“We’re being counted,” declared a man from a group of eight walkers. I was sitting on my comfortable waterproof mat on a convenient wall at the entrance to the Muswell Hill tunnel on the Parkland Walk.
“Yes,” I replied. I’m helping with a count of walkers, cyclists, runners and even dogs so that we can advise the Council on a strategy for reducing litter and dog poo.”
“We’re all sound engineers,” said the man, and as if it prove it the group went whooping through the tunnel listening to echoes.
Although it was a cloudy afternoon in November, it was a Sunday and the intermittent drizzle hadn’t put off the 100 walkers I counted in an hour. Most people were wearing navy blue or black down jackets with the odd splash of colour from a rainbow faux fur hood or a pink, yellow and white woollen shawl flung over a jacket. Dogs were another matter: tartan, striped, spotted and plain; woollen, down and waterproof jackets were sported proudly.
This was one of four separate counts I took along the Parkland Walk on both weekdays and Sundays.
One very sunny Sunday I counted over 300 walkers, cyclists and runners – and 23 dogs passing by one spot by the meadow near Stapleton Hall Road, a popular walk for locals going to and from Finsbury Park. I even met my neighbour with his adorable King Charles spaniel. Soon a small group of dogs and their owners had congregated by my bench, but I had to keep an eye out on passers-by to complete my count.
People were intrigued with what we were doing and stopped to chat on weekdays when it wasn’t so busy. One woman pushing a buggy wanted the Walk widened as she felt at risk in case dogs or cyclists bumped her.
The Footfall Survey took place between 1st November and 14th December last year. Volunteers carried out 38 one-hour stints over both the southern section (Highgate to Finsbury Park) and the shorter Muswell Hill section. Unsurprisingly, Sundays had the highest usage with my own count of 302 walkers, cyclists and runners and 23 dogs topping the count. But the Parkland Walk is well used any day of the week. On the southern section an average of 77 people an hour passed by on a weekday with their 13 dogs; and on the Muswell Hill section an average of 64 users and 25 dogs an hour were recorded on a weekday.
For information on the survey and the Parkland Walk see here.