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New River Path Part Five: Alexandra Palace to Stoke Newington

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New River Path Part Five: Alexandra Palace to Stoke Newington
Author: Thames Water, Published: 19 Mar 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
London, Alexandra Palace
Walk Type: River or lakeside
New River Path Part Five: Alexandra Palace to Stoke Newington
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 4.5 mile linear walk along the fifth stretch of the New River in London. This diverse section has a bit of everything with chance to see some of the river workings along with residential streets and green open spaces. The New River has an unhelpful name, being neither new nor a river! It is a water supply aqueduct, completed in 1613, to bring drinking water from Hertfordshire to North London. Before this time, London’s water supply was limited to the Thames, local streams and wells which were often contaminated. Thames Water has worked with partners to create a 28 mile long-distance path that follows the river’s course.

The route is relatively flat and follows some paved paths, but mainly unmade paths which can be fairly muddy after periods of rain and in winter. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates and some steps along the way. Whilst the route is waymarked, we found that some of the signs had been rotated round to face the wrong way so take care to check the map and directions regularly. The return leg can be completed by train (see the ‘Getting there’ section for details). Approximate time 2 hours (plus extra time for the walk to the station and the return train journey).

As this is a linear walk, you will need to arrange for both your journey to the start point, as well as your return journey from the end of the walk. You could use two cars, but we would recommend using trains. The start point of the walk is Alexandra Palace Rail Station and the end point is alongside the Stoke Newington Reservoirs, less than a mile’s walk from Finsbury Park Rail Station. The two stations are on the same line and the train journey is less than 10 minutes.

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Walk Sections

Start to Hornsey Waterworks
Start to Hornsey Waterworks

Start point: 51.5982 lat, -0.1197 long
End point: 51.5927 lat, -0.1166 long

Standing on Buckingham Road, facing Alexandra Palace Rail Station, turn left along the pavement. At the mini-roundabout keep straight ahead into Station Road. Immediately before a children’s play area, turn right down the wide tarmac footpath (signed as the New River Path) with the playground to the left and a tall brick wall running on the right.

You’ll notice that the New River (completed in 1613) is conspicuous in its absence here! From Bowes Park (further north) to Hornsey (a little further south) the river flows through a tunnel built in 1859. Don’t worry though, you’ll be alongside the water soon.

The path eventually merges with a tarmac access lane for a school and then reaches a T-junction with the road. Turn right here and follow the road as it swings left, passing The Chocolate Factory on the left. When you draw level with Coburg Road on the left, turn right onto the cycle and footpath which leads you through an arched tunnel beneath the railway.

As you emerge from the tunnel the path swings left and through the railings on the right you’ll see Hornsey Waterworks. These water treatment works were constructed in 1850 and recent improvements to the filter beds mean that up to 60 megalitres of water can be taken from the New River for treatment and distribution in north London.

Hornsey Waterworks to Hampden Road
Hornsey Waterworks to Hampden Road

Start point: 51.5927 lat, -0.1166 long
End point: 51.5872 lat, -0.1089 long

Continue along the tarmac path with the railway line running parallel to the left. A little way in (when you reach a bridge across the water), do NOT cross this instead fork left through the kissing gate to join the left-hand grass bank alongside the New River channel.

On the right you’ll pass a large complex of modern apartments which have a retro feel with their lime green and orange tinted glass balconies. Beyond the apartments, you’ll see the old 1903 Hornsey Pumping Station on the opposite bank, a red brick tower with arched windows. No longer in use as a pumping station the building is currently a restaurant and mocktail bar.

You’ll emerge via a kissing gate onto Hornsey High Street, turn left and follow the pavement under the rail bridge. At the major crossroads, use the pedestrian crossing to cross the small slip road ahead and then turn right over the three small crossings. Pass through the small metal gateway ahead to join the quiet residential road, Denmark Road (with the larger Wightman Road running parallel over to the left).

At the end follow the road as it bends left to reach a T-junction with Wightman Road. Turn right and then, immediately after the mosque, turn right at the crossroads with Hampden Road.

Hampden Road to Finsbury Park
Hampden Road to Finsbury Park

Start point: 51.5872 lat, -0.1089 long
End point: 51.5751 lat, -0.1014 long

After just a short distance, turn left through the green kissing gate to rejoin the riverside path, along the right-hand grass bank. At the end of this stretch, swing left over the footbridge and then swing right and the narrow path will lead you out through a kissing gate to a T-junction with Wightman Road.

Turn right along the pavement and follow this for some distance. The New River is once again out of sight for this stretch. In fact, it is a running behind the houses to your left, being crossed by a series of side roads. This attractive section, known as The Ladder, has no access for walkers at the request of Haringey Council. If you’d like to get a glimpse of The Ladder section, you could take a short detour down one of the side roads (up to and including Burgoyne Street) and take a look through the gateways to see the river passing under the ornate road bridges.

