Members' walks

Our regular Members' Walks are open to all Members of The Friends of Alexandra Park (you are welcome to join on the day - only £5 for a household). 

Members are led through a different part of the Park each time, with a chance to discuss the flora, fauna, th
e history, and future plans for the Park.  Usually finishing with a beverage at one of our cafes.

Members Walk: Towers and Flowers
A half a dozen of us met up on a sunny, but slightly chilly evening by the BBC Tower. The visibility was good so we took the opportunity to have a good look at the general view as well as specific new builds.

On the local new build front, we could see the progress of the Altitude N8 development by Hornsey station.

Further away there was, of course, the new Tottenham Football Ground (left). Another tower going up is the new APEX building on corner of Tottenham High Road and Seven Sisters Road. Also there are cranes visible at Tottenham Hale for the Ashley Road development.

Down at our feet was wall barley growing, but annoyingly someone pointed out a very soft grass which after looking up was found to be Annual Beard Grass (not a native).

We continued our walk with a look at some of the flowers planted in the beds below the Palace. There were a mixture wild flowers and more ornamental annuals including Poppies, Borage, Vipers Bugloss and Californian poppies. (left pic)

For the wild flower part of our walk, we spotted some yarrow by the terrace and then crossed the road to walk in a loop to the left and back up to head towards the Rose Garden. Here, amongst the wild flowers seen were Dove's Foot Crane's Bill, Common Mallow, Ribwort, Buckthorn (left) and Broadleaf Plantains, Selfheal and Pineapple Weed.

We crossed the road and walked to the top of the old Dry Ski Slope were there were plenty more wild flowers to be seen. Red clover might not produce much excitement, but from an ecological point of view it was good to see a lot of Yellow Rattle (bottom picture) which should keep some of the vigorous grasses in check and allow more wild flowers to prosper.

Waves of Ribbed Melilot were perhaps prettiest show on offer...
We walked to the Rose Garden to have a last look at flowers and views. There we spotted some cultivated yarrow that contrasted quite well with the wild version seen earlier. In the fountain was a good collection of different coloured Water Lillies (and even some small fish). 

We ended our walk dead on time at 9pm looking at the insignificant flowers of the Honey Locust tree at the top of the Rose Garden.

May Members Walk: The Old Racecourse
On a pleasant evening, we met up by the Farmers' Market to trace the old racecourse. Gordon showed us old maps of the area and pointed out where the Paddocks and ring were before walking to a position by the finishing line where the Grandstand used to dominate.

We saw pictures of the racecourse and its grandstand in its pomp...

Continuing towards the cricket pitch the route of the course was pointed out where it went around the pitch. We were told how long the racecourse had lasted (1868 to 1970) and the reasons for it closing (mostly safety - corners too tight with adverse camber).

We finished near the 5 furlong start point before a few of adjourned to the Starting Gate which has itself an interesting collection of Horse Racing Memorabilia.

Members Walk: Around the Park Perimeter
A beautiful sunny day for our walk around the Park. Starting in the Redston Field, we took an anti-clockwise walk keeping to the edge of the park only missing out The Grove and the edge of the Boating Lake.

On the way around we discussed some of the tree planting in different areas of the park and had a quick look at some of the historical artefacts including old parish boundaries and the old lido.

As we walked around it was explained about where the Horse Racing started from and the outline of the course.

The view from the terrace of the Palace out over London didn't fail to impress.

We also had a chance to see the new calendar. Overall it was great to catch up on a crisp autumnal day.

October Members' Walk

We stuck to our time! A one hour walk around the Boating Lake to look at the birds on it and a few around it.

What did we see? (picture by Nick Bryant)

Four species of duck, our resident MallardsTufted Ducks and Pochards together with - newly arrived for Winter - Shoveler duck (below).
This was perhaps the highlight as they had only been reported for the first time yesterday by one of the avid birders Bob Watts.

We looked at probably the hardest ID question - the difference between the female Pochards and female Tufted ducks. The males of these birds are much easier to identify.

We also contrasted the Moorhens and Coots.

There were Herring Gulls and Cormorants near the middle island, but all around the lake were Black Headed Gulls - not so black headed in their Winter plumage.

Canada Geese tracked us around and both Feral and Wood Pigeons were clearing up around the lake.

