Cathy Meeus, local writer and Chair of the Friends of the Parkland Walk explains why graffiti and green spaces do not make the perfect match.
The Parkland Walk is a very special and much-loved green space that winds its way behind the urban streets of Stroud Green, Crouch End, Highgate and Muswell Hill. Originally the route of a railway line, this green space is now an official Local Nature Reserve.
A Wildlife Haven
The Walk provides a hugely valuable ‘green corridor’ for wildlife from bats and birds to the insects and plants that support this diversity. For its users it provides the opportunity to stroll along a path that could almost be in the midst of the country – a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of modern urban life. Surrounded by trees, flowers and birdsong, it’s the perfect setting for peaceful outdoor exercise for people of all ages from parents with children in buggies or walking to school, to dog walkers, joggers, and older people making the most of the relatively flat gradient. And of course it is a hugely popular cycling route for both leisure cyclists and cycling commuters.
In recent years, the Parkland Walk has become known as a graffiti site. This has been both regretted by many users of the Walk and celebrated by others. Large numbers of residents feel that the invasion of urban art detracts from the sense of being out of the city and in natural surroundings. Urban life is all around us and accessible natural spaces are a rarity. There is also concern to preserve the sense of history provided by the Victorian brickwork around the bridges. The indiscriminate spraying on walls and even on trees creates a potential risk to flora and fauna, in particular a rare species of fern that has made a home in the bridge abutments. Any many are upset by the fumes and litter caused by graffiti spraying.
These views are not shared by all – many celebrate the diverse images that have been created. However, it should be noted that the Parkland Walk is NOT a permitted graffiti site, contrary to the messages often carried on graffiti websites. The majority of the land is owned by Haringey Council, but a short section running from Blythwood Road to the footbridge at Vicarage Path belongs to Islington Council. The regulations of both councils officially ban graffiti on the Parkland Walk.
Beloved by local residents, much of the maintenance and conservation work on the Walk is undertaken by volunteers organised by the Friends of the Parkland Walk. We collect litter, keep the paths clear of excess plant growth, and maintain the diversity of habitats by various conservation activities. We also publicise and promote the protection of the Walk and its integrity as a wildlife haven. We welcome all those who seek to enjoy and preserve this wonderful place both as supporters and active volunteers. Do visit our website at:
Photogrpahy has been provided by Cathy Meeus and is copywrited.