The 2020 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2021 programme mid August 2021
Head of Open House’s Introduction
I’m pleased to introduce this cycle itinerary, brought to you by Greenford Quay, who are working with Open House in 2020. This year, we are formatting our itineraries slightly differently. In 2020, all walking and cycle itineraries will focus on exterior architecture and outdoor spaces so that they can be enjoyed in a socially distanced way. This also means that you can enjoy them at any time of year, so don’t worry if you run out of time on the Open House weekend, these itineraries will be available all year round.
Greenford Quay is a new development in West London which will bring people together with their environment by providing infrastructure which will enable easier access to London’s green and blue spaces. New footpaths and bridges will enable residents and visitors to more easily access local parks and the canal. The landscapes around the buildings are open for all to explore and enjoy. The site is also very easily accessible to Central London and by bike, providing the best of both worlds for Londoners, easy access to the city and the peace and quiet of West London’s parks and canals.
This self-guided cycle tour will take you from Greenford Quay, along the canal in an easterly direction to end the tour in Paddington. Along this route, you will pass thirteen green spaces and be able to enjoy the canal path for around nine miles. The different spaces and their addresses are detailed here so that you can break up your canal-side cycle with visits to some, or all, of the green spaces.
Directions - the aim of the route is to follow the canal path in a easterly direction to reach Paddington. Here is some information about the green spaces you may want to visit along the way.
Start at Greenford Quay (Tillermans Court, Grenan Square, Greenford UB6 0FT)
Greenford Quay is an exciting new waterfront neighbourhood in West London. Situated in Greenford in Ealing, Greenford Quay sits beside the Grand Union Canal with beautiful Horsenden Hill on its doorstep.
Its past is rooted in wheat and tea, as the open land attracted renowned British industries that benefited from the railway and canal systems. Greystar are reimagining this once disused site, that features an incredible listed heritage building, transforming it for 21st century living in West London.
The phased build will deliver 2,118 new, high quality homes across seven buildings over eight hectares of renovated waterfront land, with green spaces linking Horsenden Hill to the central square. With a new canal footbridge from the end of September, renovated waterfront and public spaces, Greenford Quay forms a new heart for the area that reconnects with water and woodland for all to enjoy.
Horsenden Hill Park (Horsenden Hill, UB6 7QL)
Horsenden Hill Park is the largest single nature conservation site in Ealing. Made up of three main areas it covers 100 hectares. Each of the park's distinctive sections have a different feel and purpose. Horsenden East, contains large areas of woodland as well as smaller grassland sections which are grazed by cattle. There are also amazing views from the peak of Horsenden East which is the highest point in Ealing. Horsenden West contains wildflower meadows and ponds, whereas on the south side of the canal you will find Paradise Fields, which contains scapes, reed beds and lagoons.
Just next to Horsenden Hill Park is Sudbury Golf Club which is celebrating their centenary in 2020.
One Tree Hill Recreation Ground (Norton Road Wembley)
Originally named after the single tree that made the park it’s home, One Tree Hill has now certainly outgrown its name. From the top of its hill you have views towards Harrow on the Hill, Wembley and central London. You can also find the former allotment area, which has now been incorporated into the park and is a recognised wildlife area.
Further south from One Tree Hill Recreation Ground is Pitshanger Park (West Ealing, W5 1LS)
Pitshanger Park is located in the Brent River Park and is designated as Metropolitan Open Land. The park comprises of large areas of grassland. The park is unique in that its bordered by the River Brent which encourages a great deal of wildlife to the area. A few species to look out for are water voles, king fisher and orchids.
Continuing east along the canal you will reach Wormwood Scrubs (Scrubs Lane, White City, W10 6AH)
At 67 hectares, Wormwood Scrubs is the largest open space in Hammersmith and Fulham. The park changes as you move west to east- the western side is more overgrown whilst the eastern has larger, clearer areas for kite flying, sports and picnics. The park is home to almost 100 species of birds and 250 species of wildflowers, as well as 18 hectares of tree cover.
