Gay Outdoor Club
The activity club for gay men and women and their friends

8 July 2017: Ally Pally to Kinky Cross

9 Jul 2017 | Hertfordshire Group

Event led by Andrew H
Attendance: 14 men and 1 woman
Distance: 9.8 miles
Time: start 11:13, end 16:15, lunch 32 minutes
Terrain: entirely on hardstanding.
Elevation: start 41m, high 99m, low 17m
Weather: mainly clear blue skies, from 20 to 24°C, light winds, very humid

This was a 9.8 mile point-to-point walk from Alexandra Palace railway station, SW to Highgate, E to Finsbury Park and the Woodberry Wetlands, then S via Canonbury to Regents Canal, then W to Kings Cross railway station.  Part of the route re-used the Parkland Walk of 09 July 2016.

This walk demonstrated - again - just how green London is, and in particular how well hidden it can be.

Prior to the walk, a few members met up at the Park View Café, next to Alexandra Palace station for a bargain coffee and toast.

After a meander through the relative openness of Alexandra Park, we walked through Queen’s Wood, a local nature reserve of Haringey and formerly part of the Forest of Middlesex as cited in the Domesday Book.  We joined the Parkland Walk to Finsbury Park, repeating part of last year’s route and enjoyed (sort-of) the appalling din of the Wireless Festival and thereafter broke into new ground on the New River Walk (map (GPX), history).

From the New River Walk alongside Eade Road, we were able to look northbound towards Ally Pally and see the old industrial estate at Vale Road, now being used for more modern enterprises.

The New River Walk took us towards the Woodberry Wetlands, managed by the London Wildlife Trust and part-funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund.  These are small reservoirs set up to host a variety of wildlife.  These seem to be succeeding: we saw a tern and an egret amidst a wide variety of plants.  We had lunch at the Coal House Café.

Surrounding the lakes on their northern edges were a number of old and new tower blocks and apartments, sited - and for the newer blocks - designed to enjoy the sight of the water.  Leaving the Wetlands took us past the Woodberry Down Estate, the path to which presented more evidence of extensive re-generation and re-development.  The riverside apartments facing the West Reservoir were fronted by a water fountain whereby the falling water clung to the surface of a large mirrored sphere.

Our path continued along some busy roadside and then into Clissold Park (Hackney BC).  The park was very busy and, at first glance, looked very well maintained.  Having successfully by-passed an ice cream van, we found ourselves subject to an unexpected delay.  Some of the parkgoers were playing a game of rounders and, it being a hot day, the participating young men were shirtless.  Thus, a troupe of gay men took an unforeseen interest in rounders.  Our walk leader belatedly found himself 200m ahead, the group having become “stuck” in the middle of the park.

After a short distance along Green Lanes, we turned onto Petherton Road.  The map clearly shows that it is a road, but it is actually a single carriageway separated by a long garden.  Rows of well-pointed Georgian brickwork adorned each side of the street in this quiet area.  Walking past Canonbury station, the urban landscape became more gentrified, with larger houses and rows of cottages vying for space.

The New River Walk resumed with a much wider parkland, with only the occasional peek of housing, hidden by years of growth from the trees that surround the New River Walk.  At times, it was difficult to believe that we were in the middle of suburban “uptown” London, but we knew we were in parkland: we saw fountains, once of which was angled such that its spray created a rainbow.  One of our members photographed a member of the public trying to touch the rainbow; quite appropriate for the day of the London Pride Parade.  Elsewhere, the group walked into two people sat on the ground studying an escaped terrapin staring at passers-by.  A few carp rested in the warm, shaded water.

We walked past the Almeida Street theatre - temporarily losing one member as he popped in for a dose of culture and ended up with some marketing instead - and a slightly more commercial part of the neighbourhood, giving the area a more villagey feel (albeit a very built-up village).  As we made our final descent to the Regents Canal, we passed through a remarkable development of flats between Maygood Street and Muriel Street, whose design was aesthetic, functional and enhanced by very well maintained communal gardens.

Our walk along The Regent’s Canal was short, from Muriel Street to the King’s Boulevard, encompassing the Battlebridge Basin. This area has enjoyed significant regeneration and is now mainly residential with commerce centred around Pancras Square, sat between the two mainline railway termini.  The environment was very pleasant, especially in the sunlight.  Moored at the towpath was a longboat acting as a bookshop.  On its upper deck was a trio of musicians playing jazz.  Behind the boat and the canal was a modern building nesting within the conserved remnants of a Victoria gas tank building, and behind that was an office block encased in fine mesh.

On arrival at Kings Cross - where this walk terminated - we were greeted by a new sight of Kings Cross station looking pleasant.  For many of us who live and work outside of London, this was a novelty.

Our optional pub stop was the Parcel Yard, inside Kings Cross station.

After the walk, two members continued to Trafalgar Square to see the last twenty (or so) paraders in the London Pride Parade.

Group shot

Group shot

Decoration at the patio of the Park View Café, Alexandra Palace

Decoration at the patio of the Park View Café, Alexandra Palace

A sample of the housing in the Alexandra Palace area

A sample of the housing in the Alexandra Palace area

The New River Walk with some houses and an industrial estate behind it.

The New River Walk with some houses and an industrial estate behind it.

Modern apartment buildings overlooking the East Reservoir of the Woodberry Wetlands.

Modern apartment buildings overlooking the East Reservoir of the Woodberry Wetlands.

Overlooking the East Reservoir of the Woodberry Wetlands, from the western edge looking east.

Overlooking the East Reservoir of the Woodberry Wetlands, from the western edge looking east.

Modern apartments at the Woodberry Wetlands with the mirrored spherical water fountain.

Modern apartments at the Woodberry Wetlands with the mirrored spherical water fountain.

Petherton Road, a single carriageway road with a wide central reservation, used as a footpath and elongated garden.

Petherton Road, a single carriageway road with a wide central reservation, used as a footpath and elongated garden.

Touching the rainbow.

Touching the rainbow.

An escaped terrapin.

An escaped terrapin.

New River Walk, the Astey's Row rock garden.

New River Walk, the Astey's Row rock garden.

Regent's Canal, approaching Battlebridge Basin.

Regent's Canal, approaching Battlebridge Basin.

A bookshop boat with jazz band, a building behind Victorian gas tank columns, and an office building encased in fine mesh.

A bookshop boat with jazz band, a building behind Victorian gas tank columns, and an office building encased in fine mesh.

Pictures by Peter O’Connor.  Words by Martin Thornhill.

 
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