Dave Sergeant

The London Loop is a walking route of 150 miles length around the outer boundaries of London split into 24 sections. See tfl.gov.uk /modes/walking/loop-walk for more details. Inner London Ramblers now produces updated guides to the walk.

Section 12 Uxbridge to Harefield - 12th May 2023

I originally walked this section in June 2019 although it was not blogged on this website. I decided to have another look and with the weather looking reasonable and with only limited interruptions to our local trains from strike action set forth.

The section begins at Uxbridge tube station. I had forgotten how long it takes to get to here and my trip from Richmond took over one and a half hours so it was 1130 before I set off. First through the High Street area of Uxbridge.

Then down to the Grand Union canal which is followed for most of the walk. Uxbridge Lock is the first of several locks along the route.

The canal is fairly quiet until the roar of the traffic on the A40 appears which is passed under at the Western Avenue road bridge.

Denham Deep Lock is one of the deepest locks on the canal and has an 11 foot drop. In the adjacent cottage is Fran's Tea Room with its outdoor garden but like on my last trip it was closed.

After this and after crossing the canal at bridge 182 the path, now following the Colne Valley Trail, deviates a bit away from the canal in woodland alongside a large lake with various fishing clubs. Away to the right construction machinery is heard whirring away, the soil processing and storage area for the HS2 tunnel which exits the ground around here.

Passing under the railway bridge which carries the Chiltern railway line the whole of the HS2 construction becomes apparent. Here is the Colne Valley Viaduct which when completed will be the longest railway bridge in the UK. The first part of the viaduct is clearly visible over the lake and largely complete. I had a somewhat better view of the viaduct from the bus on the way back to Uxbridge which passed right by the huge concrete structures.

The towpath is diverted at the point the viaduct will cross the canal with a sort of pontoon built out into the water. Still a clear route for pedestrians and whatever traffic uses the route but a bit daunting with all the traffic lights and construction stuff on all sides and above.

After the HS2 works the route does a lengthy diversion away from the canal through quite pleasant woodland around the Harefield Marina. Towards the end a large carved sculpture comes into view, part of the Colne Valley Sculpture Trail.

A short walk along the road then back to the canal at Widewater Lock. Eventually Black Jack's bridge is reached with Black Jack's Lock behind. There used to be a flour mill here and the lock takes its name from that. The mill house is now a cafe, but like the previous one closed and only open at weekends.

The next section of the towpath runs along more lakes and the river Colne with several inlets. At one of these is a spectacular weir. Then Harefield Lock is reached which is near the end of section 12.

Here I had a pleasant lunch at the Coy Carp, an attractive inn with spacious grounds in a canalside setting. Afterwards a short walk towards Harefield for the U9 bus back to Uxbridge, another 90 minute journey on the tube back to Richmond and home where I arrived back somewhat later than usual at 6.30 pm.

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