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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Anyone who walks with me will know that I can turn any walk into a nature walk (which I'm not sure is an admirable trait or just plain annoying). I'm also a great advocate of the "Notice Nature" school of thought.

We have a tendency to overlook the commonplace, the everyday and abundant in favour of the unusual flora and fauna or the awe-inspiring landscape.

I would argue that once you 're-tune' your gaze to see everything as remarkable, you'll experience awe everywhere and, as Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, says,

“It’s hard to think of a single thing that you can do for your mind and body that’s better than a little dose of awe...”

So a short meander up the New River path, which I often see people stride up in what feels like seconds, can, with me, become a very slow wander that is an excuse for a bit of nature study (as I said, fun or annoying depending on who you ask!).  

The New River path is full of wonders and pleasures at the moment, even after Thames Water gave it a bit of a shearing recently. 

We were greeted by the path's popular resident heron who regarded us with very little interest. Herons, for me, are like encounters with mini dinosaurs, especially if you have been around when they take off, pure pterodactyl.

A big crop of feverfew and the beginnings of some hedge woundwort, once popular as a way of healing wounds despite its rather unpleasant smell festoon the water's edge.

White is the main colour of the hedgerow at present, with some splashes of pink from mallow.

The clover is beautiful in the grass (get up close and really look at it) and the last of the elderflowers offer a glorious scent. The pretty white flowers of the Common Hogweed are now appearing (not to be confused with its cousin from the Caucasus region, Giant Hogweed which is enormous, magnificent and definitely not to be messed with) and are a magnet for insects.  

Down at your feet, and clinging to bricks, the dominant colour is yellow with cinquefoils, buttercups, hedge mustards and ragwort springing up. Always check ragwort for the stripy caterpillars of the cinnabar moth which feed on ragwort, although I've not seen them in anything like the numbers I used to. A sign of the times perhaps?  

As we walked, the usual coots, ducks and moorhens were supplemented by the slow flight of a little egret, no doubt using the New River to navigate its way to Woodberry Wetlands where they are an increasingly common sight. 

Time to head back but not before we'd stopped to admire and sniff a great clump of pineapple weed, edible but given the large number of dogs that use the route probably not a good idea to nibble en route.

This tiny stretch of blue space never fails to delight in any season. Next time you wander that way, stop and smell...the..er... pineapple weed and admire the tenaciousness of urban nature.

Tags for Forum Posts: New River Path, nature notes, notice nature

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Really enjoyed this, thank you for the lovely reminder to slow down and appreciate the little things :) 

Thanks for this Liz.  I haven't seen the stripey caterpillar but here is a cinnabar moth:

I didn't know its relationship with ragwort but there is quite a variety of plants in what we are pleased to call our grass!

Look for these on your ragwort

Could you tell me where this is please

The bit of the New River Liz has shown is the 'New Cut' in Harringay. It can be part of a nice circular walk from just near your house. Something like ninety percent of the walk is off-road, through green space. Here's a map I did for a friend a few years back. I’ve added a blue marker to indicate the 'New Cut", just below the word 'Hornsey'.

Or, direct link to map on Google Maps - https://www.google.com/maps/1IF9KivWp7c67Y5IU5CqmKMu30jb70R

Thanks for sharing this map Hugh. We like this walk and it is always hard to describe.

Pure delight. Thank you Liz :) 

What a lovely account. Many thanks for this and the photos.

If you walk down there this week, you'll find a host of wonderful fairy like common blue damselflies and the odd Emperor dragonfly cruising the water, a fearsome predator with an almost 100% success rate. This newly minted (probably) female rose from the riverside and spent a few minutes on my hand before wobbling off to find a mate. She's so new that her full colouring isn't showing yet

When is the walk?


There's not a formal walk. The stretch is open 24/7 and you can access it via Wightman Road, entrance between Hewitt and Allison. It comes out near Hornsey station. It's only short although very rich. Or you can combine it with Hugh's suggested walk higher up the thread.

Thanks for the information. 



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