diamond geezer

 Monday, August 11, 2014

Returning to my series visiting the highest point in each London borough, here's a run of four across the northern edge of Zone 2.

LONDON BOROUGH TOPS
Hackney: Manor House

39 metres (29th out of 33) [map] [map]


Another east London borough, another lowly summit. Not that Hackney's exactly flat. Its northeastern edge rises fairly sharply from the Lea, and then there's Stamford Hill, of course. But the highest point in the borough is in the northwest corner, on the slopes of a peak that's actually in Haringey nextdoor, specifically within Finsbury Park. You can see Hackney's summit very clearly if you take the Piccadilly line to Manor House and emerge onto the broad street corner outside. Two arms of this crossroads head resolutely downhill, one south to Clissold Park, the other east towards Woodberry Down. But the other two, along the perimeter of the park, rise fractionally before starting their descent, and one of these minor bumps is the highest point in Hackney. The official list of London Borough Tops reckons it's the bump on the Seven Sisters Road, close to the Caribbean Community Centre and the lacklustre-looking Kent Hall Hotel. There are a fair few hotels in the vicinity, the large townhouses hereabouts seem to lend themselves, but in most cases the grand-sounding name looks more attractive than the reality. [3 photos]

My money, however, is on the highest point being a few yards along Green Lanes, roughly in line with the bus stop outside the tube station. The short row of shops on the Hackney side of the road consists of an off-licence, a taxi company, a betting shop and two kebab outlets, which is as near to stereotypical as any N4 parade gets. The big white house alongside looks like it used to be a hotel, the ornamental arched entrance out front has an Eastbourne seafront vibe, although the interior is now an awful lot of flats. Or you can have a pint at The Finsbury, the highest live music venue/pub in Hackney, although that's not necessarily a recommendation. There's more fun to be had beyond the iron railings in Haringey, under whose control the whole of Finsbury Park lies, with its flowerbeds and grassy spaces and avenues and tentative hilltop. The Park View Cafe in the Manor House corner looks somewhat twee from the front, with a fibreglass chef on sentry duty and three toadstools masquerading as table and chairs, although it's rather more inviting from the rear when the back wall comes down in decent weather. But that's just inside Haringey again, whereas Hackney's Borough Top's probably not somewhere you'd hang around for long.
by tube: Manor House   by bus: 29, 141, 253, 254, 259, 279, 341

LONDON BOROUGH TOPS
Islington: Highgate Hill

100 metres (15th out of 33) [map] [map]


My journey to the top of Islington involved a bus ride up the Holloway Road to Archway, and thence up Highgate Hill. It's a relentless ascent, with barely a dip on the way, following the Great North Road on its escape from the centre of town. At Archway the A1 veers off to follow a 200 year-old cutting through the hillside, while the old route climbs past the Whittingtons (Hospital and Stone). On and on it climbs, eventually more than triple the elevation of Hackney's summit. But for Islington's purposes the climb runs out on the 100 metre contour, at the steeply-slanted junction with Hornsey Lane, where Camden and Haringey take over the remainder of the ascent. The divide is marked by three fine-roofed landmarks, one with a tower, one with a spire and the other with domes. The tower marks Linden Mansions, a part-whimsical turn of the century apartment block, the spire tops the Old Crown pub, long a place for travellers to rest, while the twin domes belong to St Joseph's RC Church, a listed Romanesque/Byzantine hybrid. [4 photos]

This yellow box junction is the official Borough Top, but I was tempted to walk east along Hornsey Lane towards another famous landmark. The road beyond the Georgian townhouses definitely dipped, but then rose again, and from the pavement outside the nursing home it was impossible to be certain which end was higher. If the latter, then St Aloysius' College may be the highest building in Islington, its "Founded 1879" looking somewhat incongruous on the front of a bland 21st century fa├žade. On the opposite side of the road is a flat-topped reservoir, often a sign of a municipal highest point, but that's in Haringey again. The famous landmark is just round the bend, maybe a metre lower, the Hornsey Lane Bridge. Formerly an arched bridge after which the neighbourhood is named, the cast iron replacement is one of the most notorious suicide spots in London. Its barbed metal rails wouldn't prevent a determined descent, although the view down the dual carriageway just might. From the Cheesegrater to the Shard, with the Gherkin and the Barbican between, the City's skyscrapers line up almost one by one. Best turn again, and walk away.
by tube: Archway   by bus: 143, 210, 271, W5

