Northolt and Greenford Countryside Park links 110 hectares (270 acres) of open space in the northwest of the London Borough of Ealing, formed by linking smaller parks, playing fields and countryside sites to provide a varied habitat that includes meadows, scrub, woodlands, wetlands, ponds and small lakes. It is crossed by the A40 Western Avenue running west-east and the Grand Union Canal running north-south. The park’s dominant site is the award-winning Northala Fields, covering 27.5 hectares (68 acres), which features four large artificial hillocks and water features.
Address for SatNav purposes: UB5 6AH
(Map:; OS grid reference TQ127835)
History[edit | edit source]
Ealing Council created the Northolt and Greenford Countryside Park in 1996. Since the park was formed, money has been spent on purchasing land, restoring land, providing new and improving existing facilities and enhancing the maintenance throughout the park. Funding for improvements has been largely sourced from external grants, English Partnerships, London Waterways Partnerships, Heritage Lottery Fund and Section 106.
Northala Fields was formerly playing fields leased to the Royal Borough of Kensington in 1938. The playing fields were bought back by Ealing Council in 1997 and added to the CP in 2008. The four large conical mounds alongside the A40 were constructed from rubble from the demolition of the original Wembley Stadium. (The name "Northala" is how the old manor of Northall (Northolt) was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086.)
Marnham Fields was once a landfill site.
Habitat[edit | edit source]
The NGCP comprises a diverse patchwork of parks, playing fields and countryside sites that form a more or less continuous belt of green open space, much of which is valuable for nature conservation.
The centrepiece of the site is Northala Fields, with its four distinctive grass mounds running along the south of the A40 and a developing mosaic of habitats, including wildlife ponds, six interconnected fishing lakes, streams, meadows and scrub. In the construction of Northala Fields, new areas of habitat were created using native species, of local provenance where possible. The four mounds were given different soil conditions to provide four distinct moundside habitats for wildflowers and grasses. Other habitats created are neutral and marshy grassland, streams and swales, and woodland and scrub. The wetland habitats are designed to provide opportunities for wetland invertebrates, including dragonflies and damselflies, while the diverse wildflower grassland provides resources for various terrestrial invertebrates.
East of Northala Fields, across Kensington Road, is Smiths Farm Open Space, which offers meadow, scrub, young woodland and a shallow pond that floods in the winter that attracts many animal species from Shovelers, Snipe and Aquatic Insects.
Across the Grand Union Canal from Smiths Farm is Marnham Fields, with more large areas of meadow and scrub. Since 2002, work has been going on here to create a new community woodland, with the planting of 2,000 native British trees, including oak, ash, silver birch, rowan, alder and hazel, to increase the diversity of wildlife.
Moving further east, Greenford Lagoons along the south side of the A40, and Greenford Birch Wood, on the road’s north side, provide yet more ponds, wetlands, woodlands, meadows and scrub.
South-west of Northala Fields is the small open space of Medlar Fields, beyond which is Rectory Park, which is the CP’s main centre for sports activities.There is also a nine-hole golf course in this area and a fenced-in pond.
North of the A40 and west of the canal, further green space leads through Belvue Park to Northolt Manor local nature reserve.
Species[edit | edit source]
Apparently Common Snipe can be seen in winter around the shallow pond in Smiths Farm. When flooded a a lot of Shovelers and Teal can be found here
Frog could possibly found in the ponds at Greenford Birch wood and the moated manor. There has not been any information about this place.
Many species of butterfly visit Marnham Fields in the summer, including in recent years, the Clouded Yellow. Insects could be found near ponds in Rectory Park and Birch Wood and Smiths Farm. Birch wood has a possibility of having woodland insects. The Woodland Urban fringes could been harbouring many animals.
Practicalities[edit | edit source]
NGCP is south of the Target Roundabout, where the A312 crosses the A40. Leave the roundabout by the A40 East exit, but then keep to the left-hand lane (labelled “Northolt Industrial Estate”). Turn right at the end, pass under the A40 bridge into Kensington Road. Either turn right up the slip-road back towards the A40 West and look for a car park on the left or continue a short way along Kensington Road and turn into a car park on the right. The car parks open at 7.30am and close at times that reflect the changing time of dusk.
Bus E10 passes through the park on Kensington Road. Buses E6, E7 and E9 pass south of the park on Ruislip Road (B455). Buses 90, 120, 140 and 282 all serve the Target Roundabout (A40/A312) just north of the park .
The nearest London Underground Station is Northolt (Central Line), about 88m north of Northala Fields. Near the north-eastern corner of the park is Greenford Station (National Rail), with trains from London Paddington every half hour (Monday to Saturday only) — journey time 24 minutes.
The country park is accessible 24 hours a day by any of its many entrances. There are good walking and cycle routes throughout the park providing useful connections between sites. The surfaced footpaths are mainly flat, but with some steep slopes in Northala Fields. There is good provision of benches in much of the park.
Northala Fields has a cafe (called San Remo, for some reason) with public toilets. The cafe is open year-round from 10am to 6.30pm on weekdays and from 10am to 7.30pm at weekends. The loos are only open while the cafe is open.
Comments[edit | edit source]
Andrew Haynes writes: I paid a visit to this site on 11 September 2012 because I had four hours to kill in the Northolt area. I was disappointed. It must be the world’s noisiest “country” park because of the constant barrage of sound from the traffic thundering through the middle of the park on the A40 Western Avenue. Wherever you are in the park, the noise is intrusive, and by the time I left I was developing a headache.
I was also disappointed because I found little bird life, and certainly nothing worth adding to the test NewLas page. The habitat certainly included areas that looked as if they should be attractive to migrant passerines, but I saw nothing other than common species -- and not many of them.
A particular disappointment was that, apart from the fishing lakes and the canal, I found no open water. As far as I could tell, all the ponds/lake/lagoons had dried up -- although it was difficult to tell for sure because most are surrounded by wire fences and head-high brambles. I hope Ealing Council will make an effort to improve these water features for the benefit of wildlife and visitors.
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