diamond geezer

 Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hounslow: The Vale

35 metres (30th out of 33) [map] [map]

In 1988 Hounslow council decided to give a gravel pit in the southwest corner of the borough a makeover. They moved 2 million cubic metres of soil to create a new landscape of mounds and water, seeded the whole lot with wildflower mix and called it Bedfont Lakes Country Park. In the process they created a new hill called Monolith Hill, an artificial summit 29m high, topped off with a big stone and a metal disc to show some of the visible landmarks. These included Windsor Castle, Wembley's arch, all the usual, because there wasn't much else in the neighbourhood to block any sightlines. And the grand design was to create the highest point in the borough, which for one of London's flatter administrative districts is a inspired topographical idea. It says as much on the council website...
"...much of the soil and landfill was used to form the hills running through the middle of North Side, creating the highest point in the borough at 95 ft above sea level."
All of which would have been well and good were it not for one slight technicality, which is that the borough of Hounslow tops 100 feet along its northern edge. A patch of land around the M4, including the whole of Heston Services, lies very clearly within a 30m contour. The Airlinks Golf Course, the North Hyde estate, even the 24 hour Tesco Extra At Bulls Bridge, all of these are higher above sea level that Bedfont's intended peak. And some very careful study of the Ordnance map reveals a single tiny 35m contour looped around a spot in Heston itself, and this is the true unforced borough summit. So I didn't get to go to the Site of Importance for Nature Conservation in Bedfont, with its 350 types of plant and 155 bird species, because that would have been much too interesting. Instead I went to a road junction on a suburban estate near a motorway. Your loss.

The Vale is a bog standard, nice enough kind of residential street. The houses are big semis with pointed porches and paved-over front gardens. The odd one has a floral gnome out front but most are perfectly normal, which is a shame because I was hoping there'd be something interesting to write about. The high point comes two roads along, at the junction with the tweely-named Meadow Waye, although you'd be hard pushed to notice from the lie of the land. One of the houses on the corner has a single giant hollyhock opposite the front door, another has a skip in, and someone's got a snack van parked on their drive, but that's about it for individuality. [4 photos]

It's a very quiet street because the eastern end was sealed off by a locked gate a decade ago. There's even a sign on North Hyde Lane which reads "Advance Warning - No access into The Vale from 29th June 2004", which can only suggest that Hounslow council's roads department is gobsmackingly forgetful and/or lazy. The road surface is intriguing too, seemingly laid in segments with tarred black lines as divides, with a particularly random pattern at the borough high point to avoid a couple of manhole covers. And every 90 seconds or so the street reverberates with the sound of aircraft noise as yet another plane comes in to land on Heathrow's northern runway, which is less than two miles away. Thankfully the flight path runs a little to the south so it's not deafening, but it is relentless, and were a third runway ever built over Harmondsworth then residents of the The Vale would be in direct line of fire.
by tube: Hounslow West   by bus: 111, 482, H32

» 66 photos of London Borough Tops (three each, so far)
» Previous reports: Outer NE; Inner E; Inner N, Inner NW, N, NW

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream