The day’s weather looked promising when I arrived at Sidings where I met two neighbours who arrived soon after. Moving on to Brondesbury Station we met another rider buying his ticket. On the train to Richmond was another rider who boarded the same train at Camden Road. Opposite the theatre on Richmond Green was one more rider who had cycled down earlier (very keen) so then we were six: Steven, Nicola, Will , Tracey, Max and myself (Geoff).
After allowing a little time for any others to arrive we set off for the footbridge across the river and the picturesque view of Isleworth. There I received a phone call informing me that we’d left people behind who had arrived just after we’d left. I went back for the other three riders — Dympna, Peter & Barbara — while Steven led the others to Syon Park where we regrouped in the Garden Centre Cafe.
Isleworth and Syon had connections with Henry V who bequeathed land for a monastery which was finally situated at Syon. Syon House was built on the site in 1548. Two Battles of Brentford were fought around here: one in 1016 against the Danes and the other in 1642 between Royalists and Roundheads during the civil war.
Leaving Syon Park we rode through the backstreets of Brentford, past Syon Lane Station, avoiding the busy Gillette Corner and crossing the Great West Road (A4) at the next junction west and from there a short ride to the entrance to Osterly Park.
Osterley House reveals itself beautifully beyond a small lake. The original house was built in the 1570s of which only the Stable block remains (where the cafe is now). The current building was designed by Robert Adam. We had lunch at Osterley and visited the second-hand bookshop and gift shop before we set off northward.
The M4 unfortunately cuts Osterley Park in half. We exited the southern half and crossed the M4 over a small bridge. Taking a pathway across a field we came out on Tenterlow Lane in Norwood Green and through smaller roads onto the Grand Union Canal.
This branch of the canal heads back to Brentford past the flight of six Hanwell Locks and the Ealing Hospital which was once Hanwell Mental Asylum. fortunately it’s all downhill. Here the canal also joins the River Brent. Just after Osterley Lock and before the M4 crosses the canal we left the canal path and re-emerged onto the roads at Boston Manor. Zig-zagging across South Ealing and through South Ealing Cemetery we wound our way to Gunnersbury Park.
Entering a western gate we circumnavigated the park counter-clockwise to find the cafe where we stopped for coffee and snacks.
Exiting the park we continued north up to Ealing Broadway which was probably the busiest part of the route. Safely round it we continued north and encountered the only significant hill on the route. Across Hanger Lane and through a small wood, we came out by Park Royal Station. An underpass took us under the Western Avenue again and around the new Royal Waterside Estate where they are accommodating cyclists well. Soon we were back on the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal heading east.
Coming off the towpath at Lord Hill’s Footbridge we had a look at the Gothic Styled St Mary Magdelene Church designed by George Edmund Street who was also responsible for the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand.
Steve decided to leave us and stay on the canal, heading back home that way. The others followed to the Collonade Hotel in Warrington Crescent, Maida Vale, where a blue plaque informed us that it was Alan Turing’s birthplace.
Continuing north through the back streets of Maida Vale, across the Edgware Road at Carlton Vale and through the back streets of West Hampstead home.
This was a great ride, even though I say so myself. It has such varied terrain, quite gentle in terms of inclines, some quite interesting sights to see and cafes in every park. And the company was great too. Thanks everyone for coming.
Here’s what you said about the ride:
“Thankyou for leading us on a very enjoyable ride. I really enjoyed visiting houses & parks, I had never visited before despite living in London for 26 years! I am definitely going to take my family back to both Syon & Osterley House/Park, but we will have to use public transport instead (pity).”
“A brilliant ride – it started well and got even better as we explored mostly (for me) unfamiliar territory along which would also would suddenly emerge into a route that I was very familiar with. It was great to discover such a great variety of routes, with quiet and hidden-away back streets and alley-ways, then passing by and alongside major arterial routes (on cycle paths), crossing ploughed fields, going through woodland, along canal and river-side, riding over motorways, and taking short-cuts through wooded cemeteries – plus of course exploring several parks, being amazed that London contains even more green space than I’d realised. With ideal weather and a friendly and appreciative group of fellow cyclists of course!”
“The RICH_mond wonderful ride was Free where no one lost their Balance; our majestic master guided us effortlessly through idyllic parks and towpaths, and just like a good lover, he had great judgement and excellent timing – a nice touch indeed.”