West Drayton to Wraysbury; 5 October 2014

Colnbrook, Berks

Yesterday we went for a walk. Following persistent rain for much of Saturday, the weather on Sunday was dry, sunny, and pleasantly milder than forecast, with only very light winds. We took the Tube from Manor House to Paddington, via King’s Cross. Chelsea was playing Arsenal that afternoon, and we spotted a number of ‘Blues’ fans heading for Stamford Bridge.

At Paddington, we took a train to West Drayton, intending to walk west, then south, to Magna Carta Island, on the Thames, near Runnymede. But time (and light) ran out and we only got as far as Wraysbury.

Exiting from West Drayton station, we quickly found the Grand Union Canal and walked north-west along the towpath, stopping after about five minutes to sit on a bench and eat our sandwiches in the sun. Sadly, the avocado and herb wraps we bought at Pret a Manger at Paddington were not up to their usual standard.

After our lunch, we continued along the towpath but had to dodge numerous cyclists – quite an inconvenience given the narrowness of the path.

Crossing a footbridge near Packet Boat Marina, we turned sharply west and followed the Slough Arm of the canal. Then, not far from the M25, we were unable to pick up a path marked on the OS map as running off to the south by a junkyard or rubbish dump. There were signposts still in place indicating where the path had been, but it appeared to have fallen into disuse or been closed. We concluded this was because a nearby footbridge, also shown on the map, had been removed.

Forced to backtrack, we turned south on an evidently new stretch of path (not shown on the OS map) called the Colne Valley Walk. At some point this joined up with the disused path and we were able to resume our intended route, across the railway line and through Thorney Farm (now a golf course).

Following the Colne Brook, we passed underneath the M25 and headed north then west to Old Slade Farm, then south across a bridge over the M4. Continuing south, we reached Colnbrook, where we saw a pub – the Ostrich Inn – advertising itself as the third oldest in England.

Beyond Colnbrook, the path south to Horton passed underneath or near several of the flightpaths out of Heathrow, and loud aircraft noise became particularly noticeable in and south of Horton.

There are lots of small lakes, ponds, and streams in this vicinity, in addition to a number of huge artificial reservoirs, and the path from Horton to Wraysbury passed through woods between several of these lakes. It was quite pleasant in the fading light, albeit spoiled by jets thundering overhead about once a minute.

By the time we reached Douglas Lane, Wraysbury, it was obvious that, with little daylight left, we’d not be able to make it to Magna Carta Island before dark.

Instead we headed for Wraysbury station, but just missed a train and had to wait an hour for the next one. When it arrived, the guard announced that ‘an intoxicated gentleman’ was ‘threatening suicidal behaviour’ at Ashford station, and that we would be delayed until the situation was resolved. After about twenty minutes, a further announcement came that the man had been ‘apprehended’, and we were able to continue, arriving at Waterloo about seventeen minutes later than scheduled.

Tired, and rather hungry, we picked up a 68 bus to Euston, where we took full advantage of the all-you-can-eat £6.95 buffet at Chutney’s on Drummond Street.

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