LONDON BOROUGH TOPS
Haringey: Highgate Village

116 metres (9th out of 33) [map] [map]


Highgate Hill continues to rise for half a kilometre beyond the Islington border. It climbs past lovely Waterlow Park, past the big phone mast on Bisham Gardens, up to the heart of chichi Highgate Village. Here stationers and old school butchers nudge up to jewellers and chocolatiers, an almost precise antithesis to Hackney's Manor House parade. The shop that sells lottery tickets also does organic groceries, and the cupcakes in the pantry window have a few more sparkles than elsewhere. It's all really rather pleasant, if residentially unattainable. At the mini-roundabout where the turnpike once bent north is a tiny little florists, its potted blooms dwarfed by The Gatehouse, a well-disguised Wetherspoons in Tudorbethan style. More to Highgate's taste is the Red Lion and Sun on North Road, more gastro than boozer, alongside a very retro Total garage with a row of three pumps lined up outside. [3 photos]

Thanks to a topographical quirk, Haringey's the only north London borough whose highest point is on its southern border. So what's on the summit? That's long been requisitioned by Highgate School, or as it's more properly known Sir Roger Cholmeley's School at Highgate. Sir Roger established his charitable bequest in 1565, initially for the poor boys of the parish under a single teacher, but also offering up the chapel of ease to local residents. Considerable expansion took place later, and the enlarged brick chapel and most of the Big School buildings are a Victorian addition. It's the chapel that resides on Haringey's highest point, this and the surrounding graveyard with its weathered stones and the occasional obelisk. School's currently out for the summer, which helped when I wanted to take photos through the railings, but passing shoppers probably gave me enough funny looks anyway. To follow in my footsteps look out for the retro London Borough of Haringey sign at the top of Highgate Hill, complete with original 1965 'Eight Rays' logo before some branding team remoulded it.
by tube: Highgate   by bus: 143, 210, 214, 271

LONDON BOROUGH TOPS
Camden: Hampstead Heath

134 metres (6th out of 33) [map] [map]


Camden boasts some of the best hills in the capital, which is pretty impressive for a Inner London borough. Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill fall within its bounds, but they're only 60- and 90-something metres high respectively, which for this project's purposes is insufficient. Instead maximum elevation is reached atop Hampstead Heath on the crown of the Hampstead and Highgate massif, wherever precisely that might be. There is some debate. I'd have expected the peak to be around Whitestone Pond, a triangular water feature located above the headwaters of the Fleet and Westbourne rivers. Originally a dew pond used by thirsty horses, it was later enlarged to become a shallow decorative feature, and very recently done over with wetland plants and white granite edging. I'd say it's an improvement, even if the council did insist on relocating the bus stop 100 metres further away purely for aesthetic reasons. [4 photos]

Close by is another covered reservoir, below which residential Hampstead tumbles down the hillside, and whose raised lid is probably the highest surface hereabouts. But the official Borough Top is a little further away, in a less thrilling location, along the sandy ridge that leads from here to Highgate. That the road from Jack Straw's Castle to The Spaniards Inn is arrow straight should be a hint that it's entirely artificial, as is also evidenced by the slight drop from the embankment on either side. But the needs of traffic have won through, with a tree-lined single carriageway bordered by a segregated cycle path and joggers' pavement. Nearly halfway along is a bus stop where the 210 rarely picks up passengers, adjacent to a path down into the woods and the end of a private drive leading to someone's phenomenally expensive house. It's here (on a slight hump) that the Ordnance Survey have marked their spot height of 134 metres, not just the highest point in Camden but the highest point in Inner London. You can rest awhile to celebrate in the bus shelter, or on one of the neighbouring weatherbeaten green benches. But I wouldn't linger long - this is no scenic spot, and there are far better views to be had both on and from the Heath nearby.
by tube: Hampstead   by bus: 210, 268

» 36 photos of London Borough Tops (three each, so far)
» List and map of London Borough Tops
» Previous reports: Inner East; Outer Northeast


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sun 4 December (8am-10pm)
Tower Bridge fully closed
For one day only, cross the river by free passenger ferry!

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv