Northolt Greenford Countryside Park
Where is it?
The Northolt and Greenford Countryside Park (NGCP) links 110 hectares of open space in the northwest of the borough. It is crossed by the A40 running from west to east into central London and by the Grand Union Canal running from north to south. There are good walking and cycle routes throughout the park providing useful connections between sites.
There are many entrances into the park and good public transport links around the park.
Bus: E6, E7, E9, E10, 90, 120, 140 and 282 serve different areas of the park
Tube: Northolt or Greenford (Central Line)
About the parks
The NGCP is a unique recreation, leisure, sport and ecological park within the borough of Ealing. It comprises a diverse patchwork of smaller parks, playing fields and countryside sites to form a more or less continuous belt of green open space, much of which is extremely valuable for nature conservation.
To the south and north of the A40 respectively, Greenford Lagoons and Greenford Birch Wood provide a great refuge for a wide range of wildlife species that inhabit the ponds, wetlands, woodlands, meadows and scrub.
To the south east of the park, Marnham Fields and Smiths Farm Open Space offer further large areas of meadow and scrub. They lie on either side of the Grand Union Canal and are linked by a traditional-style wooden canal footbridge constructed out of green oak and decorated with a distinctive Green Man carving. Once again, the area provides excellent wildlife habitats. Look out for snipe making a dramatic take-off from the shallow pond in Smiths Farm and keep an eye out for the many different species of butterfly which visit Marnham Fields in the summer, including in recent years, the clouded yellow.
Since 2002, a group of local volunteers called the Marnham Woodland Group have been working with rangers, contractors, schools and beaver scouts to create and maintain a new community woodland within Marnham Fields. Some 2000 trees of various native species including oak, ash, silver birch, rowan, alder and hazel have been planted to increase the diversity of wildlife and attract new birds and insects to this area which was once a landfill site. A bark chip footpath has been laid winding through the young woodland and on one corner, Marnham Fields own version of Stonehenge has been erected, again all by the efforts of local people keen to improve their local environment.
Rectory Park provides the centre of active sports in the park providing football, cricket and a series of linked childrens playgrounds catering for different age groups, including a skate park and basketball courts.
Heading north from Rectory Park, pass through Medlar Fields to reach Northala Fields, an exciting new park with its four distinctive grass mounds running along the south of the A40. Northala Fields has a newly developing mosaic of different wildlife habitats, including wildlife ponds and fishing lakes, streams, wildflower meadows and scrub woodland. It also has great play facilities for the younger visitor.
Lastly, in the very north of the park, in the Northolt Village Conservation Area, are found some of the most interesting and important heritage sites in Ealing. Northolt Village retains the character of the rural Middlesex village that it was until London grew up around it in the 1930s. Traces of the mediaeval village can still be seen within the NGCP at the Scheduled Ancient Monument site of the moated Northolt Manor and the adjacent St Marys Church. Willow Cottages and Northolt Village Greens also add a sense of history to the area.
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.
The Northolt and Greenford Countryside Park Society was formed in 1995 to ensure the park continues to be retained as an area of natural beauty, which is safe, enhances the environment and improves local amenities. The active participation of local people and businesses working with Ealing Council is the key to the parks success.