How to live outside London, inside London — Perivale

Living on Walthamstow‘s High Street last year, I thought it highly unlikely that in a month’s time we’d find ourselves in a nice flat, close to a tube station and in a quiet, leafy residential area. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I think our front door would be just a minute’s walk from an area of great natural beauty and space.

Panorama from the top of Horsenden Hill

Panorama from the top of Horsenden Hill

Somewhere that had a gently rippling canal, populated by ducks and barges; expansive green playing fields stretched up to the horizon; a wetland nature reserve abuzz with wildlife; an atmospheric forest, silent save for the occasional echoing bird call; and a hill culminating in a panoramic view, which goes for miles and miles. Well, we discovered today that what we thought impossible is now our home. This is Perivale.


Well-kept secret
Perivale? No-one, not even Londoners, is familiar with the name, despite it being a tube stop in Zone 4 of the Central Line‘s western end. We weren’t either, until a flat located there was advertised on Gumtree. By the time this listing appeared (we spotted it at midnight, literally the minute it was posted), we were so desperate that I think we would’ve taken anywhere as we had just a week left until we’d be thrown out of our Walthamstow flat. So I think it was by some miracle that the flat we ended up with just happened to be perfect.


Along the canal
We knew there was greenery around our new home, but didn’t know quite how much there was until we ventured out to explore. A few paces from our front door, past the library and playground, we crossed a field and, through a gap in the trees, (part of Perivale Wood — a bluebell wood when in bloom) found a canal overhung by tree branches. This is Grand Union Canal, the UK’s longest, which stretches right up to Birmingham. Walking along here we saw several ducks, coots, swans and canal boats, some of which held waving owners.


Rugged beauty
Across a large wooden bridge that arches over the canal, we passed from the canal path to an open area comprising swathes of grass, trees and bushes; a wetland to the left, holding several lagoons, marshes and more water birds; and large expanses of green playing fields to the right, circled by thicket and muddy pathways leading off into further, wilder fields.


Warm welcome
Although mostly alone, we met several runners, cyclists and dog walkers on our ramble, as well as a few other explorers stopping to examine the maps as we were. There are three distinct colour-coded walks shown on these maps and we combined them all in order to see everything, yet it still wasn’t far to walk. Eventually we reached the top of Horsenden Lane North and stopped for cups of tea at The Ballot Box pub, currently owned by the Fayre & Square franchise. It was very sunny and cosy in here, with big comfy seat booths and a warm atmosphere.


Atmospheric ascent
Finally, we walked behind the pub into the shady silence of Horsenden Wood, thick with ancient speckled trunks and criss-crossing, leaf-stripped branches. Steadily ascending through the soft carpet of dead leaves and twigs, we eventually emerged onto the summit of Horsenden Hill, a wide grassy plateau providing a panorama across six counties — largely made up of rows of little red-roofed houses.


By now the sun was setting, although the sky wasn’t clear enough to see anything except the changing colours of the sky — from blue, to yellow, to orange, to violet. It was just a short walk back through the darkening forest and down the other side of the hill, until we reached Horsenden Lane again and the quaint entrance to Perivale.


Until next time
If you needed more proof of what a lovely area this is, I just found that the AA have more-or-less the same route we took as a listed walk on their website. The area even featured on Doctor Who in 1989. This walk was beautiful even in the barest and greyest of all seasons — so I can’t wait to see how glorious it is in spring, summer and autumn.


All text and photos (c) Juliet Langton, 2012. All rights reserved.


9 thoughts on “How to live outside London, inside London — Perivale

  1. Wow! You certainly struck gold when you found your flat! It all sounds idyllic and I bet you can’t wait to go for lots more walks as the seasons change. I hadn’t heard of Perivale before, and no-one I tell about it has either. It sounds like a nice place name though, the sort of name that might be ‘made up’ in a fiction book as the loveliest place.
    The photos are lovely – I was even inspired to look on Google Maps to explore more about the area! x


  2. I am going to be moving to Perivale and came across this post through a quick google search. Feel alot better after seeing these pictures and that its got some lovely greenery! Thanks!


  3. I’ve just stumbled across this post because I’m thinking of buying in the area but know next to nothing of this part of London. I can see it’s five years old but just on the off-chance you still know the area…

    I’m currently in Hackney, and one of the things I love most about it (apart from the vegan markets and general hippie-ness, which I can drop back in to enjoy) is all the Turkish greengrocers where I can get my daily shopping — including beautiful fruit and veg — without ever having to step into a Tesco. Does Perivale have much in the way of local independent shops? Or anywhere nearby — Alperton, Wembley, Greenford?

    Thank you…


    1. Hi Bronwen, thanks for visiting! I moved away from Perivale a couple of years ago now, but when I lived there there was a small row of local independent shops (a grocers, a newsagent, a takeaway or two) on the way to Wembley and a few further businesses closer to the A40. I don’t recall any pubs or restaurants. Definitely far fewer options than you’ll be used to in Hackney, as Perivale is mostly just a residential area. The shops that are available were not very convenient for us, so we always went to the large Tesco for shopping, and either to Ealing or into the centre to go out. So I would definitely recommend visiting the area to have a walk around and see what to expect. If you don’t mind finding your entertainment elsewhere, Perivale makes a nice, quiet place to live that’s close to nature.


    2. Hi
      I’m local to Perivale and you have plenty of international, independent food shops on Bilton Road or down in Alperton or Greenford. There is also a huge, convenient Tesco and Pitshanger Lane, with trendy/posh delis, is very close by.


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