History, credit London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
In the early 19th century the entire district was open fields, and included several areas of common land. In 1812 an area of 77 hectares known as Wormwood Scrubs was leased by the War Office from the Manor of Fulham in order to exercise cavalry horses. In 1879 Parliament passed The Wormwood Scrubs Act, which aimed to create a "metropolitan exercising ground" for the military and provide the Scrubs for "the perpetual use by the inhabitants of the metropolis for exercise and recreation". Under this act, the military were able to expel civilians from the Scrubs whenever they were training, but allowed civilians free use of the area when they were not. To ensure that the Scrubs were kept as open land for all to enjoy, the act banned the military from building any permanent structures other than rifle butts, one of which survives today as a wall in the Linford Christie Stadium. Wormwood Scrubs remains one of the largest open spaces close to Central London.
Kensal Green Cemetery and West London Crematorium (Harrow Road, Kensal Green, W10 4RA)
The General Cemetery Company purchased land for the cemetery in 1831 and held a competition for the design of a new Cemetery at Kensal Green. Of 48 entrants, the chosen winner was Henry Edward Kendall whose design proposed a Gothic style. However, the then Chairman preferred Neoclassicism and asked his surveyor, John Griffith, to draw up the plans instead. The final landscape designs were courtesy of Richard Forrest, who had been Head Gardener at Syon Park.
Kensington Memorial Park (Saint Mark’s Road, W10 6BZ)
Kensington Memorial Park was made possible in 1923 by funds provided by the Kensington War Memorial Committee. It was created as a tribute to the fallen soldiers of WWI. The park was extensively refurbished between 2006 and 2015, and today contains water play areas and playgrounds, and is wheelchair accessible.
Just next to Kensington Memorial Park, you can find the Carmelite Monastery Gardens (82A St Mark's Road, W10 6NW), a small garden which forms the grounds of the monastery.
Queen’s Park Wildlife Garden (Ilbert Street, W10 4RS)
Just to the north of the canal is Queen’s Park Wildlife Garden- a small area which hosts a variety of gardening classes. The park is a great place to go for some tranquil time, with specific areas that are kept dog and jogger free.
Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park (Bosworth Road W10)
Emslie Horniman acquired this land in 1911 and dedicated it to the London County Council, stating that he considered the land ‘suitable to lay out as a public garden, with sand-pit, etc.’ Horniman, who had an interest in the arts, commissioned Charles Voysey to design the park. You will come across Voysey Garden on your visit. In its modern day history, you may recognise it as the official launch pad of Notting Hill Festival.
Meanwhile Gardens at Trellick Tower (156-158 Kensal Road, W10 5BN)
Meanwhile Gardens was established by Jamie McCollough, an artist and engineer, in 1976 to create an area for the community to come together during a period of frustration across the nation. Discussions with the council over the land led Jamie to be given temporary permission to use the land, while the council decided what they would do with it. He named it ‘Meanwhile Gardens’. It has remained a community led garden ever since and sits at the foot of Trellick Tower – a Grade II* listed Brutalist block by architect Erno Goldfinger.
Westbourne Green Open Space (157 Bourne Terrace, W2 6PB) is the last green space before you reach Paddington.
This space is split into three sections by the intersecting roads that link the housing blocks from the Westway with the canal. The largest section is a mainly grassed area bordered by a wildflower meadow and fitness trail. The second area contains a playground as well as the entrance to the local junior school. The final section extends to the canal and has a dual-use cycle and pedestrian path.
Little Venice (Blomfield Road, W9 2PF)
Little Venice can be found just north of Paddington and is a great place to explore London’s canal community. The neighbourhood is often included as a ‘go to’ place for Londoners because of the photogenic canal boats, waterside cafes and the occasional canal festival.
End at Paddington
Total moving time (canal route) – 1 hour 20 minutes *
Total distance – 9 miles (14.4km) *
*please note, total time and distance is calculated for the canal route, total distance may vary if visitors should choose to stop off at each listed location