September Members Walk
A welcome big turnout for this month walk with 15 Members gathering in The Grove.

The theme for this month's Members Walk was Boundary Oaks. Meeting up at the Park Information Centre, where many old maps are kept, we inspected them for traces of old field lines where we might find oaks predating the set up of the Park.

We started looking in The Grove where there are probably the oldest trees in the Park including the fenced off oak familiar to many visitors. (pictured)
We then moved to look at trees by the edge of the allotmentswhich may may be old enough to have been there before the Park as well as a line on the edge of the road leading into the Garden 

Crossing the road there is another old oak a candidate for being prior to the park.

We walked around the Palace and ending up below the Rose Garden and seeing another line of oaks. These are probably old enough to have been present before the Park was set up. Some of these oaks have been fenced off as they have recently been
dropping some limbs. 

A final line of trees was in fact the most certain to be examples of trees present before the park. This line extends from the woodland near where the old Blandford Hall was across Alexandra Palace Way and to below the Lower Road. One of these trees fell down in February 2014 and its rings were counted. The number added up to just over 200 meaning that the tree was over 200 years old and was already 50 years old when the Park was founded.

The last tree in the line and on the walk was within the Nature Conservation Area. (pictured left)

Members August Nature Walk

Armed with nets, books and a trolley, we met at the Newland Road entrance.

At the entrance we saw one of Oak trees infested with Oak Processionary Moth. The nest and stripped leaves (with midribs left) were pointed out. The offending creatures will be removed by August 15th.

We saw a few butterflies including a Gatekeeper that was temporarily netted.

The highlight of this part of the walk was definitely the Wasp Spider sitting in her web. (pictured left)

These spiders have spread into the country from the continent.

Then in a Grey Willow we found a large group of Buff tip moth caterpillars much more brightly coloured than their adult form.

A theme then developed of pointing out galls, we had previously spotted a thistle gall and then we came across several examples of Robin's Pin Cushion on a Rose near the reservoir.

On Oak Trees we saw Knopper, Marble, Artichoke, Spangle, Silk Button and Ram's Horn galls showing the diversity of wildlife that depends on our native oaks.

It was fruiting season for many trees and shrubs and we looked the "berries" of Dogwood, Rose, Hawthorn and Guelder Rose.

The second picture (left) shows us searching in the long grass....

A nice stroll up towards to the Bedford Road entrance giving a nice indication of the flora and fauna that the Park has to offer.

July Members Walk

Rain did not discourage all our Members from taking a stroll around the Park that isn't anymore...

In the late 19th Century a large section of the Park to the North of the Palace was sold off for development and this walk had the idea of tracing what was there in the past and what is there now.

A pleasant wander (ignoring the rain) was had by all.

June Members Walk: View from the Terrace
This is our shortest walk.... in 1 hour we manage to get from the BBC Tower all the way to the Palm Court.

This time we had a look at a couple of sites that have lost Gasholders and a few more new developments as well pointing out the landmarks from the terrace trying to keep pace with the buildings as they were lit up by the sun.....

Members Walk May 2017
What If...there was serious money to make some improvements in the park? This was the subject for the May Members Walk.

Should the Park be more like a Theme Park or more like Hampstead Heath?

We discussed the possibilities of a big new playground like the one in Victoria Park? A mountain bike track? Toilets in the park? More paved paths, perhaps with lighting? An urban farm?*

There is no money at present for new developments in the Park, but in the future with a real possibility of another bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund later this year. What should be the priorities?

Toilets on a larger cafe in the Grove was suggested and had majority support. More hard surfaces? Some people want to see a lot more, some none. Most seemed to like the idea of a proper hard surface between North View Road and the Lower Path.

It was also mentioned that no further Circuses are taking place at the Fairground Car Park.

The effect on the Park of an increase in income-generating activities was discussed and they should be progressed.

The free re-broadcast of the Royal Opera House's production of Turendot on the South Slope was another point of interest. Tickets.

*None of these are proposals - just a few ideas which have been floated at various times.

Members Spring Tree Walk 2017
People arrived early for our Spring Tree Walk, but were not allowed to relax! There was a table full of leaves to identify. Some easy - Horsechestnut, Holly, Oak... some harder Rowan, Field Maple, Sycamore and some quite fiendish young London Plane tree, Amur Maple, Manna Ash.

