The Grand Junction Canal Feeder from Ruislip #6
Gutteridge Wood to Charville Lane
Gutteridge Wood is one of the better woodlands in London. The only bugbear is the area’s extremely poor public transport, but this perhaps gives the woods their attraction – and remoteness from anything that pertains to be London! The main pathway heads eastwards, and any path that tangents off to the south crosses the former course of the feeder. The crossings are mostly wooden structures, but at least one brick accomdation bridge is still present. Some distance into the woods the main path crosses the feeder itself. Beyond here its extremely difficult to find the feeder, partially because the paths become poor quality and information is lacking. Local knowlegde is therefore essential in tracing the feeder.
Note: The feeder can be difficult to locate in Gutteridge Wood and the meadows. The first time visiting I spent a lot of time trying to find its route. The Hillingdon Trail doesnt follow the feeder and crosses it just once. There is no real path alongside the feeder most of the distance to Charville Lane.
The path through Gutteridge Wood
Remaining bridge (original?) across the feeder in Gutteridge Wood
The canal feeder as it heads east through Gutteridge Wood
Basically the feeder crosses a field after emerging from Gutteridge Wood and then passes to the west of an industrial estate. There’s not much to see of the feeder after Gutteridge Woods as the course is extremely overgrown, so it is best to return to the Hillingdon Trail and follow this to a stile where the feeder can be seen heading north to south across fields.
Note: Recent visits show the paths between Gutteridge Wood and Ten Acre Wood/Fir Tree Wood have become more confusing. There appears to be a new route for the Hillingdon Trail, not very well marked, whilst the older route seems to have fallen out of use and quite overgrown. A secondary route between these appears to be official since it is marked with trail marker posts too yet heads straight for an overgrown section with a brand new information board at the far end! Where all these meet, it is obvious that the continuation eastwards (a previously well marked pathway between two sets of fencing) has also fallen out of use and people just walk across the fields instead. It is obvious the Hillingdon Trail is pretty useless until one reaches Charville Lane itself.
The path from Gutteridge to Fir Tree Wood. Immediately past the stile on the far side the path crosses the bed of the feeder.
The above pictures show the Hillingdon Trail roughly six years apart. As the one on the right from June 2013 shows, the path is now disused and people just walk straight through the fields. But it is important because it marks the feeder’s course immediately beyond as it passes from north to south across the fields.
Left: The Ten Acre Wood crossing over the Yeading Brook. If you have come this far turn back and cross the previous field to find the feeder!
At the bottom of the field there appears to be a connection with a underground pipeline of sorts, not really sure whats going on here. The feeder then enters Fir Tree Woods but its course cannot be followed so one has to instead walk along the top of this underground pipeline (dont worry its hardstanding all the way!)
The feeder at the bottom of the field. In the background can be seen a gate & stile which leads onto the underground pipeline route.
The underground pipeline is the route to follow and this soon turns south towards Ten Acre Wood/Yeading Brook.
This hard standing continues as far as the new bridge across the Yeading Brook. Just before this take the right hand turn through a gate and then where there is a information board for Fir Tree Woods, an almost obscure path can be found roughly opposite. Take this and despite seemingly going nowhere it does soon meet the feeder. A wooden bridge crosses the course and then continunes on a new alignment to Charville Lane. (Previously one could follow the feeder from this point straight to Charville Lane but that is not possible now.)
If you are on other tracks further east, say on the Hillingdon Trail, its possible to find the feeder by heading for the Yeading Brook crossing and then turning left through the gated entrance into Fir Tree Wood and following the course as described earlier. If you have somehow come out at Charville Lane by the ‘Golden Bridge’ then it means the feeder has been missed out altogether, but can be picked up again by following Charville Lane a short way to where the Hillingdon Trail turns left to head south.
The modern bridge over the Yeading Brook between Ten Acre Wood and Cowlsip Meadow.
At the crossing over the Yeading Brook by Ten Acre Wood, turn southwards and then cross the Yeading Brook again. Take the path back up the brook a short distance and then into Cowslip Meadow. Some work is needed here and some struggle though undergrowth, but the feeder can be traced through woodland on the far side of Cowslip meadow. If one can follow the feeder’s usually very overgrown route, they will come to Charville Lane. There is a path opposite at this point and the Hillingdon trail signs appear again. Although parts of the feeder can be seen down here, its not a through route for walking along the feeder. One has a choice of carrying along the Hillindgdon trail and taking the various paths until they reach the feeder again by Weymouth Close, or returning to Charville Lane and walking through the housing estates to Weymouth Close
The feeder at Cowslip Meadow. Left: Impossibly overgrown feeder route – the only tell tale is the ‘line’ down the middle! Right: Just a few yards away to the south the feeder’s alignment is clear of obstructions
The canal feeder passes under Charville Lane at this point.
This view looking eastwards along Charville Lane is taken at the point where the feeder once passed under the lane. Despite the culvert missing, the feeder’s course is traceable on either side, and it turns to the south west to run parallel to Charville Lane for a distance.
The Golden Bridge, Charville Lane. Nice spot but not anywhere near the canal feeder. Seeing this means one is on the wrong route!
The Golden Bridge (opened 1986 by the actor Lord Bernard Miles) is named after a much earlier crossing dating from around the 1500’s. The site was the location for a demonstration in 1929 against landowners and the right to roam the countryside (again involving Bernard Miles.) It was the precessesdor to the mass tresspass of 1932 on Kinder Scout, Peak District. Charville Lane itself is claimed to be an ancient trackway, whether this is correct is not known. However it was once called Sharvel Lane or Golden Bridge Lane, and originally an old country lane towards Northolt and possibly Harrow.
The Hillingdon Trail takes the non-feeder route from the Yeading Brook through Cowlsip Meadow past the Golden Bridge and along Charville Lane before turning southwards into another nature reserve – missing the feeder altogether!
Sometimes I begin to think that a certain Count Saknussem must have had a hand in plotting the course of the Hillingdon Trail!
This tiny ditch at the bottom of a field that parallels Charville Lane (which is behind the bushes at top of picture) is actually the feeder! Most of the feeder’s width has been filled in leaving just a narrow strip. At this point the feeder is running south west
Further on the feeder’s route turns sharp south east, but lies amongst thick undergrowth as it parallels houses in Grosvenor Avenue, to the south of Charville Lane. Despite it being a sunny day almost no light penetrated this location. As previously mentioned, there’s a choice of returning to the Hillindgdon trail and taking the various paths southwards until they reach the feeder again by Weymouth Close, or returning to Charville Lane and walking via the housing estates to Weymouth Close
Next: Towards Yeading
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