Osterley Circular Walk (7 miles)

This walk starts and finishes at Osterley Underground Station (Piccadilly Line), visiting Osterley ParkNorwood Green, the Grand Union Canal and Hanwell. It is an easy walk of 7.02 miles / 11.33 kilometres, using mainly surfaced or semi-surfaced paths, apart from within Long Wood Nature Reserve.

 


 

1. Turn right out of the station entrance and almost immediately right again down an alleyway to emerge into Bassett Gardens. Turn right here and take the next left, crossing Jersey Road at the end to enter Osterley Park over a low bar in the gap in the wall ahead.

2. Turn immediately right and follow a fence to the main drive, where turn left up the avenue. Where the drive swings left, go ahead past a gate and beside a lake. Follow the main path to pass in front of the house, then take the path running off to the right past the remaining buildings.

Osterley Park House was built around 1575 by Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange, but was extensively remodelled by Robert Adam after being commissioned by the-then owner Francis Child, the founder of Child’s Bank. Other owners have included Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice and William Waller, the Civil War Parliamentary General, who died there. The house contains one of the most complete examples of Adam’s work. Owned by the National Trust, it is regularly open to the public. The stables are largely Elizabethan and are now a tearoom. Toilets can be found off the path leading off to the right.

Osterley Park House 
Osterley Park House
 

3. Go through the gate at the end of the remaining buildings and immediately fork left. Continue forward to pass a pair of lodges into the lane, where turn left past Osterley Park Farm. Osterley Park Farm dates from the 18th century and has high brick garden walls.

4. Follow the lane over the M4 motorway. As the lane bends left, go forward over a well-defined cross-field path. Go through alleyways and over an estate road to emerge onto Tentelow Lane by the Plough pub. Cross the road by the pedestrian crossing 30 metres to the right, then turn left to pass in front of the church and cross Norwood Green Road onto the Green. The Plough dates back 400 years. St Mary’s Church dates back to the 12th century, but was heavily restored in 1864 and 1896, so is almost entirely Victorian in appearance.

5. Turn right and walk along Norwood Green through the avenue of trees parallel to the road, recrossing the road by the lights at the end, and turn right along busy Norwood Road. You pass a parade of shops and pub called the Wolf; at a safe distance further on is another pub called the Lamb. Go over the bridge here and turn right onto the Grand Union Canal towpath which we follow, with the canal on the right, for two miles (three kilometres).

Drop-out point: If needed, the 120 bus, running along Norwood Road, can take you to Southall Station, or to Hounslow Central and Northolt Underground Stations.

The Grand Union Canal was built following an Act of Parliament in 1793 and fully opened in 1805. It connects London to Birmingham via Braunston on the Oxford Canal and a number of cast-iron mileage posts have been reinstated along its length. One of these — the 89-mile marker — is near the bridge where our walk joins. The initials GJC relate to the original name — the Grand Junction Canal — which it bore until 1929 when it was amalgamated with other canals. The canal was important for bringing building materials into the rapidly expanding city of London, especially bricks and tiles from the-then county of Middlesex. Hay for London’s horses was another major cargo.

6. Two hundred metres after we join the canal, Bixley Field is passed. This was a former brickfield where bricks for the remodelling of Buckingham Palace in 1826 were produced. After the next bridge, the towpath rises and falls over the entrance to Maypole Dock, constructed as late as 1912, but this is now hidden from view. It served the Monsted Margarine Factory — the largest margarine factory in Europe. Another 230 metres brings us to Norwood Top Lock. The adjacent bridge has black painted iron strips on the corners. The grooves worn in the nearest of these were caused by the towropes that would catch canalside structures back in the days of horsedrawn barges.

The next bridge looks rather nondescript on approach, but it is a listed ancient monument — Three Bridges — designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and unique on the waterways system as being the only place where a canal, road and railway meet at the same point. (Pedants will point out that there are, of course, only two bridges!)

Three Bridges 
Three Bridges
 

7. Soon the wall of the former Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum comes into view, together with the six locks of the Hanwell Flight. The asylum has a fine section of high wall containing variegated bricks. Hanwell Asylum (now part of Ealing Hospital) was opened in 1831 and was self-sufficient. There was a farm producing its own food, and even a brewery and graveyard. By 1841 there were 90 staff looking after 1,302 patients. Coal was delivered to the asylum by canal and the (now blocked-up) entrance can be seen just before the third lock.

The Hanwell Flight of six locks — another listed ancient monument — drop the canal some 53 feet (16 metres), and each lock when full holds around 65,000 gallons (295,490 litres) of water! Towards the end of the lock flight you will notice a river running parallel on your left. This is the River Brent whose waters form the canal between here and Brentford.

Recommended pub: If you are in need of refreshments, turn left for 50 metres along Green Lane just after the bridge over the Brent, to reach the Fox pub, where food and real ale are available.

8. Just after the next bridge over the canal, close to the 91-mile marker, turn left up steps and left again along Trumpers Way. Where this swings left, go forward through gates to cross the railway track then, immediately after, go left through a swing-gate to walk parallel with the railway with a high bank on your right.

9. On reaching a gate and stile, continue forward on the same path to enter Long Wood Nature Reserve, part of Brent River Park. Ninety metres further on, where a short section of low hedge ends, turn right. Continue around a right curve, cross a stream, ascend and descend steps, and go along a board walk to reach a cross-path between gates. Go through both sets of gates and emerge onto Windmill Lane close to the motorway bridge. Long Wood Nature Reserve is a remnant of ancient woodland. Trees include oak, ash, alder and maple, and guelder rose and golden saxifrage can be found among other plants.

10. Turn left along Windmill Lane for about 500 metres, as far as the Hare and Hounds pub. Look for a narrow footpath across the road, opposite the lamp-post immediately following the pub. Take this secluded path to emerge by the lodge gates to Osterley Park. The lodges were designed by Robert Adam and the main approach to the park was originally from this direction. Re-enter the park between the lodges, continuing between fields. Enter a band of woodland, water becoming visible on both sides. As the lane bends, look for a small gate on the left and pass through it to take a path through the woods.

11. On exiting the woods, follow the side of the lake, the grand façade of the house coming back into view. When this stretch of water ends, swing slightly right over grass, and go through the gate in the fence ahead, which will bring you out by the lake first encountered near the start of the walk. Turn left here, and follow the drive out of the park and into Thornbury Road opposite. On reaching the main road, turn right to reach Osterley Underground Station again.

 


 

© Mike Biggs, Ramblers (Inner London Area), 2015.

If you have any comments about this walk, or notice that it needs updating to take account of changes on the route, then please contact Mike at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.