April was a good month for a Spring Tree Walk with the Horse chestnuts putting on a great show with their white candelabras. It was pointed out that the flowers start off with a yellow centre before changing via orange to a red colour when fertilised.

We looked at a colourful gall on English Elm in The Grove (might be first British sighting).

The walk meandered around The Grove passing by a Norway Maple cultivar with a beautiful contrast between its red leaves and yellow flowers (pictured).

The walk finished in Western Arboretum with a look at some different Ash Trees, the Dawn Redwoods, Hornbeam, Cappodacian Maple seedlings and terminating with the favourite Cork Oak below the Palm Court.

March Members Walk

On the hunt for wild flowers by the Bedford Road entrance.... Too late for crocuses and snowdrops (still to be seen in The Grove).

What did we see then? Lesser Celandine coming to its peak. Colts FootShepherds Purse and a great favourite the Primrose. To add to flowers on flowers, we also saw flowers on trees Ash TreeWych Elm and male and female Goat Willow flowers.

Photo shows people studying the white Sweet Violet flowers.

Friends February Members Walk 2017

“A surprisingly large group braved the very cold weather on February 11th for the members’ walk during which Gordon pointed out the layout of the racecourse, the position of its various starts and finish line, and of the grandstand and paddock (not surprisingly where the Paddock car park now stands). 

Unfortunately no physical evidence remains of any of these features but amusing quotes from the newspapers of the time provided some insights into the nature of the crowds that attended the races: this was no Epsom or Ascot. The management of the racecourse did not help matters with a small misprint on their adverts: “N.B. The company reserve the right of refusing admission to any person they think proper.”

Friends January Members Walk 2017
The weather forecast was terrible on Saturday.  The weather forecast was terrible on Sunday. The actual weather itself was similar so a very small, elite and determined group set off from the Park Information to see what was in flower this time of year and to get an update on the Park. 

It was good to see snowdrops poking their heads above the soil by the Park Information Centre so flowering will be soon.

Our walk took us towards the Palace where we saw the newly re-branded Phoenix-Bar and Kitchen then via the Rose Garden to the Boating Lake. Here we looked at some the ducks and geese etc. before adjourning to the cafe where two thirds of the company enjoyed a warming drink. 

We saw in flower: Garya elliptica, SkimmiaHazelYarrow, Daisy (both native and garden varieties), honeysuckle (pictured), several types of Viburnum and Witch Hazel.

In the cafe we were lucky to bump into our Bird Walk leader, Gareth, who updated us on birds seen recently in the park including a large flock of redwings.

Friends December Members Walk 2016

Our traditional December Members' Walk around The Grove was extremely well attended with a look at how things at this time of Winter. 

The attraction of the Mulled Wine and Mince Pies afterwards was obviously too much to resist and thirty odd people joined us in nicely, seasonally, decorated Park Information Centre.

This is becoming quite a tradition. Next year we will have to lay more of the mulled wine.....

Members Walk: A View of London October 2016

A cloudy start, but sunshine gained force for this strenuous one hour walk from the BBC Tower to the Palm Court.

Many buildings were pointed out, identified and discussed by a group of about a dozen members.

Several new towers present in the scenery including One, The Elephant and the Lexicon Tower.

Following from the month's quiz, it was pointed that the terrace faces Southeast, but that is always difficult to take in. (We naturally think it faces South.)

Visibility wasn't best, but we managed spot most the major tall buildings and boredom was minimal....

Picture by Gordon Hutchinson

Members' Walk, September 2016
Transport of all types was the subject of this month's walk. From practical trains, buses and trams to the launch of the Sinclair C5......

We saw where trams originally finished where Airships were built and where people could dice with death on a Switchback.

There was even Sam Cody with his Man-carrying Kite not to mention the exploits of Thomas Baldwin and Dolly Shepherd with Balloons and Parachutes.

We discovered that we have had many different forms of transport in the Park and even had the opportunity to see Segways parading.

For excitement recently there have been two Red Bull Soapbox Derbys flying down the hill.

Bicycles - motorcycles all have made an appearance and do you remember the Dry Ski Slope?

