Dog Kennel Covert
As you emerge from underneath the M4 dogleg right then left
to follow a path through a patch of woodland known as Dog Kennel
Covert. Beyond the short stretch of woodland is a grassy strip that in
turn gives way to a hedged track. Where the track ends turn right and
up a short track to reach the Crane pub (second image below).
Watersplash Lane and the Crane Pub
Last view of the Crane
This is where the LOOP enters one of its less picturesque
stretches. We're about to leave the Crane to follow the Grand Union
Canal, which in its nineteenth century heyday was the principal trade
route between London and Birmingham, England's second biggest city. The
two mile section through Hayes is largely industrialised. To get to the
canal we first have to negotiate a new road layout. Cross the road and
turn right, crossing the Crane once more; this is the last time you'll
see it. Once across the river you come to a large roundabout. The
north-south road here is the A312, a busy dual carriageway. Turn left
and walk along the pavement beside this road, uphill over a viaduct
(second image below). This viaduct crosses the Grand Union Canal (third
image below); immediately afterwards, find the rather "functional"
(i.e. damn ugly) flight of steps to your left and go down to the
towpath on the north bank of the canal. The canal crosses the Crane
just here. This is also where we encounter the first London LOOP
waymark since Kingston Bridge.
The A312 and the Grand Union Canal
If you have an interest in Britain's waterways then
it's worthwhile tracking back along the towpath towards London, for a
couple of hundred meters in this direction is the main London junction
of the Grand Union, where boats can choose to go down to the Thames at
Brentford, or take the branch to Paddington Basin (from where one could
continue to Little Venice, Camden Lock, City Road Basin and ultimately
Limehouse at the London docks. But otherwise we're headed west.
The Grand Union Canal towpath through Hayes
Our route now lies to the west, along the towpath on
the north side of the canal. In just over a quarter of a mile you pass
under a railway bridgem the main line out of Paddington; a few hundred
meters beyond here a road bridge provides access to Hayes and
Harlington station if you wish to break the journey.
Grand Union Canal, Hayes
The canal was, of course, a major trade route in its
day and many canalside stretches are lined by factories, warehousing
and various other industies even today. The canal through Hayes is one
such stretch and the surroundings are therefore not very elegant. Just
over a mile into the canal walk the canal and towpath follow a long
left-hand curve, passing under a bridge. Shortly after the end of the
curve the LOOP takes a diversion away from the canal to run through
The canal and Stockley Park
Access to Stockley Park from the canalside is through a
metal gate. The terrain looks initially like an old tip or landfill
site, and that's pretty much what it was, but it has been remodelled in
recent years into a smart new business park and a golf course. You
reach the business park first, an area of pristine new buildings
surrounded by greenery, water features and wide roads. Walking pass the
first block of offices (second image above) cross the road and bear
left to find the tree-lined path pictured above. The route is a little
confusing beyond here, even though there is now the occasional waymark.
Follow the map and the advice in the standard guidebook. curving
gradually left until you approach the prominent golfcourse clubhouse.
The cafe in the clubhouse is open to the public, although this fact is
not well advertised. Beyond the clubhouse is a confusing array of
gravel drives and car parks; aim generally northwest for a path
fringing a recent plantaion of trees and shrubs. This path curves back
to the west and climbs uphill towards a single tower suspension bridge
Suspension bridge, Stockley park
The suspension bridge carries a footpath linking the
east and west halves of Stockley Park.
The heathland area of Stockley Park
You're in Yiewsley now. The western section of Stockley
Park is smaller and wilder than the eastern section, and the first
thing you encounter is a little heathland knoll from where there's a
pretty decent view to the south and west. Take the path going downhill
to the southwest (second picture above). The heathland scene continues
and there is a brielway to your left. Leave a playing field to your
right and continue along the path until you reach a road. At some point
in the near future a path is due to run straight on, running alongside
a final section of parkland, to reach the canal; until it's open a
diversion is in effect to the right, along a road passing through an
industrial estate (third image below).
Park and industrial estate, Yiewsley
At the next road junction turn left to reach the
towpath of the Grand Union once more.
The canal towpath to West Drayton
This section of towpath is pretty much the same as that
through Hayes a coupe of miles back, but we're approaching the edge of
the built-up area once again. In about five hundred meters we reach
West Drayton railway station, another good point at which to break the
route. West Drayton lays on the south bank of the canal, Yiewsley on
the north. Here the canal and towpath swing half right to head
northwest through what at first is a narrow channel between the
buildings to either side, but after passing through yet another
industrial area the buildings on the West Drayton side come to an end.
We've reached the western edge of Greater London, the Colne valley.
The Grand Union, the junction, and the Slough branch
The greater part of the Colne forms the old boundary
between Middlesex and Buckinghamshire, now of course the boundary
between Buckinghamshire and London. The valley of the colne was rich in
sands and gravel and over the centuries these despoits have been
heavily quarried. The legacy of this quarrying is that the Colne is now
bordered on both sides by a host of ponds and lakes, and the original
course of the river is actually difficult to trace on the map thanks to
it being virtually lost between the various bodies of water.
Grand Union Canal, Slough branch
Across the southern end of these old sandpits a branch of the Grand
Union was constructed to reach Slough, and it's along part of this
branch that the LOOP now runs. Look out for the steel footbridge in the
second image above; it's imadiately before the junction with the Slough
branch and carries the footpath and the LOOP. We turn left across the
briage and follow the footpath along the south side of the branch.
We're now in the open country of the sandpits and the atmosphere is far
We follow the Slough branch for not quite a mile. It's
dead straight. The vegetation on either side is dense and there's
little to see. The Canal crosses over the Frays river, a branch of the
Colne, and then approaches the Colne itself. Just before this point we
go to the right over a second steel footbridge to enter an extensive
area of woodland.
Following the Colne through Huntsmoor Park
After some 300 metres into the wood, although it seems
rather longer, the Colne comes alongside to the left. Although they are
not seen we're in the midst of a cluster of old gravel pits now known
as Little Britain Lakes.
The Colne, Huntsmoor Park
A short way ahead you come to a track to your right,
with one of the Little Britain Lakes ahead. Here you need to turn left
and cross the Colne by a footbridge, whereupon you come to another
road-end; turn right again and follow the path along the western bank
of the Colne. Having crossed the river you are now in Buckinghamshire;
the Colne marks the boundary.
The Colne, Huntsmoor Park
This stretch along the banks of the Colne lasts about a
mile and is very pleasant. The pastures of Huntsmoor Park lay to the
west. The line of trees on each side of the river is pretty dense but
there are occasional glimpses to the ribbon of pastures lining the far
bank, sandwiched between the river and the canal (roughly a quarter of
a mile away). Beyond te canal are the residential streets of Cowley, a
suburb of Uxbridge.
The Colne, Huntsmoor Park
Eventually you come out at a road, Iver Lane. Turn
right and cross the river, leaving Buckinghamshire and re-entering
The LOOP approaching Iver Lane