The #CapitalRing – Highgate to Stoke Newington

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Park Walk, part of this section

The Capital Ring is a strategic walking route that completely encircles inner and central London. It is approximately 78 miles long and cuts through as many green spaces as is possible.

It was a glorious autumn day, Dog had been a little sore footed recently so hasn’t had the mileage he enjoys and I’d had enough of plumbers so we, Dog and I decided time for a walk.

And given the proximity to Halloween I thought we’d do the section that ends at Abney Cemetery. WoooooooHoooooooooo.

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Our start, not far from Highgate woods and Cemetery, though we didn’t visit that famous place of celebrity burials this time

This section of the Ring is a little out of phase with the previous sections but it is spectacular so I hope you’ll forgive us.

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The bridge you can see is Archway; originally it was planned to be a tunnel through the Highgate hills but the tunnel collapsed in 1812 so the resulting hole was traversed by this lovely Victorian wrought iron structure. This is the start of this stretch, by the busy A505 – soon we left it.

Now, a little local geography. We are in North London. This is a different country to South London. They speak a different language, using the letter ‘t’ more. They have successful football clubs with money and a sense of entitlement. We have Crystal Palace, Millwall and Charlton (ignore Chelsea, they are west London and do not count, much like Fulham) whose only sense is of danger, especially if Millwall are playing. You need a passport, inoculations and security. They can smell a Sarf Londiner miles off.

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a lovely stretch of woodland

So Dog and I trod lightly and spoke to few people.

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That said, it is glorious.

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Dog loved it

We started with an old disused railway, now a strip of spectacular wood and a wildlife paradise called the Parkland Walk, with some pretty super graffiti on some of the crumbling railway infrastructure.

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Graffiti one

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Graffiti two

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Graffiti three

This railway was a Victorian spur through Crouch End; it had been planned to become yet another branch of the underground/tube network and electrified but work on the change stopped in 1940 and was abandoned post WW2.

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Old rail, road and new rail, a tiered approach; maybe a prompt…

This two mile interlude with the odd gap giving views each side was unusually crowded for a midday Monday until I realised it was half term holidays. Yummy mummies and their charges abounded.

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A rather jolly bridge across the main East Coast line to Yorkshire and Scotland

At the far end we entered Finsbury Park and were overwhelmed with buggies.

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Finsbury Park – on of the few views without crowds!

Is it me or have this things grown into small space stations capable of supporting life for two weeks at up to four atmospheres? Two abreast and you can kiss goodbye to your shins.

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The New River

On the far side of the park is the largest council estate – public housing – in the UK – Woodbury estate. Skirting around it is the quaintly named New River. Completed in 1613 it brought fresh water from Ware in Hertfordshire to central London, using the natural land contours to do so, each mile seeing a drop of two inches. The Welsh genius who designed and built it Hugh Myddleton is not celebrated enough.

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very arty…

The idea that, at the time of Shakespeare this canal was being built to feed a reservoir does my heart good.

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It was getting on and the sun beginning to set. Time to move on a bit…

After a wending walk the East and West Reservoirs are reached. They are not needed these days but are kept full for water sports and to serve the surrounding nature and wetlands reserve.

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a lovely body of water – just four miles from the centre of London

Looming across the water is a strange Gothic building, which is known as the Castle and is now a first class indoor climbing centre. It’s original use? A Thames Water pumping station. The Victorians were the ultimate in overdoing public buildings, god bless ’em.

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The splendid Castle

After the Castle it was Clissold Park, another easy on the eye open space. Clissold is named after a clergyman who courted the daughter of a local landowner who disapproved of parsons. It was only after he died that the clergyman and the daughter could wed, and they promptly named the old boy’s mansion after the new master.

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St Mary’s from the Park

Stoke Newington is ahead. It is a pretty village of aged buildings coffee shops and galleries, signs of affluence. First you see St Mary’s Church (designed by George Gilbert Scott who also designed St Pancras station) and then the High Street. The walk is nearly done but there is one last twist.

