The Islington Spur Walk – One of London’s Best Kept Secrets

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London is full of fascinating and scenic places to see and visit. However there are many secret places in London that tourists and even the majority of Londoners are unaware of. This book reveals many of the secrets of London that deserve to be uncovered and explored.

The Islington Spur Walk

The fourth and most easterly spur, the Islington spur, is aligned in a more southeasterly direction than its neighbours. Running away from Highgate down Dartmouth Park Road, it forms a saddle in the vicinity of Tufnell Park Underground Station. Here the railway line tunnels through in the Cathcart Hill/Spencer Rise area. The spur then rises again – its crest followed by Brecknock Road – to Caledonian Park (48 metres/158 feet).

Here the old clocktower of the Caledonian market (1855-1939) forms a landmark visible for miles around. Headwaters of the rivers on either side of the spur once again cut back here, creating another narrow saddle or col, and this time it is the east coast main line from King’s Cross that seizes the tunnelling opportunity. By contrast, the Caledonian Road bravely climbs over the top.

The spur turns east here for about 1 kilometre (half a mile) and then, in the Barnsbury Street area of Islington, resumes its southerly drift for over 1.6 kilometres (1 mile), dropping less than 6 metres (20 feet) over the whole of this distance. The drop to the lower terrace begins at Claremont Square on Pentonville Road. This is where we take the second of our spur walks.

This circular walk through some of the most elegant but least-known streets and squares in London explores both a prominent snout on the spur and the edge of the 30 metre (100 foot) terrace. It includes a spectacular view of the BT Tower and, at its furthest point, an excellent pub called the Albion.

START/FINISH: Angel Underground (Northern Line)

LENGTH: 3 km (2 miles)

TIME: 1 1⁄2 hours

REFRESHMENTS: The Albion pub; otherwise all manner of places around Angel Underground Station at the start/finish point

SIGHTS: Camden Passage antiques market (Wednesdays and Saturdays) is literally within a stone’s throw of Angel Underground Station

NOTE: The views are mainly to the west, so the walk is best done in the morning with the sun behind you

Turn left out of Angel Underground Station and walk down to the crossroads. Cross to the right and stand on the corner in front of the Co-operative Bank. You are not quite on the snout of the spur here (the ground rises up to it on the right), but looking left you can see the fall-away to the east and ahead down St John Street you can see the ground level beginning to descend to the 15 metre (50 foot) terrace level of the City.

On a bicycle you can freewheel from here virtually all the way to Smithfield Market, a distance of almost 1.6 kilometres (1 mile). Cross over Pentonville Road and walk down the right-hand side of St John Street. At Chadwell Street turn right. In Myddelton Square, go left round St Mark’s Church and continue on into River Street. All the time the ground is steadily sloping downhill to the left

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