Northala Fields - Park of the Month for July
This month we feature Northala Fields as our Park of the Month. Northala was developed as a completely new park and is one of the most exciting and significant park developments in London for many years. Northala Fields was first opened to the public in March 2008, after eight years in development and four years of construction, and went on to win its first Green Flag in 2009. The name Northala is how the old manor of Northall (Northolt) was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086.
A great day out
The park is an exciting place to visit for both adults and children, in addition to climbing the four large hills, you can check out the six fishing lakes, the model boat lake and the two excellent playgrounds for under-14s. Explore the wooded areas and the wildflower meadows not to mention checking the streams and swales for wildlife. The Visitor Centre also has a cafe (http://northalafieldscafe.co.uk), public toilets and the fishing office run by Get Hooked on Fishing, a national fishing charity (http://ghof.org.uk) working in partnership with the council managing the fishing activities. Take a picnic - spend the day!
About the Park
Originally used as playing fields by the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, it was purchased by Ealing Council in 1997 for development into a new park. It is part of the larger Northolt Greenford Countryside Park, which forms a continuous belt of over 100 hectares of green space in the northwest of the borough of Ealing.
Northala Fields personifies the economic and environmental viability of turning waste from the original Wembley Stadium and the new White City shopping centre into a new park, and turning waste materials into new habitats for wildlife and a range of recreational facilities. The innovative concept used the spoil from some huge civil engineering projects in west London, including the redevelopment of Wembley stadium and a giant shopping centre at White City. So there was a need to get rid of large amounts of what is known in the trade as spoil or "muck away".
The ‘win win’ situation meant that the developers of the new site were charged between £70 and £90 per lorryload, and only had to haul it ten miles rather than 100 miles to a landfill site which reduced the overall carbon footprint of sites the Wembley and White City sites.
Work officially started in August 2004. In total, around 60,000 lorryloads of spoil and concrete, around 500,000M3, were dumped on the site. This was used to create the four conical hills, while the concrete was crushed and used in gabions - walls surrounded by steel cages, which provide a spiral path up the tallest hill. Over one mile of gabion baskets were built on the hills. The hardwood timber on the gabion seats and bin tops is also recycled material. Path edgings and the fishing piers are made of recycled plastic.
The four unusual conical hills on the boundary of Northala Fields with the A40 were built to reduce noise and visual pollution for park users and local residents. In fact local residents were actively involved in the design of the site and the Northolt and Greenford Countryside Park Society members were key players in creating the popular park we have today.
The tallest hill measures 26m (84ft) high. On a clear day the 360-degree panorama means you can see the new Wembley Stadium arch, the Post Office Tower, and the towers of Canary Wharf on the horizon!
Not just hills!
This much loved Park is not just about hills! There are lakes, wildflower meadows, streams and swales alongside woodland and scrub. The new areas of habitat were created using native species where possible. The approach to the design of Northala Fields has been a careful balance of providing a significant contribution to biodiversity in the area.
Each hill was created with varying soil conditions that supports wildflower and grass seed mix to give four distinct habitats. The wetland habitats provide opportunities for wetland invertebrates including dragonflies and damselflies, while the diverse wildflower grassland provides resources for a number of terrestrial species of invertebrate. Additionally there is disabled access/facilities - paths are a mixture of tarmac and crushed brick/gravel path surfaces (with some steep slopes), there is a gently sloping spiral path to the panoramic viewpoint at the top of mound three, and there are benches throughout the park
Free Nature Trail
We have created a free Nature Trail for kids of all ages. Download and print or use on your mobile. click here to go to our Trails Page.
Northala Fields - a great place for a visit or a day out indeed!
How to find Northala Park
Address: Kensington Rd, Northolt, UB5
The site lies to the east of the Target roundabout and directly south of the A40 Western Avenue, a main road artery through west London into central London.
Several entrances around the park from residential areas and linking with the subway under the Target Roundabout.
Bus: E10 stops on Kensington Rd, routes 90, 120, 140 and 282 to the Target Roundabout
Tube: Northolt (Central Line) on Mandeville Rd, approximately 800m walk
Parking: Two car parks on Kensington Rd and the A40 slip road to Target Roundabout approaching from the east. There are a number of bicycle locking stands located throughout the park.