Members' Walk, August 2016

We spent our hour looking at lots of aspects of Nature and the Environment in the Butterfly Meadow. Firstly examining a strange looking plant gall, the Knopper Gall caused by a small wasp on English Oak. For wild flowers, we looked at the tall spikes of Rosebay Willowherb as well as Great Willowherb. These together with Ragwort were the main nectar providers for the insects at this point of the year.

The group also saw plenty of different trees on the edge of the area as well as saplings trying to push up in the middle of the meadow. Oak, Hornbeam, Goat and Grey Willow, Field Maple and Norway Maple were among the many trees seen.

Although the butterflies were not out and about, we were able to see Parent Bugs (a type of Shield Bug) who look after their young all over the only Alder tree in the area. At this time they were sitting on eggs

What else is special about this area? Yellow Meadow Ants create Ant Hills which in turn provide food for birds like the Green Woodpecker.

Members' Wild Flower Walk, July 2016
A lot of people turned up for this walk so maybe it was not such a good experience for those who came....

We followed a route along the Lower Road with participants trying to find any wild flowers actually in flower.

They were given a list of what might be seen, but with no illustrations. Some attendees were beginners and some more expert than the person leading the walk, but most seemed spot some of the flowers along the route.

Lots of small flowers, but among the larger, more spectacular ones wereRosebay WillowherbMallow and Bristly Ox-Tongue.

The list grouped the flowers by family to try show what similar flowers have in common. e.g. Knapweed flower looks like Thistle flower.

The last plant seen was a Red Campion (pictured). 

Thanks to all that came along and makes us think that maybe a Beginners Wild Flower Walk might be a good idea....

Will add a list of the Wild Flowers seen soon.....

May 2016 Members Walk

Anyone for Tennis?

Inspired by maps from the mid 1930s showing more than 10 Tennis Courts, Gordon led us around the Park looking at what is now present in those places in the Park.

A lovely balmy evening for a quick walk around our Green Space. 

We started in The Grove and The Grove Car Park was indeed the site for Tennis Courts. While descending towards the Muswell Hill exit, we were told that there used to Courts just to the left of Alexandra Palace Way.

Continuing along the bottom the Park with the sun slowly descending we walked towards the Alexandra Park Club which had Tennis Courts in various position.

We then walked up to the Bedford Road entrance and up towards the Rose Garden and found out that Courts used to be set up by the Bunker.

Our final stop for Tennis was by the Boating Lake before some of us slated our thirsts in the Phoenix....

Pictures shows us consulting old maps just below the Cricket Pitch.

Members' Walk, April 2016

We had an interesting time looking at some of the places in the Park associated with events and activities which have involved getting off the ground from balloons, man-carrying kites and an airship to BMX free-stylers and tree climbing.

March 2016 Members Walk

Splendid Spring weather for our Early Spring Wild Flower Walk. About 20 enthusiasts of all ages gathered by the Gas Hut to start our walk.

We were given a list of the plants to spot and pictures to help us, but the sneaky thing was that the pictures didn't have the names on.

Walk participants were asked to spot flowers as we walked around a small circuit of the Park. One of the youngsters spotted a Dandelion and we were up and running. Quickly Field Speedwell was ticked off along with Red Dead-Nettle before we had gone more than a few paces.

On right of the Lower Road, we ticked off Shepherds Purse, Groundsel, Lesser Celandine, Daisy and Cow Parsley and on the left we observed a nice bunch of Primroses.

Walking further along, we came across a small euphorbia called Petty Spurge then we took the steps down towards the Alexandra Park Club. Turning left at the bottom along the old racecourse the group were enjoying the stroll so much that they walked straight past a nice little surprise of some Snowdrops still in flower. A little further along was one last minute female hazel flower.

Turning right along the new path we saw Blackthorn flowering, assuring us of sloes to come, before coming across a nice bunch of Colts Foot growing near the water. A Hawthorn next to it was pointed out which had been flowering since late January.

We reversed past the Nature Pond, and just managed to see one or two Goat Willow flowering and making their common name of pussy willow very evident.

Back at top the leader forgot to point out the White Dead-Nettle (shame). 

We then finished by taking our lives in our hands and crossing Alexandra Palace Way. Just over the road is a warm, South facing, grassy slope where we saw the last group of flowers - Scentless Mayweed, Common Chickweed, Sticky Mouse-Ear and Common Whitlow Grass together with Gorse with its vibrant yellow flowers.

