Posts Tagged ‘Capital Ring’

Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick

Friday, October 11th, 2019

This short section of the Capital Ring is one of my favourites, or at least goes though some of my favourite areas, as this was the first time I’ve actually walked the whole section as a continous walk. It’s also one of the shorter sections of the London walk, which makes it rather easier for me now that my legs aren’t as young as they used to be.

Walkers too often have a distance fetish, where the purpose of the walk becomes a matter of getting as many miles (or kilometres) as possible under your feet, heading from A to B without deviation or even stopping to enjoy the points in-between. I’m more of a wanderer and an explorer, happy to go where the mood or interest takes me. And if you look at the pictures you will find that we didn’t entirely stick to the published route.

I spent around 20 years wandering around London in this way with a camera (or two), walking with a starting point and sometimes a few likely points of interest marked on a photocopied page of the A-Z, wandering until I felt tired or time was up, then finding a bus stop or station – never far away in London – to make my way home. It’s a practice that is celebrated in my self-published ‘London Dérives‘, images from 1975-83, still available from Blurb as a PDF or expensive hard copy – or direct from me.

Some of these pictures were more like coming across old friends, locations that I’d photographed perhaps thirty or more years ago, while there were other parts of the route that I’ve walked many times over the years. Perhaps some of them are more pictures of loss than records of the present, taken because of what was there before rather than what is there now.

Around 1983 I made an unsuccessful attempt to get funding for a photographic project on the River Lea and the Lea Navigation, submitting a small portfolio of pictures I had already made of the area and a brief description, along with a letter of support from a well-respected photographer I knew and a CV in which the major (in fact the only significant) entry was a large exhibition in a provincial art gallery – much also now in another self-published book and web site.

At the time I was naive in the ways of the small elite controlling awards in the UK and failed to realise that the support of a leading member of the London Salon was the kiss of death. I didn’t make any further applications for funding and until 2003 the only official support I got for photographs came from the Arts Council poetry funds, payment for a portfolio and pictures in several issues of a magazine.

I went ahead and completed the project without financial support – fortunately a full-time teaching post giving me both enough to live on and relatively long holidays as well as weekends – even though during term I was putting in an average 60 hours a week into teaching, preparation and marking. Another self-published book, Before the Olympics, contains many of the pictures from this as well as later work, and more can be seen on my River Lea web site.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Highgate to Stoke Newington

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

On the early May Bank Holiday – the one that should have been on May Day but isn’t – Linda and I walked another short section of the Capital Ring, from Highgate to Stoke Newington.

After a short walk along footpaths and roads, the route joins the former railway line which is now the Parkland Walk. Quite a lot of this is in a cutting, though there are some embankment sections, but except where the line has bridges over roads the view is often very limited by trees and bushes which have grown beside the former line.

A long bridge takes you across the East Coast main line and its suburban outliers and into Finsbury Park, where both cafe and toilets were very welcome.

Across the park you join the New River, supplying water to London since 1613, thanks in particular to the efforts of Sir Hugh Myddelton, though I expect he had quite a few others to dig it for him (and it wasn’t his idea in the first place.)

This goes along the edge of the Woodberry Down Estate, a large area bought by the LCC for housing in 1934, but only developed after the war as a ‘utopian estate of the future‘. Building began in 1949 and the 57 large blocks of flats were only completed in 1962. The estate included the country’s first purpose built comprehensive school and a medical estate opened by Nye Bevan, but unfortunately was allowed to deteriorate over the years, and beggining in 2009 became one of Europe’s biggest single-site estate regeneration projects.

The controversial scheme by Berkeley Homes, Notting Hill Genesis and Hackney Council will involve a loss of around a fifth of social housing in the area estimated by the council at around 320 homes and has been described as ‘state-sponsored gentrification‘ with 3 bed flats selling for around £800,000 and many being bought up as investments by foreign investors rather than used as homes.

On the opposite side of the path, across the New River are large reservoirs of open water, part now a nature reserve with public access (and another tea room with toilets) and another used for sailing and other water sports. The remarkable Scottish Baronial castle built as offices for the water board is now a climbing centre.

From there it’s a short walk to Clissold Park (another cafe and toilets – this must be the best provided section of the Capital Ring) and Stoke Newington Church Street, often described as a ‘hipster hub‘. Next to the park are the two churches of St Mary, the older locked but with an atmospheric and overgrown churchyard and the Victorian built in 1858 to the design of Sir George Gilbert Scott,  open and well worth a visit.

As a final climax we came to Abney Park Cemetery, one of London’s finest, set up in 1840 as a burial ground for non-conformists and the final resting place of around 200,000 Londoners, now a nature reserve. We looked up the train times from nearby Stoke Newington station and rather than rushing through to the station spent some time wandering around and finding a few of the better-known graves and some other interesting monuments.

In our rush from there the few hundred yards to the station I lost a little concentration and we went down to the wrong platform and caught a train going into London rather than out and had to re-plan our journey home. It turned out to be almost as fast.

More pictures from the walk at Highgate to Stoke Newington.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Capital Ring – Hendon to Highgate

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

It was Easter Weekend and on the Saturday I went for another walk with my wife, another short section of the Capital Ring which goes around London, carrying on from Hendon, where we had ended our previous walk with a kosher ice cream.

There was no ice cream on offer today, as it was not only Saturday, but also Passover, and for the next few miles we passed or were passed by numerous small groups of Jewish men, and a few Jewish women, one of whom stopped to ask us why she saw so many people walking past her house and had never heard of the capital Ring – though there were signs for it at both ends of her street.

One of the advantages of walking the Capital Ring is that it is generally extremely well marked, with signs on lamp posts at most junctions as well as waymarks on paths though the various areas of woodland. However we did manage to take a wrong turning, or rather not to turn where we should have done, mainly because I was busy trying to photograph the start of the River Brent, formed by the junction of the Mutton Brook and the Dollis Brook.

Because I’m busy taking photographs I tend to leave the navigation to Linda, who is in charge of the book of the walk. We took a walk up the Dollis Brook as far as the North Circular before I realised we had come the wrong way and we turned back. But it wasn’t a great problem, and I think this section was really one of the highlights of the walk.

Hampstead Garden Village which the walk goes through is really a failed experiment; built to be a garden village to house a community of all classes in 1906 it was soon taken over by the rich.

It was a very hot day, and by the time we reached East Finchley I was able to persuade Linda to take a rest at the Bald Faced Stag, a short distance off the route in East Finchley. The name comes from a stag with a white streak or stripe on its face which was apparently caught nearby. It seemed a decent enough place despite being a ‘gastropub’, though the beer was at a fiver a pint .

Most of the rest of the walk was through Highgate Woods, and close to the end we came across an interesting and controversial structure, built without permission and threatened with destruction. It seemed so entirely in keeping with its woodland location that I felt it should be allowed to remain.

It really was a nice walk, though my legs were tired by the time we reached Highgate. It isn’t a long walk, but we did make a few diversions, and photographers always wander rather to add to any distance. You can see many more pictures at Capital Ring – Hendon to Highgate on My London Diary.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.