The Hillingdon Trail

A 20 mile walk through the western suburbs of London.

The multi-faceted character of London can be seen in this walk (yellow line), ranging from views of countryside (more or less) unchanged for 100s of years, including scenic areas such as Rickmansworth Lakes and Bayhurst and Mad Bess Woods. The trail passes by the Grand Union canal (light blue line) built during the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19 centuries and Brunel's Great Western Railway. London "Underground" also originates in the Victorian era, whilst the 20th century brings the (M4/M25) motorways and airports (Northolt, home of the Queens's flight and Heathrow), with NATO air command centres, industrial estates, gasometers, sewage works, water skiing at Ruislip Lido and famous Heart Science hospitals (Harefield) thrown in for good measure.

Use this map reference to get started with your navigation. The area extends from Rickmansworth in the north-west to Cranford (Crane ford!), with central London on the right of the map. The courses of the Rivers Crane, Pinn and Brent and Roxbourne and Yeading Brooks can be seen in their entirety on this map reference, together with sections of the Colne (West), Wandle (South East) and the Thames (South).

The walk starts and ends in the London Borough of Hillingdon (shown in outline in the map to the right) in the English county of Middlesex (meaning middle saxon). It also intersects with a number of other walks, including routes along Yeading Brook (red line), the River Pinn (green line, now named the Celandine Route), the Colne Valley routes to the west of Hillingdon and sections of the London LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path) and Capital Ring. At the south-eastern end of the trail, you can join the walk (or take a boat) along the Paddington branch of the Grand Union canal, pass by the original site of William Perkin's historic dye works, fly a kite at Horsenden Hill, visit the the scenic Little Venice (where a spur along the Regent's canal eventually joins with the Lee Valley system in East London and the historic Abbey Mills and Crossness temples). End at the high-tech Paddington basin terminus where Harefield Hospital will relocate in 2008, and close to where Fleming discovered penicillin. If instead you take the Brentford Spur of the canal at Bull's Bridge, you will pass by the famous Hanwell locks and Brunel's Historic Three bridges ancient monument, ending at the river Thames at Brentford just opposite the famous Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. At Hanwell Locks, you can join another splendid walk along the River Brent Path. Yeading Brook in turn evolves into the historic River Crane close to the southern end of the Hillingdon trail, and this walk passes through Twickenham (close to the famous stadium, home of English rugby football) and ends at the River Thames at Isleworth by joining with the Thames Path, a major 200 mile walk along one of England's longest rivers.

There are a fair number of English Pubs either directly along the route or pretty close by, and the walk can easily be broken into 2-5 mile segments accessible from a car park (marked P on the map).

To see comments and annotations about each section of the trail, just move the mouse over the map (you must have Javascript enabled in your browser for anything to happen). If you click the mouse, you might even get a photograph or two of the trail!

For other descriptions of walks in West London, see;

  • Perivale Wood, the second oldest nature reserve in the UK (Wicken Fen being the oldest) and famed for its spectacular bluebell display in May.
  • Pub Walks in Middlesex and West London, David Hall and Rosemary Hall, ISBN 1-85306-221-9
  • Pub Walks in North London, Leigh Hatts. ISBN 1-85306-427-0.
  • More information about the Hillingdon trail, along with other walks in London, is available on the site.

(C) Henry S. Rzepa, January 1999 to February 2007.

Down to Ickenham Narsh, can be very muddy Walk along High Road Ickenham A walk across Ruislip golf course Past the back gardens of houses in Ruisli Ruislip Lido, with Water Ski-ing, train trips, and even a beach Copse Wood, and Battle of Britain House Mad Bess Wood, with car park Bayhurst wood country park, with Barbeque area Walk through woods and past ponds Australian war graves Northern Spur Perhaps the most spectacular views from here Uphill, through leafy woods Walk along Grand Union Canel, past sewage works Northern start of Hillingdon trail, overlapping with Colne Valley Walk Site of Harefield Hospital, famous for a long history of heart transplants South of Cranford Park, now going along the River Crane to Isleworth Part of the River Colne walk, well worth visiting London Borough of Hillingdon