The Green London Way is a walking route of 110 miles length around London split into 18 sections. It follows much of the route of the 78 mile long Capital Ring but has some new sections. The Green London Way is largely the work of one man, Bob Gilbert, who is a supporter for the protection of urban open spaces and public access. His book, The Green London Way, outlines each section with detailed description of the historic and wildlife aspects of each section and is being used as I walk the route.
The official start and end point of the Way is Stratford but it seemed sensible that I started where I left off on my partial re-walk of the Ring last September. Walk 12 covers the same ground as Capital Ring section 9 which I previously walked in November 2018.
Although this section can be reached via Richmond and a rather complicated tube journey it is far easier to do from central London even though that involves quite long tube trips. So I set off with a zone 1-6 Travel Card on my usual train. The trains are definitely getting busier with my carriage at times having all seats occupied. The tube was even busier. I arrived off the Central line train just before 11am and made my way down the busy road and to the start point over the A4217.
The walk starts at Greenford Nature Reserve and then picks up the Paddington branch of the Grand Union canal, very quiet with few boats and the odd passing cyclist. Then Perivale Wood appears on the right hand bank, the only remaining part of the Great Forest of Middlesex. At the bridge we leave the canal and head for Horsenden Hill.
First through Horsenden Visitor Centre and children's play area. Although the farm was supposed to be open there was little sign that it was and much of the area was fenced off with building work. No sign of the cafe or toilets and the whole area looked somewhat derelict.
The route goes to the right of the farm building and into woodland flanking Home Mead meadow. Then it goes steeply through the woodland towards the summit of Horsenden Hill. Here is the first difference from the Capital Ring. Whereas the Ring chooses a different and less steep path round the edge of the wood, the Way uses a different path right through its middle. This has a stile at each end and a series of steep steps. The Ring boasts of a single stile on the whole route near Harrow-on-the-Hill but Bob has managed to find another two! It was certainly an exhilarating climb, followed below by another couple of walkers, before I emerged on the open summit.
So up on the top with a chance to relax and take in the view. The trig column marks the summit at 85m. Despite somewhat cloudy conditions the view was excellent and I could see St Mary's in Harrow-on-the-Hill which I would be passing a little later. But time to move on.
As I found last time the path down the other side of the hill, which leads into Horsenden Woods, is not well marked and a bit confusing. I found another couple coming the other way, asking if I was on the right path for the Ring they said they were doing it for the first time... but it seems they were right and I was heading the right way. A nice bit of woodland for a while (left photo) before emerging on Horsenden Lane.
For the next mile or so it is all suburban roads and even Bob Gilbert couldn't find any greenery. A little respite at Ridding Lane Open Space but that is just a small green and playing area. The shopping arcade at Sudbury is passed along with Sudbury Hill and Sudbury Hill and Harrow stations and lots of cars. Then there is a short stretch of real woodland (right photo) before emerging on the busy A4005 Sudbury Hill leading towards Harrow on the Hill
The route soon reaches Harrow-on-the-Hill on the 130m Harrow Hill. Here I stopped for lunch at The Castle right in the heart of the old part of the town. An excellent lunch and a nice way to spend an hour with a sense that things are now getting back to normal. Only a short walk around the town which is virtually all owned by Harrow School. Plenty of students walking the streets. May be worth another visit once museums and similar are fully open. I turned off to the right down Football Lane which led to the school playing fields.
Here the path becomes confusing. Harrow School had a long standing dispute over the public footpath crossing their playing fields and tried to block it, but lost their appeal a few years ago. There is still no attempt to make the path accessible and the first Ring signpost directs you straight into their tennis courts and where they might intend you to go closed off by building works. I made my way round the courts, got my compass out, and proceeded in an easterly direction right across the football pitches, with not the slightest trace that it was a footpath. The chap mowing the grass with a big mower made no comment so guess I wasn't doing anything wrong. Heading for the trees in the distance I reached the brook which the instructions told me to follow which led to the stile leading onto the busy A404 - yes, the same A404 that I use if I want to join the M40. But wait, this 'only stile on the Capital Ring' is not even a stile now! Remember to take the classic photo of Harrow-on-the-Hill before it is too late. Wait to cross the road and head through the gap opposite into Ducker footpath the other side.
Ducker Pool to the right of this path was the original Harrow School bathing pool but is now derelict. Behind a high wall it is not even visible from the path. The path continues first past a golf course then between Northwick Park Hospital and Northwick Park. When I last did this section it was a muddy quagmire, but they seem to have laid a new gravel path and it was bone dry despite the recent rain.
Ducker footpath emerges onto Northwick Park and sports grounds then immediately to South Kenton tube station where I caught the Bakerloo line all the way to Waterloo, virtually the full length of that line. A large group of passengers patiently waiting to find out which platform our Reading train would depart from. Fifteen minutes late it came in and we all boarded, only to find after we had left that it would be running non stop to Staines to make up time, which no doubt upset quite a few. Arrived home at 5pm after yet another good day out and the start of what should be fun walking the Green London Way.