Capital Ring: South Kenton to Finsbury Park

2 February 2008

On a frosty and sunny Candlemas, we set off from South Kenton Tube station and after some suburban walking through streets and a small park, pass Preston Road station, and eventually into Fryent Country Park.

Ellie on a path which is easier to walk on that it looks as it is largely frozen, though the bits in the densest forest, being warmest, were still muddy.

We walked alongside the Jubilee Line for a short way, then turned right up Barn Hill. This watery path which would have made for a very mushy walk was frozen solid.

As we climb away from the Jubilee Line, a look back to the west: Harrow on the Hill which we recently went through on the Capital Ring is on the left of picture.

Ellie as we climb through the woods on Barn Hill

Barn Hill Pond, next to the summit

The trig point and Wembley Stadium on the summit of Barn Hill

A beautiful spot. It is now 33.75 miles since Crystal Palace Park and 26.75 miles to Woolwich Foot Tunnel

After crossing Fryent Way, the route continues through more of Fryent Country Park

Another Capital Ring signpost and a tree on top of another hill in Fryent Country Park.

From there a slightly confusing route takes us onto suburban roads and to Kingsbury. Here we find "new" St Andrew's Church: originally built in 1847 in Marylebone, it later became redundant and in 1931 was moved here and built next to the old St Andrew's Church

Soon we reach Brent Reservoir, also known as the Welsh Harp. A nearby pub was originally called The Harp and Horn, and later The Old Welsh Harp.

The reservoir was built by the Regent's Canal Company and opened in June 1835 as Kinsbury Reservoir to supply water to the Paddington Arm of the Grand Junction Canal and thus the Regent's Canal. It was subsequently enlarged and at its maximum covered 160 hectares, but is now reduced to 45 hectares.

Looking to the northern spur of the reservoir as we walk along Cool Oak Lane. A narrow bridge crosses the reservoir, and as well as traffic lights to control the one-way traffic, pedestrians get their own phase to walk across the bridge and hold up all the traffic.

In quick succession we cross the A5, Midland Mainline railway and the M1, before suburban streets take us north of Brent Cross Shoping Centre

We cross the Edgware Branch of the Northern Line - the driver of the train whistled to us. I had no idea these modern trains had an authentic-sounding whistle!

After crossing Hendon Park and a few more streets, we find ourselves by the River Brent once more, in a surprisingly pleasant narrow strip of green, sandwiched between housing and the North Circular Road (said to be Britain's noisiest road)

We cross under the North Circular and follow Dollis Brook along another green strip.

Ellie by Dollis Brook

From Lyttleton Playing Fields, looking back to Hamstead Garden Suburb

We have a bit more street walking before passing through East Finchley Underground station as the easiest way of crossing the railway, and then enter Cherry Tree Wood park, where we find Lucy and Henry waiting for us. Here I swapped dogs, had a bite to eat, and continued on eastwards.

From Cherry Tree Wood we passed through Fortis Green and into Highgate Wood, where Henry is looking very elegant.

Henry ponders a visit to the caf as we pause by the plaque marking the opening of the Capital Ring on 21 September 2005.

From Highgate Wood we cross Queen's Wood Road and then continue our delightful woodland perambulation through Queen's Wood

The Capital Ring has joined forces with the Parkland Walk, and they now both take to the trackbed of what was a branch of the Great Northern Railway, opened in 1867 from Finsbury Park to Edgware. It was closed to passengers in 1954 and to goods traffic in 1970. At one point there were plans to build a motorway along its length, but in 1984 it was opened as London's longest linear park and now a nature reserve.

Looking down from one of the bridges into streets

Continuing along the old railway trackbed - rather muddier than this in places, but never too bad.

Approaching the bridge which carries Crouch End Hill over the route, and beyond can be seen the platforms of Crouch End station.

This tree's roots have been severely constrained by the wall, now partially collapsed.

From the bridge over Stapleton Hall Road, we find that we are also crossing the London Overground line from Gospel Oak to Barking: in the middle distance can be seen the East Coast Mainline railway, which shows that our gradually curving route is approaching its eventual junction with the mainline.

And here is the mainline, looking south to the platforms of Finsbury Park station. Just on the east side of the line begins the Capital Ring walk from Finsbury Park to the River Lee, but for today our route lies south through the park to the station.

A very pleasant walk. Barn Hill open space and the Welsh Harp open space were surprisingly delightful, and Highgate and Queen's Woods were as lovely as expected, together with the interesting railway trackbed walk and a number of other smaller interesting or pleasant spots. Definitely a better walk than I'd anticipated, which is always the right way round!

Zoom in for more detail, or see map in larger window: Ordnance Survey | Open Street Map | Google Maps

Total distance: 22.3 km (including minor diversions and station links - 21.0 km on the Capital Ring) in 5 hours 8 minutes with 338 metres of ascent - the hilliest Capital Ring walk yet.



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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson