Thursday, October 20, 2011

New River Walk - Canonbury's (Islington) secret walk

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Recently, I had a bit of time on my hands and I took the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood. As I turned into the more residential part of Canonbury, I stumbled across the New River Walk.

That's one thing I really appreciate about London. There're still pockets all over the city that dated way back. According to an information board strategically installed at its entrance, New River Walk goes all the way back to 1613. The brainchild of Sir Hugh Myddelton, whose stone statue now stands at the southern tip of Islington Green (the green patch in front of Waterstone). The waterway was constructed to bring fresh drinking water from River Lea from Amwell Springs into London itself.

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Centuries later, even though the river lies unused, parts of it have been covered over by roads and pavements while portions of it still lay bare and have been converted to public walkways. New River Walk is just one of the many. Algae now covered almos the entire length of New River Walk, which shows how stagnant the water is. A small raft of ducks calls it home and can be seen wading up and down the stretch of water, occasionally standing on a submerged pipe that runs along the riverbed.

But it's not just the river itself for Canonbury itself makes for a pleasant walk when weather permits. Starting from Canonbury Park, the curiously spilt garden square, you can walk towards Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art and The Canonbury and make a right onto Alwyne Place where a line of houses sheltered with thick foliage awaits. Make a left along Alwyne Road before hitting onto New River Walk itself on the right along Willow Bridge Road. Emerge at St Paul's Road and then turn back on to Canonbury Park South.

Set aside an hour for the walk. Better still, do that on a late cool crisp Sunday morning before pampering yourself with a Sunday roast at The Canonbury. It seldom gets better than that.

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