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Harmondsworth Moor: Walkways Near Runways

Relaxation for the whole family close to Heathrow Airport through an attractive area of regenerated land.

Distance 2.2 miles (3.6km)

Minimum time 1hr 30min

Ascent/gradient Negligible

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Mainly gravel paths

Landscape Green belt, rivers and artificial hills

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 160 Windsor, Weybridge & Bracknell

Start/finish TQ 058778

Dog friendliness Not allowed in churchyard

Parking Limited parking in Harmondsworth village

Public toilets By car park in Harmondsworth Moor

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1 Turn right by the Five Bells pub into Moor Lane and follow this as it curves and narrows before coming to a bridge. Turn right into Harmondsworth Moor - an area of parkland that has been established by British Airways using 240 acres (97ha) of reclaimed land.

2 Take the right fork alongside the fence beside the Duke of Northumberland's River and continue, keeping to the right. Ahead is a mound, shaped like an amphitheatre, that faces a series of large granite and sandstone blocks. This is known as the Giant's Teeth and the blocks were part of the old Waterloo Bridge, before it was demolished in 1935.

3 Beside the Giant's Teeth is a raised, fenced area that you can enter through wooden gates and then follow a path to reach a suntrap with two benches. When you leave this area turn right, across a wooden bridge. Next, cross a footbridge, and go past a granite sculpture of a beetle standing on what was once an orchard, to go through the gate. Cross the road and go through a kissing gate. At the Swan Lake, which is adjacent to the Waterside office complex, turn right and follow this path through a gate a little further on the right. Cross the road into the car park and go through a gate on the far right. Turn left and follow a path towards a bridge over the River Colne. To your right here is Half Moon Meadow, a popular area for picnics. Turn left past the ponds. Take a right fork to reach the boardwalk over a pond and, after this, turn left to cross a footbridge. Go through a kissing gate and turn right to cross a bridge.

4 Turn right and then take the left-hand fork uphill to reach The Keyhole, where you'll see more stones from Waterloo Bridge. Also, you'll have a good view of the Wraysbury River ahead and the surrounding area. Notice the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson that are aptly carved in the blocks: 'For words like nature half reveal and half conceal'.

5 Follow the path back down and take the left fork leading to a kissing gate and a bridge back over the Wraysbury River - this gravel-based river has a good supply of chub. Turn left through the gate. At a fenced T-junction turn right and follow the path to a bridge over the northern part of the Duke of Northumberland's River. Turn right, signposted 'Harmondsworth', along a path that skirts the edge of Saxon Lake. At the far end go through the kissing gate and right along a narrow track, at the end of which is a metal gate leading to the churchyard. Mr Cox, of Cox's apples fame, is buried here. At the other end of this is the Five Bells pub, where your walk began.

Harmondsworth Moor is the largest public park to be created in London for the past 100 years. It also boasts a Green Flag Award (for reaching certain standards set by the civic trusts). Surrounded by the M25 and the M4, and a little over 2 miles (3.2km) as the crow flies from Terminal 3, it's a wonder that such an attractive development could exist. True, you can hear the constant hum of traffic but the ubiquitous aircraft are hardly noticeable.

It's easy to get your bearings as the award-winning British Airways Waterside office complex and the adjacent Swan Lake are usually within sight. Ancient meadows have been recreated using specially harvested seeds, which in turn attract a range of insects, butterflies and birds. In the area beside the Giant's Teeth, the buddleia attract plenty of butterflies in summer.

You'll discover some unique features, including part of Waterloo Bridge, amid these rolling hills and rivers. Wander through the park at will, or try the following route.

Where to eat and drink

The Five Bells pub, with its low-beamed, cosy interior is welcoming. There are a couple of daily specials and an extensive menu includes sandwiches, jacket potatoes, pasta, pies and some Indian dishes such as chicken korma. Originally the village bakery, the pub is thought to be 300 years old. Avoid Friday lunchtimes if you want to be sure of a table because it can get busy with British Airways staff at that time.

While you're there

If you have children with you and are walking during the week, call in at the Community Learning Centre, which offers an interactive wildlife experience for children of all ages. The centre works closely with the local residents. It holds workshops and has learning resources, including a mock interior of an aircraft, in which children can practise language and presentation skills. To find the centre, continue past Swan Lake instead of turning right to the car park.

What to look for

If you follow the path past Half Moon Meadow you will come to a memorial on the left. On 16th September 1948 a Royal Canadian Air Force Halifax bomber crashed here, killing all seven crew. The plaque is set in a block of stone - yes you've guessed it - from Waterloo Bridge, and every year British Airways and the village hold a small memorial service. The meadow is at its best in July and August when it is brightly coloured with poppies and corn marigolds.

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