Monday 24 March 2014

Top 5 West London dog walks: Northala Fields

Now for something a bit different: Northala Fields. Maybe you've seen it from the A40. It's on your left driving out of London: that park with those strange, conical hills with tiny, ant-like people, working their way to the top.

Do you remember how they appeared out of nowhere back in 2008? One day there was nothing, just some nondescript derelict land with building rubbish, and the next day there was this weird landscape ... .

Top 5 West London dog walks: Northala Fields

To my way of thinking this is a funky park. Funky? Well it's hard to say, but there's nothing quite like Northala Park in the rest of London. It was built out of the rubble from the old Wembley Stadium and the stuff that they dug up when they were building Westfield. Ealing Council hit upon the brilliant plan of offering the then-derelict site to the developers as a place to dump all their building spoil, charging them £70 to £90 per lorry-load for the privilege. 60,000 lorry-loads later they had the raw materials with which to construct the four conical hills, that now sit in a slight curve along the side of the A40. And I, for one, think that this was a brilliant way to recycle rubbish that would otherwise have been destined for a landfill site 100 miles away. It just goes to prove that one man's junk is another man's treasure!

Top 5 West London Walks: Northala Fields
Northala Fields fishing pond

The resulting landscape is ... well, the word just has to be funky. It's pleasing to the eye, although it's like nothing Mother Nature would ever have created. It's modern, metropolitan and kind of re-invents the concept of a city park. Everything you'd expect to find is there, but just not in the conventional form in which you'd expect to see it. Children and adults alike delight in the challenge of climbing the hills for the super views of the city in the distance, and the traffic on the A40 just below. And, believe me, from the top of the tallest hill the vehicles on the A40 look more like toy cars.

There's something humorous about the landscape design; I can't help but smile when I look at those strange little hills. What do they look like? Burial mounds from Salisbury Plain or something extra-terrestrial? I don't know. Who cares? They're fun!

Top 5 West London dog walks: Northala Fields, Northolt
The city of London from Northala Park
The Sunday before last we went there to walk off a few calories after lunch. It was a glorious spring day and the place was heaving with people. I've never seen it so busy. There seemed to be folk there from everywhere, talking loads of different languages, each observing their own dress and cultural customs and all muddling along very happily together: London at its multi-cultural best.

The park has a couple of inventive play areas for the little people. They've built a miniature conical hill to support a rather splendid slide, which you can just see to the right in the photo below. And there are more miniature hills made out of that safe-surface recycled rubber in the playground beside the Kensington Road gate. The play areas have been cleverly designed with verve and humour. I especially liked the climbing frame in the shape of a ship sitting beside the ponds. If there hadn't been so many people around I'd have had a bounce on it myself.

Top 5 West London dog walks: Northala Fields
The sailing ship climbing frame with the slide to the right

And then there are the fish ponds, which I was told are 8 to 10 feet deep and well stocked with coarse fish.

Top 5 West London dog walks: Northala Fields
The fish ponds

Top 5 West London dog walks: Northala Fields
Fishing at Northala Fields
The venue is open to the public for fishing; all you have to do is buy a day-ticket, bring your tackle and off you go. I found a link for the fishing details, which you can check out if you're interested: Northala fishing

The park sits beside one of the busiest roads into London from the North West, but there's not much traffic noise once you're inside. The hills were designed to shield the park and its users from the noise and pollution of the A40, and they certainly seemed to be doing that when we visited.

If you fancy a coffee or an ice-cream there's the San Remo cafe just beside the fishing ponds. The little terrace outside makes a good spot for an al fresco cappuccino.

Top 5 West London dog walks: Northala Fields

If you'd like to check out Northala Fields the address is: Northala Fields, Kensington Road, Ealing, UB5 6UR. The nearest underground station is Northholt (on the Central Line).

If you're coming by car from London you need to exit the A40 at the Target Roundabout and go right round the roundabout to take the exit to go back to central London. As you go down the slip-way to rejoin the A40 there's a little road that goes down to your left. Take this, go right at the T-junction at the end, which takes you through an underpass below the A40 and then take the next right which will get you into one of the designated Northala Fields car parks - or there's another one straight ahead. Bizarrely there are no signs to direct you to Northala Fields from the A40. But I've drawn a diagram - drum roll - with the very latest, and most sophisticated, mapping software (not!). Just follow my turquoise arrows if you're coming from London, and you'll get there no problem.

The Northolt underground station is further up Church Road (the pretty pink one). It runs straight into Mandeville Road, which is where the station is.


Bonny x


  1. What beautiful places! I want to visit England someday; preferably some of the small towns (I like visiting not-so-popular places and avoiding the huge crowded tourism hotspots).

  2. Thank you, Robin. I totally agree. I hate being in a crowd too. It might be good to come off-season (i.e. not in the summer months of July and August) when there aren't so many people around. It would also have the bonus of being less expensive. May, June and September would be good months as the weather's not too bad and all the venues would still be open. A lot of National Trust stuff closes over the winter. I hope you have a great time when you do come. Bonny