery. The whole place is beautifully landscaped and each pathway has a name.  Now, it is a nature reserve. This means there are tress and flowers (and lots of vines) growing between the graves. Some monuments have fallen into disrepair, but it gives the place an air of mystery. I may have watched too much Dr Who, but I found myself being slightly worried about some of the angel statues!! I watched them carefully!!

So, starting on the Parkland Walk and finishing in the wilderness of the Abney Park Cemetery make this one of my favourite sections of the walk. It may not be as picturesque like the section near Richmond, but I can’t help but love wandering in North London!!

You can find the TFL map for this section here and the google map here. You can find the rest of my Capital Ring posts here.

23 thoughts on “Capital Ring – Section 12: Highgate to Stoke Newington (along the Parkland Walk)

  1. brilliant, one of my favourite sections if not favourite. Love Abney cemetery, in fact I adore all the Magnificent Seven especially those that are now closed to new interns so the dog can visit too!!

    1. Yay! I am glad you liked it (even if the photos are a little gloomy!)

      I agree about the cemeteries! I like places like Abney best as it is just so wild and pretty!

    1. We try to go most weekends (most of these are much shorter than the actual walk, as we do 2-3 sections on one day…) One of these sections should be about 2 hours, so it’s more like a stroll.

      We didn’t do any for the last few weeks though! Too busy packing to move to Canada!!

    2. p.s.I love that the castle was just a pumping house! Things were made to look so grand in Victorian times!!

    1. Thanks for visiting Joanna!

      Yep, this walk was all in one day. I think it took just over 2 hours, then we took the bus home. 🙂

      Normally we do more than one section so we get to walk for 4-6 hours and really stretch our legs. We finished the walk a while ago, but I’ve been slowly writing about each section and adding them to here:

  2. Hi! I’m pretty sure I’ve asked you this before, but I LOVE YOUR WALKS! I was wondering if you would be interested in doing a blog exchange one day? I have been taking frequent walks with this spring weather, and could post you sceneries of NYC walks. Let me know! <3

    1. Sure! I love that idea!!
      Hang on. I’ll e-mail you through your site so we can work out how to do it. 🙂

    1. Thank you!!
      He’s pretty cool isn’t he! I must have been past him 30 times before I spotted him!

  3. Wow! What an amazing find! We don’t live in London and didn’t know about the Capital Ring Walk. I bet it gets to places way off the beaten track!

    1. Yeah it does go to some lovely quiet places (as well as some pretty famous parks too!)

      You might like some of the canal-y parts as well!

  4. An inspiring account. I would love to do this walk. I’m sure it would reveal many different sides of London to those I’m accustomed to as an infrequent visitor. We outsiders perhaps don’t often think of the capital in terms of nature reserves. That said, I have seen many more foxes on the streets of Stoke Newington than I have in the fields of Cumbria though!

    1. Yes! There are always loads of foxes in Islington! 🙂

      I guess if you don’t live here, you don’t feel the need to escape the city, so you’re more likely to go to the main sights, rather than go walking.

      I’d actually prefer to walk in Cumbria if I could get there a little more easily! The trains heading North are sooo expensive.

    1. It’s 8km (5miles) so about 2 hours walking if you’re going slowly and taking photos!!

      All the sections of the Capital ring are about that long, so you can choose whichever section is close to where you’re staying. 🙂

    1. Lol I loved that lizard sprite dude!!

      I am really sure we’ll end up in London at the same time at some point! We can do a history/food/pretty places tour together!!

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