When you draw level with Burgoyne Street on the left (with Harringay Station to the right), use the pedestrian crossing to swap to the left-hand pavement along Wightman Road. Continue over the rail bridge and you will reach a T-junction with Endymion Street. Turn left along the pavement, cross over the side road (Conningsby Road) and a few paces later use to the zebra crossing to swap to the right-hand pavement. A few paces later, turn right through the gate into Finsbury Park.

Finsbury Park to Seven Sisters Road
Finsbury Park to Seven Sisters Road

Start point: 51.5751 lat, -0.1014 long
End point: 51.5742 lat, -0.0868 long

Keep ahead on the wide surfaced path between railings, with the New River visible once again (through the railings to the right) and the softball pitches across to the left. Finsbury Park was the first of the great London parks laid out in the Victorian era. Opened in 1869, the park covers 110 acres of formal gardens, sports fields, an arboretum and play areas. The park later became an established music venue and has hosted concerts by Jimi Hendrix (1967), Bob Dylan (1993) and Oasis (2002).

Cross right over the bridge and then take the first left, to follow the avenue lined with plane trees and the New River down to the left. When you draw level with the zebra crossing, turn left down the surfaced path and follow this out though a gate to Green Lanes.

Cross over using the pedestrian crossing, turn left for a few yards then turn right through the green kissing gate to join the right-hand bank alongside the New River. Eventually you’ll emerge out to the next major road, Seven Sisters Road.

Seven Sisters Road to End
Seven Sisters Road to End

Start point: 51.5742 lat, -0.0868 long
End point: 51.5641 lat, -0.0923 long

You will need to cross over to join the path which continues directly opposite. The safest way to do this is to turn left for a few yards to use the pelican and zebra crossings to cross the road junction and then rejoin the New River Path. The riverside path now swings right and you’ll emerge via a kissing gate and flight of steps to a small bridge.

Take the path directly opposite, through the kissing gate and continuing on the grass bank. Note: A pair of swans nest on this stretch every year, so take care with dogs as the male swan takes his security role very seriously! You’ll pass a pretty small brick sluice house and then the views will open up across to the left over the East Reservoir.

Two reservoirs were constructed here in the early 1830s, fed by the New River, to meet the rising demands for water in London. The engineer, William Chadwell Mylne, lined the banks with bricks from the recently demolished London Bridge to stop the banks washing away in high winds. Today the New River flows only into this reservoir, the East Reservoir, where it is stored and then piped to Walthamstow for treatment. In 2016 the East Reservoir was opened to the public as a nature reserve, Woodberry Wetlands. It is worth a detour if you have the time (although no dogs are allowed into the reserve).

You’ll emerge to Lordship Road, cross over, turn right for a few paces and then turn left onto the surfaced path with Woodberry Park apartments to the right. You’ll soon pass some impressive water features of Woodberry Park on the right. On the left you’ll see the West Reservoir. This reservoir, no longer required as part of the water supply system, has been developed into a water sports lake.

Continue on the path which hugs the New River channel to the left. The path finally leads you past the water sports centre, a former pump house. Beyond the centre, you’ll emerge via a footbridge and kissing gate to a small access road with the impressive former Castle Pumping Station directly opposite. Built in 1855, the distinctive building is adorned with turrets and towers. Today it is in use as a dedicated climbing centre.

Turn right and come out through the vehicle gates to reach a T-junction with Green Lanes. Turn left, passing in front of the castle and its outdoor climbing structures. Continue just as far as the traffic lights at the crossroads with Lordship Park to the left and Brownswood Road to the right. This marks the end of this fifth section of the New River Path.

If you wish to make your way to Finsbury Park Rail Station (about a one mile walk), turn right along Brownswood Road. Follow it all the way to the end (negotiating a couple of double bends along the way). At the T-junction with Blackstock Road, turn right and follow this all the way to the end. Turn left along Seven Sisters Road and after a short distance you’ll come to the rail station on the right.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author thameswater and may not be reproduced without permission.

2 comments for "New River Path Part Five: Alexandra Palace to Stoke Newington"

Tried this walk on Thursday 3rd September. Instructions were clear and accurate up to the last section from Seven Sisters Road where the kissing gate to the path was padlocked shut. There was no sign or indication as to why it was locked. It was early evening - is there a "closing time"? Did not encounter any other barriers slog the way.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thank you for reporting this problem, we will contact Thames Water (the path owner) to see if we can find out why this section of the path was locked.

THAMES WATER RESPONSE: Sorry you were not able to use this section of the New River Path. Sections of the New River are closed for operational work from time-to-time and the public stopped from going into the section. For small jobs like removing furniture and fly-tipping it could be closed for a short period of time and a notice not necessarily put up.

By joeom on 10 Sep 2015

The East Reservoir is now the Woodberry Wetlands, a nature and birdlife reserve, opened by Sir David Attenborough in 2016, and worth a detour.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thank you for letting us know, we have updated the guide.

By Kate3Grant on 16 Jan 2017

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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