Conservation sites

Horsenden Hill

Made up of three main areas, this is the largest single nature conservation site within the borough at 100 ha.  Located in Perivale this site comprises of meadows, wetland and woodland habitat so there is plently to see.

Where is it?

Nearest tube: Perivale (Central line) Sudbury Town (Piccadilly Line)
Bus: 92, 94, 384 and 487
By car: Leave the A40 at the Perivale exit and there is a car park off Horsenden Lane North. 

About the park

A beautiful area of ancient woodland, grassland, ponds and hedgerows, that provides an opportunity to experience nature and escape from city life.

The site is broken up into three distinctive sections:

  • Horsenden East, bordered by Horsenden Lane North, contains large areas of woodland, with smaller patches of grassland which are managed by grazing the fields with cattle. There are amazing views from the summit, which at 84m above sea level, is the highest point in Ealing.
  • Horsenden West, on the opposite side of the lane and bordered by the Grand Union Canal, contains a mosaic of wildflower meadows, hedgerows and ponds.
  • On the southern side of the canal lies Paradise Fields comprising scrapes, reed beds and lagoons offering a peaceful haven for wildlife and visitors alike.

A brief history

Archaeological evidence has shown that people occupied the site for at least 7000 years. The ancient plough soil on the hill top suggests Neolithic farming, and considerable numbers of Iron Age pot shreds were discovered in 1987. The site was scheduled as an ancient monument in 1976.

The patterns of fields, hedgerows and small woods which can be seen today at Horsenden Hill is a man-molded landscape which has escaped the influences of recent times. Most field names are derived from a 1773 map by John Binfield, who recorded all the parishes of Middlesex. 

During the last century and well into this one there was a small settlement, Brabsden Green, on the western slope of the hill besides Horsenden Lane. It consisted of a few cottages, a village shop and a public house, the Ballet Box Public House, so called because of its use as a polling station for canal boatmen.  The pub was re-sited after the Second World War and the rest of the houses of Brabsden Green was demolished in 1970s.

During the Second World War much of the western fields were used for growing wheat and vegetables and remained in cultivation until about 1950.

Grazing project

In recent years the ranger service have organised a grazing project to manage the meadows on the east side of Horsenden Hill.

The grazing takes place each year from August to November using five or six cattle which are rare or traditional breeds for example Highlanders, Gloucester’s, Herefords, British Whites or English Longhorns.  The cattle act as ‘natural lawnmowers’ eating the long grass, scrub and wildflowers at the end of the summer which would otherwise be difficult to cut with machinery, owing to the steep slopes and abundance of meadow ant hills.

The Grazing Advice Partnership  provides more information on grazing.