Almost twenty years in NW5, and the area still springs surprises. Today I went along to an open day at a nature reserve I didn't know existed. It's squeezed beside the railway line at Gospel Oak - at the back of Mortimer Terrace, a development which is itself hidden away off Wesleyan Terrace, at the back of the Southampton Arms on Highgate Road. Hope you've got that?!!
It's a handful of acres, wooded, on a sloping railway embankment. There's a pond - which a couple of local primary schools visit regularly. And a remarkable shed - a water capture mechanism - and a bit of a clearing where volunteers and visitors gathered on this glorious summer Sunday.
An aerial photo of the Mortimer Terrace nature reserve, which is just to the north of the railway lines. The big building in the middle is Heathview, a 1930s block of flats which is now a housing co-op. On the other side of Gordon House Road is Kwikfit. Gospel Oak station is just out of shot to the left. You can just see part of Mortimer Terrace development on the upper right.
The land is owned by a construction company, but they have said they are withdrawing the licence in August - though given that there's nothing even approaching vehicular access, it's difficult to see what they could do with the site. The London Wildlife Trust has said it hasn't the resources to continue to support this small, but splendid, nature reserve. So its future is in doubt.
The volunteers and those who live near by are clearly determined to save this special, hidden spot - let's hope they succeed.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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