It’s no secret that the capital is filled with plenty of brilliant walks. Ready to explore London’s Parkland Walk? Here’s everything you need to know before you go.
There’s no need to travel far and wide for a good walk in London– this part nature reserve, part trail lets you really appreciate the gorgeous British countryside whilst still in North London.
Who would’ve thought it?
Discover the Best of Parkland Walk
The Wildlife Trail
Open between 9am and 6:30pm everyday, venturing out onto the Wildlife Trail is the best way to spot some of the adorable animals that populate the nature reserve. The path leads you around a series of habitats (don’t worry, there’s lots of signage to introduce each area/species).
Alongside wildflowers, flora, and fauna, there’s plenty of insects and amphibians to say hello to – especially around the pond. Butterflies and birds are also very common, with the likes of Blue Tits and Bullfinches in abundance zipping through the air.
And if you’re really lucky, you might be able to spot the pair of ducks who like to visit the pond throughout the day.
The Chewing Gum Trail
If you pay very close attention to the signposts, you might just notice miniature artworks dotted around the Parkland Walk – these are no accidents. They are, in fact, the works of Ben Wilson (a.k.a The Chewing Gum Man).
Discarded chewing gum is totally transformed into something special; these tiny artworks depict the history and wildlife found on the walk. Bring the kids along and get them to help you spot them along the trail.
You can find a map for the art trail here.
Not far from the abandoned Crouch End train platforms, underneath eerie railway arches, sits a rather peculiar (and very creepy) sculpture of a Spriggan.
Confused? We thought you might be. These sprites are famous in Cornish folklore, known for being a little bit cheeky – they love stealing, FYI – and for having a part-time job as bodyguards for fairies.
But why on earth did she decide to put a Spriggan in London? Well, it has something to do with the urban legend of the “Goat Man” who was believed to have haunted the walk during the 70s and 80s. These tales led to many children daring to take on the walk alone to see if they would come face to face with the ghost.
The council wanted to create a sculpture trail along the path, and so Marilyn Collins was brought onboard. She was influenced by the folk tale and decided a Spriggan would be the best way to commemorate it. Though, only one sculpture was ever completed.
It’s also thought that this goat-myth was the inspiration between Stephen King’s short story, Crouch End.
History of Parkland Walk
Situated in an area known as the Northern Heights thanks to its hilly nature, the Parkland Walk stretches all the way from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace.
The main road that previously connected London to York and Edinburgh passed through this hilly area – while many of these tracks are now disused, the abandoned arches make for an interesting section of the walk.
Parkland Walk as we know it today opened in 1984 – though it wasn’t declared a nature reserve until 1990. Towards the end of the 80s, the reserve was threatened with a plan to build a dual carriageway along the walk – this was met with fierce opposition by the Friends of the Parkland Walk and plans were soon scrapped.
For the first couple of years after it opened, the reserve and its habitats were left well alone so nature could do its thing. Ever since then, volunteers have been helping to protect nature and keep things running smoothly.
Parkland Walk is generally split into two sections: the northern part that starts in Cranley Gardens and carries on until Muswell Hill, and the southern trail extends for 3km between Holmesdale Road and Finsbury Park.
If you fancy tackling both parts of the trail (we really recommend doing this), it can take a few hours to take in all the sights.
Parkland Walk: Practical Information and Map