Queen’s Wood – where the Moselle Starts, but Time Stands Still

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There’s something quite magical being near the source of a river, whatever its size or location. It’s that sense of being at the beginning, with all that potential, just as the journey starts. I get that feeling in Queen’s Wood, Highgate, where the Moselle River begins.

You can stand in the far western edge, just below Muswell Hill Road, and see the water trickle down between the trees, trying to gather enough strength to flow downhill. When I look at these small fingers of water, I imagine I am looking back into to time – to a scene 450,000 years ago, where the last great ice sheets got as far as the top of the hill and no further. When the Anglian Glaciation ended the springs would have merged with the melting ice water and started to find their way downhill, through the tundra-like landscape, towards the Lea and the Thames (which had been pushed south to its present location by the great ice sheets).

These small streams flow together in places gaining in strength and flow, only to disappear as Victorian pipes force the Moselle underground, to then re-appear further downstream.

Sadly the Moselle doesn’t have a chance to become a babbling brook and leave Queen’s Wood proudly at the surface. It instead is smuggled out, not seeing daylight again until Lordship Recreation Ground in Tottenham.

It would be amazing if we were able to free it from its underground prison and see the Moselle flow proudly from Queen’s Wood again.

Theo Thomas, Love the Lea. Thames21. theo.thomas@thames21.org.uk