Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Saturday List - #17 The waterways of the London Borough of Barnet

I have always had a fascination with water, be it the sea, lakes, ponds, ditches. People don't really associate the London Borough of Barnet with water, but we have some quite interesting spots. Here's a list of some of the waterways I know and why they fascinate me.

Here's the list

1. The Welsh Harp
2. Totteridge Ponds
3. The Silk Stream in Deansbrook
4. St Josephs College pond
5. Darlands Lake
6. The River Brent at Brent Cross
7. Simmonds Meade
8. Stonegrove Park pond
9. Angel Pond
10. Sheepwash pond

And here's why

1. The Welsh Harp. This is the largest bit of water in the Borough. It is home to various sailing clubs and is also a nature reserve. It is a great place to go for a walk on a sunny autumn afternoon.

2. Totteridge Ponds. These always fascinated me. When I was at Finchley Catholic High School, I'd pass them on the 251 bus on the way to and from school. Whatever the weather, there were always people fishing on them. They are well stocked with carp and other course fish. As I passed them on the way to school, I'd always fantasise about getting off the bus and spending the day fishing there. I never did

3. The Silk Stream in Deansbrook.  You pass this on the 302 bus from Mill Hill to Burnt Oak It generally looks little more than a ditch. It passes under the road and through the allotments, on to Cressingham park. When I was at Orange Hill Senior High School, I'd often spend hours sitting on the edge of it, staring into the water. It was a place of serenity for me. It also has a reputation for flash flooding and in the 1980's several local children drowned in it. It is actually the most dangerous stretch of water in the Borough.

4. St Josephs College pond. When I was growing up, my parents were deeply involved in the local church. We used to raise money for St Josephs College, which trained Roman Catholic Priests. It had beautiful grounds and a working farm. It also had a beautiful pond, well stocked with carp and goldfish. It had an island in the middle where ducks lived and a little wooden bridge. It was a magical place. Sadly, the college closed and the church sold the land. The pond is now nearly silted up. It breaks my heart. The site is currently being used to film "Call the Midwife".

5. Darlands Lake. When I was at St Vincents school on the Ridgeway, we would occasionally do "nature surveys" at Darlands Lake. This is a large lake between Mill Hill and Totteridge. It is beautiful. It used to have a boating hut and pier, but this is long gone. Sadly few in Mill Hill even know of its existence. It is well worth a trip

6. The River Brent at Brent Cross. The River Brent passes through Brent Cross Shopping Centre. To me it always looks more like an open sewer than a river. I've always thought it sums up everything that is wrong with Brent Cross. To me a waterways should be nurtured and made beautiful. The River Brent is a real wasted opportunity, it is sad and disgusting.

7. Simmonds Meade. This is the little stream which runs through what is now designated as Mill Hill Village Green. It is on a triangle of land by Mill Hill Circus Roundabout, bounded by the A41, Lawrence St and Uphill Road. It is a serene and beautiful spot, in the most unlikely of places. It has pretty little bridges and a lovely weeping willow tree. I especially like it because it was where I had my first snog.

8. Stonegrove Park pond. This is yet another wasted opportunity. When I was young, there was a boating lake. The school even did canoeing there. Sadly Barnet Council long ago shut the boating and it is slowly decaying. It is still a lovely spot.

9. Angel Pond. This is the most picturesque pond in Barnet, it is located at the top of Milespit Hill, with an old brick church as its backdrop. As a child, I'd walk past it on the way to and from St Vincents school. I was always fascinated by the tadpoles, sticklebacks and goldfish that lived there.

10. Sheepwash pond. This pond is on the Ridgeway. It is a beautiful pond, which several years ago became overrun with terrapins, which people had dumped in it. It backs on to Belmont childrens farm. Generations of youngsters have gone there to feed the ducks, although this has had a rather detrimental effect on the health of the pond.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Mike Gee has also recently presented some fascinating slideshows and talks about the waterways of Finchey as well as Finchley's green spaces!