January 2016 Members Walk
After doing a Members Walk eighteen months ago in the Summer around the Boating Lake, we decided to repeat the walk at Winter time hoping to see something different and taking advantage of the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend.

A small (half a dozen) band of members took the stroll and checked the differences between our three year-long resident ducks (Mallard, Tufted and Pochard) and our Winter visiting Shoveler. All four species have very different looking males and females. It was good to see the Shovelers (male and female pictured) doing their party piece circling

After help from the RSPB members, we were able to show off the difference between the three different species of gulls present on the lake - black-headed, herring and common.

It was good to see several people using the proper bird seed bought from the Boating Lake Cafe (£1) to feed birds rather than bread. 

October 2015 Members Walk
On a drizzly, autumnal day we met up in the Information Centre to look over old maps of the Park and especially The Grove.

We examined a few features including the old bandstand on the map and then went out into the field to try and locate them - not always easy. We also looked at old pictures and tried to decide from where they were taken.

Back to the Centre for a well-earned cuppa and biscuits.

September 2015 Members Walk

The September Members walk attracted a good crowd of Friends to walk around the boundary of the Park.

We passed along the new path and planting from Newland Road to the Bedford Road entrance. Also we saw TCV building a new section of Insect Hotel and admired the Pluteus aurantiorugosus fungus.

We continued around the boundary and back to the Park Information Centre for welcome refreshments.

June 2015 Members Walk
We decided to have a look at a whole load of different trees that can found between the Park Information Centre and the first part the South Terrace.

As a intro., we looked at leaves from 10 species found in The Grove all of which can be found in the wild, however, 5 were true natives and 5 later arrivals. Do you know which is which?

Horse and Sweet Chestnut, English Oak, Yew, English Ash, Holm Oak, Norway Maple, Sycamore, Hornbeam and Beech.

So on a warm evening we spotted over 35 different species of tree. There were even six different species of Oak! (English, Sessile, Turkey, Holm, Turners and Cork). Though everybody's favourite seems to be the Cork Oak found just below Alexandra Palace Way near the bus stop. You have to just run your hands over it. (pic from a previous Tree Walk) Link to Trees seen on the walk.

These monthly walks are FREE and open to all members of the Friends of Alexandra Park.

May 2015 Members Walk

On same day as last year, we held a Wildflower walk starting form the Park Information Centre.

We had a pre-prepared list of wild flowers to find on the walk and enjoyed ticking them off as they were found.

This time, instead of walking around The Grove we went down to the Paddock Car Park. The edge of the car park was especially good for producing a number of wild flowers that enjoyed the poor soil and habitat edge.

We spotted several plants not on our list including salsify and the small flowers of cleavers.

April 2015 Members Walk

Exploring the Park that no longer exists...

After meeting Alexandra Park Library close to old main entrance to Park, Gordon took us on a short stroll up Rhodes Avenue to admire the portico of the original Tottenham Wood Farm part of whose land was sold to form Alexandra Park.

The house was subsequently used as the Club House for Muswell Hill Golf Club before being demolished with the exception of the portico still standing in the grounds of Rhodes Avenue Primary School. A kind lady from across the road came out and showed us a picture of the original farmhouse.

After this excitement we walked up The Avenue towards the Palace imagining how it used to be and comparing the different architectural styles. We visited the site of the old permanent circus before finishing up by CUFOS whence we retired for a well-earned cup of tea.

March 2015 Members Walk

This event was programmed to be an opportunity to admire and identify the view from the Terrace. (pic taken on different occasion!)

In order to improve the experience, we were blessed with a cold weather with a chilling wind and severely reduced visibility.

Half a dozen determined members still turned up.

There was a mini quiz on the evolution of the highest building record holders in London. (Robert won!)

Then we concentrated on looking at some of the closer buildings to the Park with confirmation via binoculars. Spurs football ground, Hornsey Town Hall, the New River Pumping Station and Wood Green Crown Court were examples of "spots".

We hope to repeat this walk on sunny, warm, clear day.

February 2015 Members Walk

We met under the tall spire of the BBC Tower on a sunny Sunday morning. We strolled down towards the Bedford Road entrance where we encountered volunteers from TCV cutting-back bramble.

