Running tales from Ealing – the River Brent

Storm Ciara is blowing a hooley today, and I was in two minds whether to go for a run. In the end I decided to go, but stay close to home just in case. That’s not very logical is it? A tree is just as likely to fall on my head near or far.

Anyway I went out, and I came back, and apart from being literally blown around a bit I was unscathed.

My route took me along a few sections of the river Brent. I was particularly interested to see how the Greenford to Gurnell greenway was getting along. This scheme to regenerate the area between Greenford and the current leisure centre at Gurnell was given a boost in 2018 with £375000 funding from the Mayor of London from the Greener City Fund. The area covers all of Perivale Park, as well as a good stretch of the river. Twenty years ago I lived in a house that backed onto Perivale Park, and used to go there almost every day for a while. It was always a bit bleak – a flat stretch of playing fields with a small children’s playground in the corner. Now it is being transformed into a much more interesting and environmentally diverse space. An orchard has been planted, and several pond ‘scrapes’ dug to develop a wetland ecology. Paths have been created to link spaces within the park, and into the park from local housing areas. The path beside the river along the Ruislip Road has been improved so that it is much more pleasant to walk or run along.

The plans! Quite a bit is already in place.

In a few years when the meadows and trees have become established it is going to be a huge improvement and I can only hope that it is encourages more people to be more active outside. An exciting development is the setting up of a Forest School by the river. I know I have written about the huge physical and mental benefits of being outdoors before, but it is so important for children to have this early connection with the outdoors. Playing outside brings so many positive things to children’s lives. There is lots of research now to show how it improves self esteem and confidence; enhances problem solving skills; improves social and communication skills – to name just a few benefits.

Blackthorn– already in blossom and it’s only February!

Forest School Ethos

Children need more risk; need to be more active; need more independence in own learning; need more play; thinking outside the norm; real life experiences; biophilia. (from the Forest School website).

Children NEED these things! They need them to develop stamina – both mental and physical. They need them to become resilient, sociable and happy. They need them in order to grow up into happy and healthy adults. If you have access to a Forest School nearby then you are lucky!

The river Brent in Ealing goes through different parks, and joins up with the Grand Union Canal in Hanwell. I feel very lucky that I can run 14km from my house, and 90% of that distance is not on a road. Today I ran alongside or across the river in Pitshanger Park, Perivale Park, Bitterns field and Brent Lodge Park (aka the Bunny Park).

The river flowing through Pitshanger Park
The new wetland scrape areas and meadowland – still under construction!
View across the golf course and Perivale park from the new footbridge linking the park to the Ruislip Road.
The river in the Bunny Park with the viaduct through the trees. The viaduct is the main train line out of London westwards.
The river under the arches of the Wharncliffe viaduct in Hanwell.

I intended to write about the river’s history and geography today. However I got carried away with the greenway and the Forest School! Another time I will write about the course, source and destination. And maybe accompany that piece with some prettier pictures when it is warmer and sunnier!

If you are in the UK I hope you are snug and dry, sheltering from the storm. Maybe doing some baking? I intend to make an apricot and almond upside down cake later….

One thought on “Running tales from Ealing – the River Brent

  1. Interested in your Perivale Park and River Brent run descriptions. When I was a young teen the Brent used to rise and completely flood the old road effectively cutting off Greenford from Hanwell.
    A major site improvement and realigned road in the mid 1960s has got rid of that problem on the then 211 and 97 buses route!


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