Gunnersbury Tube, Grange Road exit | Map
Guided by David
Okay, today you're going to do what no tourist – or Londoner for that matter – ever does... walk over Kew Bridge and discover "London's last remaining true village" – i.e., Strand on the Green. Except that we're NOT going to do it the "obvious" way. We're NOT going to walk over Kew Bridge. Which is by way of saying, that opening is just to give you an idea as to the whereabouts of Strand on the Green.
No, as you know, we "jump off" from Gunnersbury Tube (it's on the District Line). Our "run in" to Strand on the Green involves (in no particular order – and in any case I wouldn't try to thread my way down there on my own if I were you) crossing a hidden, utterly local footbridge over a little railway line and a nip through a tunnel under a motorway. Those two features, the railway line and the motorway are a principal reason Strand on the Green is so well preserved – i.e., it's cut off, hard to find. And into the bargain – if you pick your streets right – which I've done, needless to say – you'll go past one of the most astonishing sights in London, especially given that you're in – on the ramble from Gunnersbury Tube to Strand on the Green – a fairly "ordinary" west London residential neighbourhood. I'm not going to give the game away, except to say that you better take your camera because what you'll see will knock your socks off. It's achingly blue and bulbous. More I'm not going to say.
And that's just the overture, the approach. As for Strand on the Green itself, it "straggles along the Thames for about 600 yards." River looks completely different up there. It looks like a country river. The "village" has three very fine old riverside pubs. And boy does this beautiful yet curiously remote spot ever "encapsulate" London's history. Human beings first came here about half a million years ago. Nomads, they followed their herds. All they left behind were their all-purpose flint axes. A couple of them have been found here. And from those impossibly remote beginnings... well, Strand on the Green has been a palimpsest. Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Danish, Norman, Mediaeval, Tudor, Georgian, Victorian, 20th-century... all those "ages" have washed across this picturesque and barely known London "village."
The Strand on the Green walk takes place at 10.45 am on Saturday, April 21. The meeting point is just outside the Grange Road exit of Gunnersbury Tube.