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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A meander along the Dollis Valley

A bubbling stream, wild garlic and bluebells, an egret, a moorhen and the highest bridge in the London tube network - all discovered in the space of a couple of hours, along the Dollis Valley Greenwalk.
The walk is actually about 10 miles in length, following the path of the Dollis stream from source to where it joins the River Brent and makes its way south to the Thames at Brentford. This briefer excursion took us through part of the southern valley, from Hendon Lane to Sussex Ring. With the spring sun glinting on the water, a moorhen searching for a snack and the new green foliage overhead, it was a hard to believe central London was just down the road.
The banks of the brook were carpeted with wild garlic, with its white flowers and pungent odour. The bluebells, alas, were Spanish rather than native, but still made a beautiful contrast.
There was more colour, too, as we passed between Fursby Avenue allotments (winners of the best-kept small allotments in Barnet in 2015), where a spectacular display of tulips lit up the path.

Interestingly, a little further along, we spotted a wooden structure perched right on the river bank, at the end of a garden - a good place for bird-watching, perhaps?
The viaduct, with its striking 13 brick arches, soars 60 feet above the Dollis Brook, and is the highest point in the London Underground.
Construction started in 1863 when it was part of the Edgeware, Highgate and London Railway. Looking at it from all angles, you have to acknowledge the skill of those Victorian engineers.
Today, the railway takes the Northern line from Finchley Central to Mill Hill East - a reminder of how accessible such a wonderful countrified space actually is.

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