It looks like a rural idyll. But this is London - and fairly central too.
The New River opened in 1613 to bring drinking water from Hertfordshire to the growing city - it ended at New River Head near Sadlers Wells in Clerkenwell. The 'river' doesn't now extend beyond Stoke Newington, though you can follow the path it once took through Islington.
Some stretches of the New River are now walkable - and this is a particularly lovely stroll, accessing the New River at Green Lanes, opposite Finsbury Park, and walking alongside (apart from a fairly run-for-your-life crossing of Seven Sisters Road) as it enters the East Reservoir which is now the wonderful Woodberry Wetlands.
The New River is shallow and doesn't have much of a flow, but it is a haven for wildlife. Above all, coots - and my, baby coots make quite a racket ...
There are heron and grebe at the Wetlands, and along the New River I came across this cormorant, perhaps a juvenile, who was entirely undisturbed by the procession of pedestrians on the other side of the waterway. And then there are the swans -
The Woodberry Wetlands were opened to the public in 2016. It covers eleven acres, including the more easterly of two reservoirs constructed in 1833 to store water brought in to London by the New River.
As well as gorgeous views over the water and reed beds, there's also a cafe open seven days a week which does good sandwiches and snacks, which you can eat on the banks of the water.
From these wetlands, you can continue along the New River, skirting the West reservoir - now for water spots - coming back out on Green Lanes by the Stoke Newington Pumping Station, built in the 1850s in the style of a medieval castle and now a climbing centre. But that's for another post ...
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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