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New River Path Part Six: Stoke Newington to Islington

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New River Path Part Six: Stoke Newington to Islington
Author: thameswater, Published: 19 Mar 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 New River Path Part Six Stoke Newington to Islingtonstar1 New River Path Part Six Stoke Newington to Islingtonstar1 New River Path Part Six Stoke Newington to Islingtonstar1 New River Path Part Six Stoke Newington to Islingtonstar0 New River Path Part Six Stoke Newington to Islington
London, Stoke Newington
Walk Type: River or lakeside
New River Path Part Six: Stoke Newington to Islington
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot New River Path Part Six Stoke Newington to Islington
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A 3 mile linear walk along the sixth and final stretch of the New River in London. This section is known as the heritage section and takes in several beautiful parks and pretty streets to reach the New River Head visitor information point. The route follows the historic, but now truncated, New River course although some sections of the water channel are still evident. 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 paved paths/pavements all of which are a good width. You will need to negotiate several gates 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. Dogs are welcome in all the parks within the route. The return leg can be completed by train (see the ‘Getting there’ section for details). Approximate time 1.5 hours (plus extra time for the walk to/from the stations 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 the point where the A105 Green Lanes crosses the B105 (Brownswood Road and Lordship Park), which is less than a mile’s walk from Finsbury Park Rail Station. The end point is at the New River Head on Myddelton Passage in Islington (close to Sadler’s Wells). From here it is less than a mile’s walk to Kings Cross. The two stations are on the same line and the train journey takes just 5 minutes.

To reach the start point from Finsbury Park Rail Station, turn left along the A503 Seven Sisters Road. Turn right into the A1201 Blackstock Road and follow this for some distance until you reach the traffic lights at the junction with Monsell Road (to the right) and Brownswood Road (to the left). Turn left here and follow Brownswood Road though a couple of double bends then for a straight stretch until you reach the crossroads with the A105 Green Lanes. This junction is the start point for the walk.

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Walk Sections

Start to Petherton Road
Start to Petherton Road

Start point: 51.564 lat, -0.0924 long
End point: 51.5556 lat, -0.0903 long

The walk starts from the junction between the A105 Green Lanes and the B105 (Brownswood Road and Lordship Park). Directions to this point from Finsbury Park Rail Station can be found in the ‘Getting there’ section of this guide.

Standing on the crossroads facing south (with Brownswood Road to the right and Lordship Park road to the left) walk ahead to continue south along Green Lanes. Cross over the side road, Greenway Close, and a few paces later turn left into Clissold Park. At the small junction of paths, keep straight ahead onto the wide tarmac path which is lined with benches each side, heading for the church spire. As you pass between the benches you’ll notice that the iron supports were cast especially for the park, being adorned with the park’s name and gold lions as hand rests.

Clissold Park covers 54 acres and includes a wide range of tree species. 2012 saw the completion of a major restoration project funded by Hackney Council and the lottery, which included the restoration of Clissold House, a Grade II listed mansion dating back to the 1790s. The house is home to the park’s cafe and several rooms available for private hire.

Keep ahead until you reach the next junction of paths, with Clissold House directly ahead. Turn sharp right here, signed for the animal enclosures and follow the path with the historic New River channel running on the left. From the time the New River was completed (in the 1600s) until it was later straightened and piped (in the 1860s), it flowed through an open channel in Clissold Park. Today, this water-filled loop still identifies the river’s original course.

On the far banks of the river you’ll see the animal enclosures holding deer, goats and chickens. Ignore the first bridge off to the left, then follow the main path as it swings left over the second bridge. Just before you cross take note of the emblem on the bridge. Take a careful look at the picture and the Latin inscription ‘Et Plui Super Unam Civitatem’ and see if you can guess its meaning – all will be revealed later!

At the far side of the bridge turn right and then take the first left. You’ll come to a small circle with a memorial water fountain at its centre. Keep ahead and you’ll emerge out of the park alongside the crossroads between Stoke Newington Church Street and Green Lanes. Keep ahead, heading south along Green Lanes and use the pedestrian crossing to swap to the right-hand pavement. As the main road swings left, keep straight ahead into Petherton Road.

Petherton Road to New River Gardens
Petherton Road to New River Gardens

Start point: 51.5556 lat, -0.0903 long
End point: 51.5471 lat, -0.0922 long

Join the path which runs down the middle of the green space along the centre of the road. Originally the New River flowed openly through the middle of Petherton Road.

This is a classic road that demonstrates London’s rich history. On the right you’ll see the impressive large town houses with the tiny windows of the former servants’ quarters peeping out at the top. To the left you’ll see the parades that would have once housed premises of merchants. On the left you’ll pass the narrow gated Canonbury Mews, which would have housed the horses used to draw the grand carriages of the time.

As you emerge from the green space you’ll come to a mini-roundabout. Use the right-hand pavement to go straight ahead, continuing along Petherton Road. At the next mini-roundabout, go ahead again into Wallace Road and soon you’ll pass Canonbury overground station on the right.

