The Parkland Walk is a 7.2km (4.5m) linear green walkway in north London. It follows part of the course of a disused railway that once ran from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace via Stroud Green, Crouch End, Highgate and Muswell Hill. It is London’s longest Local Nature Reserve and a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. The walk lies mainly in the London Borough of Haringey but passes through a corner of the London Borough of Islington.

Address (Finsbury Park end of walk): Oxford Road, London N4 3EY (Map; OS grid reference TQ313873)

History Edit

In 1867 the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway constructed a line from Finsbury Park to Edgware, but before it was opened it was bought by the larger Great Northern Railway. It was initially a single track line but was doubled in 1870. A branch to Muswell Hill and Alexandra Palace was opened in 1874.

Plans to incorporate the line into the London Underground system were published in 1930, but work was stopped by the 1939-45 war and the plan was abandoned. After the war passenger trains continued to run on the line until 1954, when the service was reduced to freight haulage and tube trains. The spurs from Highgate to Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace were finally closed in 1970. Tracks and infrastructure were removed and most of the platforms and station buildings demolished.

The Parkland Walk was officially opened in 1984 following extensive re-surfacing and improvements to access. It was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 1990.

Outline of the route Edit

At the Finsbury Park end the route starts from the western side of the existing East Coast Main Line beside a foot overbridge that gives access from the eastern end of Oxford Road to the Finsbury Park open space itself. The route rises on an embankment overlooking the back gardens of the Victorian suburban houses. The route then bridges Upper Tollington Park before crossing Stapleton Hall Road at a point where the Gospel Oak to Barking rail route also passes beneath the road. The station building of Stroud Green station still survives, but there are no traces of the trackside buildings. The embankment then gives way to a cutting as the land rises north-westwards. The route continues beneath overbridges carrying Mount Pleasant Villas, Mount View Road, and Crouch Hill. After Crouch Hill part of the trackbed is impinged on by a community building, beyond which is a foot overbridge. At this point the still intact but partly overgrown platforms of Crouch End Station remain, after which the route passes under the site of the former station building and Crouch End Hill.

Beyond this the cutting opens out on the northern side as the route skirts a hill, parallel to Hornsey Lane, where blocks of flats have been built. The route bridges Stanhope Road on a footbridge, which replaces the original structure. The route continues on an embankment to a brick-built bridge over Northwood Road, where traffic below can only pass through one direction at a time. The surrounding ground rises rapidly and the route becomes a cutting at the end of which the portals of the southern pair of Highgate tunnels come into view. Vestiges of line-side electrical equipment for the planned 1930s electrification of the line and part of the structure of the old Highgate station are visible through the tunnels. The main route ends here.

A further shorter section of the walk begins along Muswell Hill Road, just beyond Cranley Gardens, where the road overbridge crosses the old line. On the left (western) side of the road a primary school completely occupies the site of the former Cranley Gardens Station and the old trackbed. The walk continues opposite via steps down to the trackbed towards Alexandra Palace, which skirts a hill. The span of the 17-arch viaduct over St James's Lane gives a view eastwards and southwards over London. The route ends with a reconstructed overbridge under Muswell Hill itself. At this point another primary school has been built on the trackbed. Further remains of the rail route can be seen in Alexandra Park.

Habitat Edit

No trees were allowed to grow close to the track when the railway was operational but a wide range of trees has grown up over the past 50 years, most of them arriving naturally. They include oak, ash, birch, hawthorn, cherry, apple, holly, rowan, sycamore and yew. A few additional species have been planted — field maple, hazel, black Italian poplar and white poplar. More than 300 species of wild flower have been recorded on the Parkland Walk, ranging from commonplace to exotic and including Michaelmas daisy, golden rod, buddleia and Guernsey fleabane.

Further information needed, please

Species Edit


More than 60 species of bird have been seen along the walk and many breed here.

Further information needed, please

Other vertebrates

Foxes are plentiful in the area and hedgehogs feed in the gardens of adjacent homes. Muntjac are seen occasionally. A colony of slow-worms thrive along the grassy embankment. The walk is considered an important site for bats in the London context, providing important foraging habitat and an excellent dark commuting route. A significant bat roost exists in the vicinity.

Further information needed, please


More than 20 species of butterfly have been recorded at the site.

Further information needed, please

Practicalities Edit


To reach the main stretch of The Parkland Walk by London Underground, take either the Victoria Line or Piccadilly Line to Finsbury Park or the Northern Line to Highgate. Finsbury Park Station is also served by National Rail suburban services from Moorgate and Kings Cross.

Bus routes servicing Finsbury Park include 4, 19, 29, 106, 153, 210, 236, 253, 254, 259, W3 and W7. Buses passing Highgate Station include 43, 134, 143, 234, 263 and 603


There is free access to the walk at any time, although after dark it is unwise to go alone.


There are no facilities on the walk itself, but there are shops and pubs near Highgate and Finsbury Park stations. There are park cafes in the Finsbury Park open space and in Highgate Wood.

If you are familiar with the site, please correct, expand and/or update the information given here.

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