A walk through wild West London.


The sharp blue light of a sunny weekend encouraged me to continue my occasional wanderings in West London. The latest walk began at my new studio, near Acton Central Station. As you head north-east, Victorian London gives way to early 20th century suburbs and the beginnings of Betjeman's Metroland.

There isn't much to East Acton's centre - a short stretch just off the A40 lined with betting shops and chicken shacks. The housing here is attractively-grouped cottage-style social housing, some I believe built post-Great War as Homes for Heroes, where the English and Union flags still fly proudly.

I continued north, just clipping the edge Wormwood Scrubs before crossing Old Oak Common's vast delta of railway sidings and maintenance sheds. Crossrail is coming here and the entire area is earmarked for vast urban renewal, but I like its character as it is, remote and alien from the cosy terraces just a few moments away.

After crossing the tracks, you can pick up the Grand Union Canal and start heading westwards, skirting the northern perimeter of the vast Park Royal industrial area. While there is plenty of industrial dereliction, what a camera doesn't record are the amazing noises of recycling yards, the hum of electricity substations and the smells of factories preparing ready meal curries and casseroles.

As you cross the North Circular and head towards Alperton, the canalside walk becomes less interesting, with many of the old industrial buildings replaced by smart new warehouse units. Finally, as you reach Perivale, there's the chance to climb one of West London's highest peaks - Horsendon Hill - and enjoy views in all directions, before descending and picking up the Central Line away from Metroland and back towards the city.

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