London Running Routes:
Best London Running Routes: Overview
Docklands-LimehouseRegent's Canal and Camden Town
3-Parks Route: Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James' Park
Heathrow Harmondsworth Moor
Wimbledon Common Trail Run
Royal Docks/ExCeL Route
Kew / Brentford Thames Run
For more running routes, see Route List.
If your company hates you so much that they book you into airport hotels, you should probably just sit down and cry right there, wherever you are at this moment. A whole world full of great towns and countryside is just waiting to be explored -- and there you are, squeezed between freeways, jets thundering overhead, and diesel fumes lingering in the parking lots of those bunker-like structures euphemistically called hotels.
NOTE: see the Destinations Tips page for tips about spending your free time in this great town!
My new employer was obviously trying to tell me something that I don't want to hear when they sent me off to stay at the Sheraton Heathrow on my very first week of work this past week. London -- the most fun-, interesting-, greatest city around -- was just a stone's throw away, but I was stuck out at the airport.
Making the best of this disaster, I went running in the green area just behind the hotel, north of Heathrow, and to my complete surprise, I found (relative) paradise. Harmondsworth village is just separated from the hotel by one field. And there is rolling parkland stretching west of the village, called Harmondsworth Moor, full of public footpaths, streams, hills, lakes and swampy ecosystems.
|Harmondsworth Moor pond|
|The Wraysbury River flows through the park|
If you're staying at the Sheraton Heathrow (don't mix this up with the GOOD Sheraton, the Skyline, down at the other end of Bath Road -- route A4), just follow this route to running heaven. Other hotels such as the Thistle, Heathrow Lodge, Arora and Holiday Inn Bath Road are also close to this route:
Heathrow Harmondsworth Moor Route
Walk out to the street in front of the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, and just turn right, and run westwards to the end of the hotel property (the parking lot). Right there between the parking lot and the next building, there's a little paved footpath heading north to your right. Head up the footpath. The building on the left seems to be a prison (although it's hard to distinguish from the other airport hotels). Just run up the path, but watch out for the squashed rat! An open farm-field will soon open up on your right, behind the hotel.
After the field, the path goes through a green gate and then splits the village recreation fields. Turn left at the gate and run diagonally across the green lawn towards the northwest corner of the park, keeping the houses to your right. You'll see another green gate between the last rows of houses. Follow the street until it runs into a little road after just one block, Moor Lane.
Now, turn left on this road and you'll run straight into the moor, about a kilometer ahead. Ignore the 2 different barriers in the street, including the blocked bridge, just keep going straight on the footpath. You'll pass some foot trails that cut off to the left and right at various times, going to several parts of the moor, but we'll ignore them. You'll hear the M25 motorway straight ahead getting louder. The road ends at a wooden fence where a wooden waymarker points to Joan's Bridge to the south (left) or West Drayson village just 1.5 miles to the north (right).
|Waymarker to Joan's Bridge|
|Along the ridge|
When heading out Moor Lane back to the village, instead of turning right on the first street, back to the recreation field again, keep going straight into the village to take a look. In just a few blocks you'll see the Five Bells pub on the left. Turn left there and you'll find the old church right behind it, and its ancient churchyard (Mr. Cox, who bred the tasty Cox apples is buried here, I'm told). The church is very English: built of split flintstones, with their glassy surfaces reflecting the light, and a solid oak portal at the front door. The churchyard is full of impressive deep-green yew trees.
|The Harmondsworth village green, churchyard in background|
|In the Harmondsworth Hall guest parlor: is this an airport hotel?|
|Saxon Lake at sunset|