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Stoke Newington was renowned in the 17th and 18th century as a home for dissenters (Daniel Defoe is one) and religious non conformists who weren’t welcomed in the City of London. It’s hardly surprising that the local cemetery – Abney – houses some of their graves.

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The Booths, who founded the Salvation Army are there (sorry about Dog’s manners) as well as a number of grand mausoleums. These are now eerily decrepit and the whole place is a nature reserve as much as a place of death. The ubiquitous creepers and ivy give it a horror film feel and indeed a lot of such a filmed here.

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Now it is full and a pleasant walk, that becomes creepy as dusk falls. The light wasn’t great so  I should have used flash but somehow that didn’t seem right! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The ruined derelict chapel. Now that was creepy

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And there we have it. Stoke Newington station is ahead taking Dog and me home. This was a breeze at 5.2 miles and one of the richest sections for the variety and interest.

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Now were can we get a cuppa?

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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37 Responses to The #CapitalRing – Highgate to Stoke Newington

  1. Thanks for that trip down memory lane. Highgate, Archway and Crouch End was my stomping ground when I lived in London.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. restlessjo says:

    You’re not shy about displaying your prejudices, are you Geoff? I quite like some of the grandiose Victorian architecture. (and I love that lion tomb! I doubt anyone cares to lavish that much on me 🙂 ) I don’t know this area at all, so I enjoyed our ramble. Nice lake and I liked graffiti no. 3. Hope Dog is fully recovered now?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jools says:

    Great post, and another fascinating walk, Geoffle. But how’s this for creepier… looking at the creepy picture you took of the derelict chapel with its reinforced, vacant window, I couldn’t help but think of those nightmarish shots of Hannibal Lecter in his face-mask. ‘Tis the season, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sacha Black says:

    1. How do you get form section to section to start a new bit?

    2. LOVE that black and white graffiti gorjus and reminds me of the Mexican festival for the dead.

    3. Ware!!!!!! The next village – I heard that you can walk the canal all the way into London…. Now I know where it stops!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That was a great walk Geoff. That cemetery is pretty spooky. all overgrown and tumbledown with a mish mash of graves.
    I agree with Sascha that the graffiti #3 looks like the Mexican festival for the dead, with its colouring and skeletal figures. I liked your mini video sections as well pointing things out. Thank you sharing this with us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ali Isaac says:

    Nice to see so many green spaces in London. And that graveyard is proper creepy!!! 😨😱👻

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      One of the benefits of the Church only sanctioning cremation towards the end the19th century is lots of graves. Lucky us. And London is fabulously green if only you go looking!

      Like

  7. Another great trip, with amusing cultural references

    Like

  8. suitably creepy for the season and a lovely tour !

    Like

  9. jan says:

    I have to admit that when we were in London I had no idea if we were in the West or East! It lovely that they have such great walks which take advantage of green areas!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. noelleg44 says:

    Loved the lion! And dogs are welcome on the train?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Autism Mom says:

    Love the video elements and the cemetery is wonderfully creepy!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Following mountain goats! | restlessjo

  13. jeanne229 says:

    Thanks for directing me to this post today Geoff. Wow! A real trip into the (not so distant) past. I lived right between Highgate and the Archway Road when I first moved there, the not-so-posh end outside the village, and very fondly remember Crouch End. Had to laugh at ,”They can smell a Sarf Londiner miles off.” I met many a workingman who never knew the “t.” It took me a while to peg someone’s economic class to their accents. I spent the first asking everyone, “What did you say?” What fun. Wish I could amble along those paths again. Maybe someday. 9My kids are both dual citizens.) Beautiful photos and I am now quite fond of “dog.”

    Like

  14. josypheen says:

    I love this! My husband and I did this walk last year, but I didn’t know all of the history behind the monuments we walked past!

    I’ll link to your post when I get around to writing up about our walk. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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