This week I took a field trip to a tucked away part of Harringay behind Sainsbury’s. Now known as the Harringay Stadium Slopes, it can be found at the bottom of Surrey Gardens, off Finsbury Park Avenue. It’s a green space that, although it suffers a fair bit of abuse from some of its human visitors, is nevertheless full of ecological interest.
A recent, and poorly executed tree felling, has opened up a space into which plant life is happily moving, as well as all the invertebrate life that inevitably follows. Notable plants include black medick, mugwort, red dead nettle, bramble, spurges, ragwort, wall rocket, camomile, willow herb and groundsel. It could, with just the minimum of trimming back bramble, become an interesting meadow area.
As we explored we saw bees and wasps, including a couple of common carder, a seven spot ladybird and, turning over a bit of old wood sunk into the ground, we discovered lovely grove snails hiding out. There’s a fair bit of old wood and stone on the site which are all valuable micro-habitats for invertebrates.
Some mature trees on the site have tree preservation orders, and include sycamore and ash, and the slopes are covered in ivy which provides excellent cover for birds and insects, as well as keeping the slopes safe from slides in wet weather.
The area that is more obviously open to the public on the corner of Finsbury Park Avenue is part of the same site and also has meadow potential, despite litter and other human abuse of it. As we watched, Large White butterflies flitted over nettles and grasses, small flies and more bees buzzed around the dandelions and hedge mustard.
Cathy from the newly formed Friends of Harringay Stadium Slopes showed me around and talked me through some of the more obvious problems they are currently tackling such as fly tipping, anti-social behaviour and poor land management by the current owners. It’s my understanding that the council, local councillors and the police are all trying to help with these things but it’s taking time.
Stephen Moss has written about such places as this, which he dubs “the accidental countryside” defined “as any place that was created originally for human use that wildlife either stayed in, or found and moved into later.” These places are valuable havens in the middle of urban areas and often harbour interesting discoveries, despite not being created for Nature. It’s my sense that Harringay Stadium Slopes is one such place, as long as it can be protected from the ever present threat of development and environmental abuse. To do this we must learn to see such places as not empty but teeming with life.
I wish the newly formed Friends group the best of luck in defending this exciting little corner of “accidental countryside”. I will be following their progress closely and we even talked about doing some Nature Education events there when such things become a little less difficult to manage.
I would hope that HOL members would also get behind them in all their future endeavours too. They would almost certainly welcome your help if you have any spare time.
You can read about and join the new Friends group here
All the more remarkable if you consider the site’s chequered past. (Glad that I was able to resurface the site’s SINC status before it was lost in the mists of time).
Sounds lovely , thanks for sharing.
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