Longford River walk
The 111 bus will go as far as Park Road at Hanworth Park where you can comfortably walk back to Kingston in four hours along the Longford river, which is owned and managed by the Royal Park's Authority. The River was created to divert water 12 miles from the river Colne to Bushy Park and Hampton Court Palace, where it reaches the Thames near Teddington Lock. It supplies all the water features in Bushy Park including the Water gardens.
Although the river is mostly culverted in Hanworth park it is possible to obtain views at the north west and north east extremities -as well as around Hanworth Park House- where we spotted a high flying buzzard. Hanworth Park House dates back to 1802, wings and a clock tower were added in the early Victorian period. This mansion replaced a Tudor building, burnt down several years earlier, that had been used a hunting lodge by Henry VIII to access Hounslow Heath.
The House became a military Hospital during the First World War. It was bought by the Whitehead Aircraft Company during WWI, factories were built along the north side of the park for the production of the Sopwith Pup fighter plane with the park used as an airfield. It became an old people’s home run by the London Borough of Hounslow; a Grade 2 Listed Building now on the Buildings at Risk Register. The Friends of Hanworth Park House are working to restore the house.
From the park cross the A314 road lies a peaceful 400m stretch with natural banks with several plants such as branched bur reed water starwort and fool's water cress. A pair of swans swam against the current past the Hanworth Trading Estate. After crossing the A316, the banks are campshed. This is probably the case until it reaches Bushy Park- not always apparent - as it is invariably alongside residential property on at least one side. It is possible to find occasional informal routes down to at least one side of the river. Egyptian geese were seen on a raft near Stourton road.
Here the river is close to Sainsburies superstore but it still has its charm and we didn't see anyone else walking along the banks. All the usual birds were singing.
There was no access to the area either side of this interesting period building TQ134717 (pumping station?). We had to exit via Longford Close and walk along Uxbridge Road. The river apparent from the trees that could be seen at the rear of large properties.
Opposite the Windmill Pub is easily the most beautiful setting; lots of water birds including a heron and mandarin ducks enjoying the peace. Crossing the A312 and walking along Windmill Road is probably the last comfortable riparian stretch to walk, as we lost the river at the recreation ground and railway line, with only glimpses over private gardens with their bank side hot tubs thereafter.
The Longford enters Bushy Park where there is an opportunity to look at the amazing 17th century Brew House. The interior comprises a single space open to the rafters with three brick vaults, about 3m high against the eastern end, which once held the copper cauldrons for brewing.