At the end of Wallace Road you’ll come to a T-junction, cross left (over Wallace Road) and then right (over St Paul’s Road) to reach the gate opposite. Go through this to join the start of the tarmac path through New River Gardens.

New River Gardens to Canonbury Gardens
New River Gardens to Canonbury Gardens

Start point: 51.5471 lat, -0.0922 long
End point: 51.5417 lat, -0.098 long

Follow the tarmac path with the pretty water course running on the right. The water course is a reminder of the route of the original New River, although today is just an ornamental feature. The water course has a thriving population of frogs so keep your eyes peeled and see if you can spot one. Further along the path leads you over a wooden bridge with a fountain to the left and further still it leads you over the water course via a stone bridge. You’ll emerge through the gate into Willow Bridge Road.

Turn left and then immediately right where you’ll see the tarmac path continuing through the next section of New River Gardens. The path leads you around an old circular brick kiosk and you’ll emerge out through the gate onto Canonbury Grove. Keep right then use the zebra crossings to cross the main road (Canonbury Road). Go through the large staggered barrier into the next section of open space, Canonbury Gardens.

Canonbury Gardens to Colebrooke Row
Canonbury Gardens to Colebrooke Row

Start point: 51.5417 lat, -0.098 long
End point: 51.5366 lat, -0.1014 long

Follow the straight tarmac path and as you emerge from this stretch, take the right-hand fork along Astey’s Row. Immediately after the playgrounds on the right, turn right then left to rejoin the path through the gardens, Astey’s Row Rock Garden.

You will emerge to a section of concrete that has a map of the New River’s course etched within it. As you pass through the gate look at the concrete surface to the right and you’ll see an inscription from the New River Company seal etched here. The seal of the company depicted the hand of providence bestowing rain upon the city and its Latin motto translates as ‘and I rained upon one city’. The etching in the surface here states ‘as the hand of providence emerges from the clouds it throws rain upon the city of London’.

Fork left down the steps and you’ll reach a T-junction with Essex Road. Turn right along this for some distance. When you draw level with the Old Queens Head on the left, use the pedestrian crossing to swap to the left-hand pavement. Soon after, turn left into Colebrooke Row.

Colebrooke Row to End
Colebrooke Row to End

Start point: 51.5366 lat, -0.1014 long
End point: 51.529 lat, -0.1084 long

Follow the road as it swings right and at the small crossroads go straight ahead to continue on Colebrooke Row. Some way in you’ll be able to join the paved path which runs through Colebrooke Row Gardens, another stretch of rock gardens. As you are forced to emerge to Duncan Terrace, swing hard left and then right to continue on the path now through Duncan Terrace Gardens. The large kerbstones to the left of this path are etched with beautiful roses.

At the end, cross over City Road using the pedestrian crossing ahead and you’ll pass the ornate Dalby House on the left. Keep left for a few paces then cross right over the next road and take Owen Street directly opposite (passing a sixth form college on the left). Follow Owen Street ahead to reach a junction with the A1. Go ahead over the pedestrian crossing and turn left and then right into Chadwell Street. Take the first left down Arlington Way. On the left you’ll come to Sadler’s Wells. Opposite Sadler’s Wells (immediately after the pub, Shakespeare’s Head), fork right down the small alleyway and then keep ahead along Myddelton Passage, Sir Hugh Myddelton being the first Governor of the New River Company.

Take the last metal gate on the left which leads you into the New River Head visitor information point, the end of your walk. Here you’ll find lots of information about the history, construction, operation and conservation of the New River. This site is of national historic importance having been in continuous use for the provision of public water supply for nearly 400 years. Originally the terminus of the New River, the site held a small reservoir from which water was piped to houses. In 1946 the water supply was truncated and today the New River supply ends at the East Reservoir in Stoke Newington. However, the site still retains its association with London’s water supply through the London Ring Main and the Rising Groundwater Scheme.

Take time to enjoy the views across the site. The Nautilus House garden (in front of you) is accessible to the public by the other gate off Myddelton Passage (although dogs are not allowed in here). Across to the right is the original pump house dating from 1768. The large square building directly ahead is the 1919 New River Head Building which, until 1993, was Thames Water offices.

To continue your journey by public transport you have two choices. The nearest tube station is Angel (just a 10 minute walk away) and the nearest rail station is Kings Cross (just less than a mile away – 20 minutes). Leave the gate from the visitor point and walk straight ahead up the road, passing St Mark’s Church on the right. You will emerge to a T-junction with the A501 Pentonville Road. To reach Angel tube station turn right along Pentonville Road and then turn left onto the A1 (you’ll see Angel on the right). To reach Kings Cross, turn left along Pentonville Road and after about half a mile you’ll come to the station on the right. Trains from Kings Cross to Finsbury Park run regularly and the journey takes just 5 minutes.

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


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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