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Cllr Cathy Brennan: ‘The Parkland Walk is an asset for the whole community’

Cathy Brennan, Labour councillor for Muswell Hill, on the future of one of Haringey’s vital green spaces

Haringey parks strategy

The Parkland Walk is a wonderful natural asset and plays a noteworthy part in greening our borough. It is owned by Haringey Council and runs for 4.5 miles along the route of a disused railway line, from Finsbury Park to Highgate, and then, after avoiding a dangerous tunnel, picks up again to run from Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill to the Grove in Alexandra Park. Designated as a local nature reserve, it provides a little pocket of countryside in our urban environment, frequented by joggers, dog walkers, ramblers, families and careful cyclists.

The Friends of the Parkland Walk volunteers work hard alongside the council to preserve a rural feeling of undisturbed nature, spaces round pathways deliberately mimicking an untouched wilderness, so that ramblers can imagine that they are strolling through the countryside, while still in the centre of London.

The Parkland Walk local nature reserve is valued for its biodiversity, supporting a wide range of habitats and wildlife. At the northern end of Parkland Walk south, near Holmesdale Road, the Friends have constructed a wildlife trail with a natural pond, fed from rainwater collected from the roof of the helpful owner of a neighbouring garage. Here, newts, frogs and water insects are encouraged to flourish. In this nature trail, children can explore bug hotels – carefully planned piles of wood set up as insect homes. Along the walk, there are colourful information plaques explaining the wildlife that can be nurtured. Fifty species of birds have been sighted on the walk. There is information on how to encourage hedgehogs, with suggestions to create small, ground-level holes in garden fences to enable hedgehogs to move freely. There are plaques on butterflies, bats, nettles, and more – and plans for more rainwater-fed ponds to be created.

The Parkland Walk is an asset for the whole community, where children can learn about the countryside without having to travel. In Haringey, both the council and residents highly value our green spaces. We are living in a climate emergency and we are doing all we can to combat this dire situation. In these circumstances, our natural habitat is fundamentally important to us all. By working to cherish our green spaces, we are doing more than just enhancing the landscape around us: we are safeguarding the lives of future generations and those living in the countries already ravished by climate change. I am pleased that the council has shown its commitment to preserving our green spaces by trebling our number of expert tree officers, pledging that all new streets will be tree-lined and, by 2030, planting 10,000 more trees, working towards 30% tree canopy coverage throughout the borough, while retaining and protecting mature trees wherever possible.

Of course, we are all aware that we live in straitened times, and the council’s finances must first and foremost be used to help those who are most in need of support. The council’s budget is being stretched to its utmost. In this financial climate, I for one am delighted that we are managing to fund the maintenance and support of places such as this, including ensuring that the old railway bridges are safe. It is to be hoped that plans to extend green pathways to the Lea Valley in the east of the borough will come into fruition too.