Their leader, Jack Newman, explained the work of the volunteers and then gave us a dramatic demonstration of tree-felling in an area below the lower path. It was textbook stuff with the sycamore falling in just the right direction. (no humans were hurt in this demonstration)

Two members of the public engaged in a lively discussion of the "correct" management of the Park.

The group returned up the hill to the Boating Lake Cafe where the hard core enjoyed a well-deserved cup of tea.

July 2014 Members Walk

On a lovely warm Summer's evening we had a Members Walk aiming to walk along a good portion of the boundary of Alexandra Park.
Along the walk we admired a stegosaurus and found the old Sea Scouts area. We heard about and saw the top of the Park's very own Nuclear Bunker. There were about a dozen of us and Siri and we were in time to see some of the original graffiti being finished (picture) and had an enlightening discussion with the artist.

We finished on the terrace of the Bar and Kitchen where we enjoyed well-deserved refreshments.

June 2014 Members Walk

Rain greeted a dozen members for our June stroll. We sheltered under the Boating Cafe roof while some of the birds of the Boating Lake were pointed out. Some are dramatic and easy to spot (usually male ducks) and some not so.....

There were young Canada Geese to be seen as well as a Dabchick chick (or should that be a Little little grebe). The rain stopped and it became pleasant as we meandered around the Boating Lake. We also had the chance to contrast the feet of the coot (pictured) and moorhen. 

The highlight for many was to see a cormorant fishing then flying off after making a circuit of the lake. We were provided with a guide sheet to tick off some of the birds to be seen.... (we saw all those not in italics)

May 2014 Members' Walk

We had our fourth members' walk on the evening of Thursday, 15th May in The Grove.

We started with a patch of mauve honesty by the railway bridge at the Dukes Avenue entrance.

The largest and most impressive Spring flowers out was Queen Anne's Lace (Cow Parsley) with its delicate white flowers swathing wild areas of The Grove. 

This was contrasted with similarly flowered, but with more thuggish leaves of the Hogweed. 

Three different types of speedwell were observed as well as the green alkanet (which is blue).

The walk was well attended with about 15 people joining us and some us adjourned for a pleasant drink on a clear evening on the terrace of the Bar and Kitchen.

A list of the wildflowers seen on the walk and links to pictures taken of each one in Alexandra Park.

April 2014  Members’ Walk

The April members’ walk focused on the eastern edge of the Park and there were a few surprises in store.  First was the 20 metre Stegosaurus which has appeared in the playground of Dinosaurs Playgroup by the Newlands Road entrance in the south east corner of the Park. Gordon explained that the Trust is now re-established as the owner of the Playgroup land and building, and hoped to open the playground up to the public at weekends.  Gordon also sketched out the work which will take place this summer to improve the Newlands entrance and the path through to Bedford Road and related a little of the saga of the water leaks from Thames Water mains and other mysterious sources.

Next surprise for some was their first sight of the remains of the Lido, in the woods between the racecourse and the reservoir.  Only the edging is visible but this can be followed for the full 50 metres length. Margaret Scholes, who is researching the history of the Park, was able to tell us that there were reports of swimming events in the Lido up to the 1930s.

At the Bedford Road end of the path from Newlands, Gordon showed the plans for opening up the area around the path to make it more inviting, and providing bollards along the road to make an obvious pedestrian route into the Park.

March 2014 Members’ Walk

About a dozen of us strolled along the Terrace admiring the view with Stephen putting a name to many of the sights spread out in front of us before ending up at the Park Information Centre for a well-earned coffee. 

February 2014 Members’ Walk

Our first Members’ Walk attracted over 30 of you plus two dogs for a really enjoyable stroll around the Park on a gloriously sunny day. We started at the Totem Pole and meandered via the butterfly meadow to end up at the Park Information Centre.
Topics covered during the walk included the Totem Pole; the forthcoming spring clean-up (see below)  and butterfly meadow clearing; a bit of the history of the Alexandra Park Football Club, its drainage problems both historic and recent, and the latest drainage work on the pitches;  plus a brief summary of the plans for the Palace.
Around 20 members stayed on at the Information Centre for coffee and biscuits, and it was evident that for many this was their first visit.

Information about future Members’ Walks will appear in our monthly newsletters