Leader: Geoff Stilwell 24 Miles – 38.6km
There had already been a lot of online activity about this ride as the Overground Line was closed between Willesden Junction and all stations east. There was a special service betwen Stratford and Willesden Junction but using a different line.
We decided we would still start at Sidings Community Centre and cycle to Willesden Junction. Several people had emailed to say they’d meet us there or at Richmond.
I met four riders at Sidings: Nicola, Carissa, Juliet and Leo. Leo was a little disappointed that there were no other young boys that he knew. They were playing football and had been on a sleepover so were unable to come.
After some tyre pumping we set off. We arrived at Willesden Junction just having missed the 10:26am train and were told that the next was 10:56 (my fault as I had to go home to retrieve a forgotten camera). We met Jiten at Willesden and Will came along a little later. Jiten was in touch with Michael who had caught the earlier train and was told to convey to the others waiting that we were on our way.
It was an uneventful journey to Richmond and not too busy considering the line closures and we arrived at Richmond Green about 11:30 where we met up with the aforementioned Michael plus Tony and Steven so we were ten riders in all.
The route went across Richmond Green and down to the river. As we crossed over Richmond Weir Footbridge we noticed people being shown around as we realised it was Open House Weekend where places not normally available are open to the public.
On the north side we were able to ride alongside the river a little way than had to go along St Margarets Road and then back alongside the river again. There is a lot of building work going on down in Isleworth so we were unable to get to one of my favourite views of the river from Lion Wharf Road. Soon we were past the London Apprentice and cycling up the drive of Syon Park.
Because we were running a little late the concensus was that we would only have a comfort break at Syon Garden Centre and not stop for refreshments and Osterley Park was not a lot further.
Coming out of Syon Park in Brentford we quickly made our way through pathways and quiet roads to Syon Lane and Gillette Corner. As this junction is very busy we turned off left and crossed the Great West Road at a quieter junction. A cyclepath along the northern side of the A4 took us to a road that led us to the entrance to another long drive into Osterley Park.
After the car park you cycle round the pond and Osterley House is revealed. Unfortunately there is a lot of restoration going on and it was surrounded by scaffolding and covered in tarpaulin.
As we were eating our lunch we wondered where Nicola had gone. She reappeared 15 minutes later after having gone around the interior of Osterley House. Although Osterley Park House is run by the National Trust and would normally charge for admission, as it was Open House this weekend it was free. Nicola had been through the park many times but had never been inside before. Many of the rest of us thought we would take advantage of this and wandered, albeit quickly, through the ground floor and basement rooms. the photos here give some indication of the interior. One room was called Wigs and Bums where you could try on wigs and bustles. You can see the result here.
After spending longer than we originally intended we set off north out of Osterley, over the M4, and across a large field. We felt like we were deep in the countryside. Leo asked if we were now outside London. The other side of the field we were back on the roads again but shortly we crossed a canal bridge and down some steps onto the towpath of the Grand Union Canal.
This portion of the canal passes by several locks known as the Hanwell Flight. Fortunately it’s all downhill. There was again some activity due to Open House and people being shown around the locks. We stopped once to observe the sign explaining about the dock from the canal to the mental hospital that is now Ealing Hospital.
Turning off the canal just before the M4 crosses we returned to the roads where we zig-zagged down quiet roads, crossing busy roads at pedestrian crossings, down through South Ealing Cemetary, past the Clayponds Rehabilitation Hospital and out opposite a side entrace to Gunnersbury Park.
I had planned to see a bit more of the park this time so we turned south and cycled along the path following the cicumference past a pond, a ruined Gothic Tower and Potomac and north parallel to the North Circular Road to the Mansion.
This was also covered in scaffolding and tarpaulin, whole swathes of the park were fenced off as some serious renovations are taking place. The cafe we stopped at last year had been demolished but we were able to stop at the toilets. We also found another, smaller, cafe in the centre of the park. There we stopped for refreshments.
I received a phone call (aren’t mobiles wonderful?) from Morten and Oliver. They were out for an afternoon ride following the route in the opposite direction and hoped to meet up with us while we were on our way home.
Setting off northward we soon came to Ealing Broadway, which was probably the busiest bit of the ride, but we safely negotiated the busy bit and found a safe haven on Haven Green where we met Morten and Oliver. Now we were twelve.
After introductions we set off north again encountering the only significant hill on the ride which brought us up to and across Hanger Lane using a Toucan Crossing and across the Western Avenue (A41) using a subway. Here we said goodbye to Tony who wanted a more direct way back to Harrow. The rest of us proceeded onto another section of the Grand Union Canal which took us east, back into town. Just past Ladbroke Grove Michael and Will left us to go their separate ways
Just before Little Venice we crossed over Lord Hills Bridge leaving Steven to continue east along the canal. Eight of us left went through the back streets to Randolph Avenue. Here we said goodbye to Nicola. We turned right at Carlton Vale crossing Maida Vale into Carlton Hill and worked our way through the quiet streets into West Hampstead saying goodbye to Juliet and Leo at Boundary Road and Carissa at West End Lane.
Jiten went straight to Kilburn Station to catch a train back to Wembley while Morten Oliver and I returned to Sidings. Everyone safely home.
The weather stayed pretty good all day. the sun did come out on occasion but it was mostly cloudy and that’s the way we liked it. It saved us getting hot and uncomfortable. I think I can speak for all when I say it was a very happy ride. I know there were some achy knees towards the end. 24 miles does that to you if you’re not used to it. Morten and Oliver actually cycled 19 miles from West Hampstead to Haven Green in Ealing and back, so well done to them.
This was the route.
Full collection of Photos on Flickr.
What you said about the ride:
Thank you for the excellent planning and the upfront sharing of route map which allowed Oliver and I to meet you half-way (and therefore conquering the only major hill twice!).
Morten and Oliver
This was a ride which I thoroughly enjoyed, through some lovely parks that I don’t visit often. Although it wasn’t sunny the weather was fine for cycling. One of the most memorable bits of the ride was going through a field which felt like I was in the countryside. And I loved riding canal side. The company was good and Geoff’s leading was faultless. Thanks Geoff for another great ride.