WiSy has been doing walks outside Surrey before (some of us still fondly remember Gavin's steam-powered trip from Tunbridge Wells), but as far as I know we've never been outside Europe. So this walk is something of a first for us, as it goes all the way to India and back in just one day. There's only about 8 miles of actual walking, before you ask.
The walk not only explores the subcontinent, but is also an educational one as you will be able to admire two of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's finest works - so it's a full day of leisure and education!
The walk starts on the Grand Union Canal in West London, and we almost immediately come upon one of IKB's most unusual works: the Three Bridges. The bridges are not side by side, but on top of each other: the railway line bridge is under the canal bridge, which is under a road bridge.
Just after the bridges, the walk takes a sinister turn as it passes by the Hanwell Insane Asylum (1831), with very tall walls to keep the lunatics inside, then we pass by the modern equivalent, the secure unit of the Ealing Hospital with equally tall fences (too late, as the lunatics are now running the asylum).
But we soon leave all this madness behind to join the idyllic course of the River Brent, and we soon pass under one of IKB's most celebrated works, the majestic Hanwell or Wharncliffe Viaduct (1837), then we rather improbably pass through two golf courses before being teleported to India.
(We've all seen Start Trek so I don't need to explain how teleportation works) - Once in India we'll visit a couple of bazaars, and as I want to stock up on foodstuffs you'll have the opportunity to visit a couple of local supermarkets to fill up your backpacks with spices, sauces and whatever else fills your fancy. Other goods you may want to bring back could be a brightly coloured and sequined sari, a gold plated tea set, gold jewelry, or perhaps a porcelain god.
By this time it will be lunch time, and there are a number of restaurants we can choose from. I don't want to limit the attendance to the walk, just because we can't all fit into one restaurant, so if we are a big group we may have to split into two or even three restaurants. Going to the restaurant is not compulsory, you could try some of the street food stalls or bring a pack lunch and try to find a spot to eat it.
The restaurants are not expensive, with mains typically about £8 or less, so I would estimate the bill per person to be less than £15.
(The restaurant rules for WiSy are, as ever, that you pay for what you had, so please make a note of the cost of what you order)
After passing through India, we'll resume our canalside activities to return to the start point.
There will be one optional stop after that, which will be a visit to the Sikh temple, which is one of the largest in the world and features fine stained glass. To visit you will need to take your shoes off and cover your head (scarfes are provided, but you may want to bring your own head covering).
I would estimate the walk would be finished by about 17:00, depending on how long lunch takes.
Costs: £2 usual WiSy fee.
About £15 for the restaurant.
By car: the start point is only about 10 mins from the Surrey border (no passport required for this trip). From Jct 13 of the M25 take the A30 then A4 then A3005, which with good traffic could only take about 20 mins. The start point is near a number of residential streets where you should be able to find a free parking space. Park South of the canal, where there are no parking restrictions.
By train: Southall station is only about 2/3 of a mile from the start point. From the station, just turn left into Merrick Road and follow it until you reach the bridge. Anyway, I will be at Southall station at 10:30am to guide the train goers to the start point.
Contact phone number on the day is:[masked]
The walk may not be suitable for dogs, sorry, as they may not be admitted to the restaurants, food shops, and other venues we may visit.