The one with the massive mounds! Northala Fields is a visually stunning park in Northolt, Greater London just off the A40, it’s an award winning piece of land art. As far as Greater London parks go this one is in its infancy. It opened to the public in 2008 and consists of four artificial hills, several fishing lakes and a large field area. The mounds are very much the heart of the park and dominate the skyline, one with a distinctive spiral path you can wend your way up. The £ 5.5 million park is unique in that it cost the tax payer nothing, the material to construct the mounds came from the demolition site of a very famous stadium, it is the final resting place of the Iconic Wembley Towers. The recycling of the 1.5 million cubic metres of rubble helped the ecological footprint of London by eliminating 160,000 lorry journeys of 200 miles to outlying tips. They also act as a noise barrier, defeating the constant rumble of traffic and exhaust from millions of vehicles flowing into and out of London’s central core. Form and function, fantastic!
It’s a 65 mile trip from Portsmouth using the UB5 6AH postcode to navigate to. As I got there in ridiculously good time I had the car park to myself, it’s free, there are in fact two at the park that you can use. The downside to being too early was that the toilets were still locked, I think they open them at 8:30. However, an upside of being too early was the opportunity to have a mooch around the park and see what’s what. It’s got a bit of everything, there’s obviously the mounds which offer an amazing view over London, the lakes, the playgrounds and the beautifully laid out paths to explore. I decided to run up the mound with the path, as you do!
It’s summit is 22 metres high and as you can see it works out as a half a mile round and round, a nice little warm up. As it was a clear and sunny day I could see all the way to the Wembley Arch once I’d got up there. Having killed a bit of time exploring it was starting to get on towards parkrun’o’clock so I made my way to the meeting place outside the cafe where a crowd was gathering. I have to say what a welcoming atmosphere, I was greeted by people as I wandered around taking photos. I spotted another cow cowl being sported by a lady with a dog who was also sporting a Northala Fields Apricot top. Introductions were made and I chatted with Danielle about the park and all things parkrun.
The first timers brief went through the course description nicely and explained the workings to tourists and newcomers alike. I ended up having a chat with those volunteers as they were interested in why I’d made the trip up, as I said, it’s a very welcoming atmosphere at Northala. Moments after the first timers brief the RD called everyone in for the main brief. She welcomed all the tourists, first timers and thanked the volunteers. The milestone runners were called up and made to stand on a bench holding a 100 sign with photos taken of them individually and altogether, there were three centurions today, top effort! Again this sense of warmth and community very evident.
With the brief out the way it was time to gather over at the start and get ready. I bumped into another cow cowl wearing tourist, Josh, from Ally Pally whilst waiting to start and had a brief chat before we were started off! The course is a fast flat affair, mainly on tarmac paths, but a bit of gravel here and there. Road shoes are the order of the day here. There’s a couple of small inclines on this fast one lapper but nothing to write home about. It’s definitely a quick course, I ran my fastest time this year. It takes you around a couple of the mounds before heading straight across the park out and around another park, along a pavement, back in and back up the way you came, round the mounds the opposite way and into the finish. The barcodes scanners are a nice distance from the finish to avoid congestion and scanned me quickly and efficiently. What a lovely course, on a great morning like this morning I can’t think of a better way to start the day.
Once I’d finished I headed to the cafe for that all important Apres-parkrun experience. Northala Fields are lucky enough to have everything you could want on site, including a cafe that sells coffee, ice cream and Cornetto’s! As I entered the cafe I found that Danielle was at the counter getting a Cornetto in for me as we’d been talking about my #parkruncornetto word thing earlier, remember what I said earlier about warm and welcoming? The patio outside the cafe is a little suntrap and it was great to see so many there socialising afterwards. A special thanks to those that treated me to coffee and good conversation, it really topped off a lovely morning in a beautiful park doing what I love doing most.
So a big thank you to all the volunteers, the organisers and everyone I had the pleasure of meeting today. You have a really really nice parkrun there, it’s well worth a visit.
Next week, Upton Court. See you then!