Wanderlust Wednesday: The Northern Line- Part 1

The Northern line is a real doosy. I’ve split this one up into two posts so the first one is my walk from Morden to High Barnet. (The second post will be the epic walk from Edgeware to Kennington.)

Nothern Line

I started off at Morden and walked to Balham (it was convenient for where I was living at the time.) I’d never been anywhere near Morden and it felt very suburban walking from there to South Wimbledon (a euphemism if I ever heard one) and a very straight, long road from Colliers Wood to Balham. Broken up with very, very different neighbourhoods that ranged from very suburban (hardly feeling like London) to feeling like I was in another country (which I think is really cool- ie. This is a xenophobic anti-immigration free zone) with African and Middle Eastern shops and a very non-suburban feel and an amazing lamp post.

Nothern Line

Another day, I met my very patient friend, Lenny at Stockwell for ‘a quick walk’ (walking from Balham to complete that stretch) and once again while we passed through Stockwell, it absolutely poured down with rain. It stopped (thankfully) as we walked towards Oval and then London Bridge.

Nothern Line

From Colliers Wood to Balham to London Bridge the Northern line follows a single road. A distance of over 7 miles! No screeching carriages around curves on this stretch! (Although to be fair, I’ve never taken the Northern Line all the way to Morden- I got the bus to get there!)

We passed through the city and I experienced for the third time the weird disjointed feeling when I compare where I walked from – Balham (or Morden) to the City of London. From a suburban (and not so up-and-coming) residential area to the pinnacle of the world’s financial markets where on weekdays the people going into the sky scrapers wear suits that cost more than my rent for the year.  Welcome to London.

Back out of the city, through Angel and King’s Cross (again) and north, up Hampstead Hill (more like a cliff face) and onward to Finchley. Watching the trains pull in and out of King’s cross (and getting a severe case of the travel bug) and then walking to the next station I was surprised once again with how post-industrial and run down it still is. Though since Google announced it’s offices moving here, it won’t be up-and-coming for long- it’ll be expensive.

We walked past Camden, Tufnell Arch and then Archway and a really cool second-hand shop with a nautical theme (and completely incongruous with my budget even if I wanted to carry a ship’s wheel with me for the rest of the walk.)

Nothern Line

Finally, we gave it up at East Finchley and stopped at a surprisingly nice pub tucked in to one side of the railway bridge. I really enjoyed making the bar tender guess where we had walked from.


Photo courtesy of Runny Custard Photography

Another day, we finished the walk from East Finchley to High Barnet- including Millhill East (a very annoying appendage to the main High Barnet branch of the Northern Line but passed the Dollis Brook Viaduct- an incredible feat of engineering and a big surprise to stumble across.

Finally at High Barnet-  the end of the line.

Nothern Line



Filed under Travel, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Wanderlust Wednesday: The Northern Line- Part 1

  1. The Northern Line has a certain ‘northerly’ character that really appeals to me. The name ‘Northern’ gives the feeling of such wintry coldness as you might experience in the far north or on the north face of a great mountain. This is reinforced by the black colour of the line, which is the same colour when the universe cools to absolute zero. And the fact that it contains one of the most complicated junctions within one line (at Camden Town) makes it the line that is most truly an underground railway system within itself.

    • Owl_KnitYou

      So interesting! I never thought of the colour of the line telling me anything about the line itself. Mostly I just enjoyed the colour coordination of some lines’ colours and the colour of their upright bars. I wonder what all the blue lines tell us about the map!?

      I really need to read more about this and you probably already know this but a lot of the lines were self-contained railways owned by their own company or as pat of a bigger railway. I like the chaos (as long as I’m not running late!

      • The Piccadilly Blue says ‘home’ to me – be it getting back to King’s Cross for the train back home up north, or getting to Heathrow for the flight home to Singapore! Perhaps those colours have very different meanings to different people.

        Yes I learnt recently that it was really messy in terms of management back then, and the amazing diversity we see today we partly owe to that. Interesting how the Underground network might have developed under centralized control as opposed to self-organization, although it wasn’t totally self-organized – looks like there was, at least for most of the time, some localized central control within each railway company. A possible project for researchers of network assembly!

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