Dave Sergeant

The Green London Way is a walking route of 110 miles length around London split into 18 sections. It follows much of the route of the 78 mile long Capital Ring but has some new sections. The Green London Way is largely the work of one man, Bob Gilbert, who is a supporter for the protection of urban open spaces and public access. His book, The Green London Way, outlines each section with detailed description of the historic and wildlife aspects of each section and is being used as I walk the route.

Green London Way Walk 16 - Finsbury Park to Clapton - June 17th 2021

This six mile walk starts at Finsbury Park and then follows the New River to Stoke Newington. It continues to the Lee River to finish at Clapton station. Largely following the route of Capital Ring sections 12 and 13 but as usual with some interesting diversions from it.

So arriving at Finsbury Park station, having remembered to change at Highbury and Islington so that I would emerge the right side of the station, I followed the path across the park. Finsbury Park is quite large with a big pond in the centre along with tennis courts and other sports facilities. Being a hot sunny day there were plenty of people out enjoying themselves.

Out of the park, and after crossing the busy Green Lanes for the first time, the New River is joined. This is neither a river nor new, it is a artificial channel built in the 17th century to bring water from springs in Hertfordshire into the capital, a job it still does to this day.

Further down the New River I was intrigued with this chimney on the opposite bank and what OCC stood for. When I checked later it turned out to be the Oriental Carpet Centre, not particularly interesting... maybe the chimney is a relic of the area's industrial past. Alexandra Palace was visible to the North.

The two large reservoirs are now reached, which the New River feeds. The East Reservoir is now Woodberry Wetlands and the book suggested an alternative route through there round the opposite side of the reservoir. I missed the entry gate to there so that was not to be. The path followed the southern bank of the river and the reservoirs were not really visible due to high reed growth.

After the two reservoirs are passed and another short stretch of Green Lanes Clissold Park is entered. Clissold House was named after a young curate who fell in love with the daughter of a banker. It was opened as a public park in 1899. The new St Mary's church is in the background which replaced the old church opposite in 1858. Walking through the graveyard of the old church led to the main street through Stoke Newington where I stopped for lunch.

At the other end of Stoke Newington Church Street, passing the inconspicuous plaque to Daniel Defoe who lived thereabouts, I turned into Abney Park Cemetery. Named after Thomas Abney, another banker, this cemetery was created for the burial of non-conformists. There are a number of well known people buried here in particular William Booth who founded the Salvation Army and Isaac Watts the famous Methodist hymn writer whose statue has been recently restored. Now very overgrown I find it a rather eerie place but fascinating to explore and the grave for the inventor of the screw propeller John Swan was an interesting find.

After leaving the cemetery the route now goes through the suburban streets of Stamford Hill where the Hassidic Jews live and can be seen in their black hats. The Green London Way takes a different route through here than the Capital Ring and passes Stoke Newington Common, which as you can see is a pretty small affair. Then into Springfield Park, another public park opened in 1905 and with superb views of London.

Now the River Lee is reached and I am on familiar ground from my other walks. The Green London Way makes a small diversion through the greenery of Walthamstow Marshes and very pleasant it is. Then down the river under the railway viaduct until Clapton where this section ends. A short walk to Clapton Overground station and to Liverpool Street then Waterloo and the trip home. The Waterloo and City line had reopened the week before after being closed since the start of lockdown so I made a celebatory hop on that on the way. Another pleasant, if somewhat hot, day.