This 18th-century inn stands in the heart of the picturesque village of Denham, opposite the…
This is a walk of contrasts. After being cocooned along trails through the ancient woodlands that were once part of the Forest of Middlesex, the extent of the wide, flat, open space ahead when you reach the lido is impressive. Be ready for a surprise if you've never seen Ruislip Lido before – it is no longer used for swimming. It's best to do this walk on a Sunday if you plan to visit the tea rooms and the miniature railway.
On track for success
How many men do you know who have bought their children a railway set only to end up playing with it themselves? Moving up the scale, miniature railways are also big boys' toys. They all seem to be driven by men, built by men and largely named after men... but at least this is one toy that can be enjoyed by everyone. The Ruislip Lido Railway began operating in 1945 with a steam locomotive called Prince Edward. At that time the line was about one third of its present length of 1.25 miles (2km). Nowadays the Ruislip Lido Railway Society operates the route, having taken control of it from the council in 1979. Three diesel locomotives, one steam locomotive and 15 coaches are all driven by volunteers, one of whom is actually a high-speed train driver. The railway operates all year and is one of the most successful in the South East. Not surprisingly, January, February and November are the quietest months, but figures increase in December when special 'Santa trains' operate the 25-minute journey, while in August nearly 6,000 return tickets might be sold – not bad going for a big boys' toy. The railway's ticket office is near the beach section of the Lido.
Cliff at the Lido
A number of films have been shot here including The Young Ones (1961) and Summer Holiday (1962). Both starred a youthful Cliff Richard who, at the time had not only the Lido but also the world, it would seem, at his feet. It was the pre-Beatles early sixties and, with his able backing group The Shadows, Cliff couldn't put a foot wrong. A couple of years earlier he had played a small part as a juvenile delinquent in the forgettable film Serious Charge which, nevertheless spawned his chart-topping success Living Doll. But The Young Ones, in which Cliff played the leader of a Paddington youth club, was an enormous box-office hit and the soundtrack to the musical secured Cliff's female fanbase, remaining in the top three best-sellers for six months. The eponymous single also reached number one. Strolling around the Lido today, it's difficult not to hum along to the songs of more innocent times.
Enter Young Wood to the right of the car park. At a crossing of paths turn left and go through the green gate. Cross the road with care and follow the public footpath, which is signposted 'Hillingdon Trail'.
At a post turn left and go uphill, then at the T-junction turn right. After a few paces, go left where the path narrows and descends. Cross a brook and at the next T-junction turn right then immediately left.
On arrival at the gate turn right along a straight track that borders houses and gardens. At the end, where a road joins it on the left, turn right along a path that re-enters the woods. After 200yds (183m) turn left along a path that winds through the trees and ends up at a kissing gate. Take the path to the left of the gate, bear left after another gate, and cross a brook to reach the golf course.
Turn immediately right along a narrow path with the golf course to your left. This path swings to the left and follows the edge of the wood. Cross a footbridge over a brook and bear right along a path that skirts the nature reserve.
The path eventually veers right into Park Wood. Follow this uphill and keep ahead on a reasonably straight path through the woods. You will see the track of the miniature railway line to the right of the wire fence.
Continue along this footpath as it skirts the fence, the miniature railway and, on the other side of this, the Lido itself.
Turn right past a wooden post to the miniature railway's ticket office. Turn left here, along a wide path that hugs the southern end of Ruislip Lido. Continue past the children's play area and follow the path round to the right. Go counter-clockwise around the pub and head towards the car park but then go right through the green gate to pick up the Hillingdon Trail footpath again across meadowland.
At the next footpath signpost turn left across the grass and enter Copse Wood by the wooden gate. Follow the footpath as it swings round to the left . The next waymarker sign you come to is back at a junction passed on the outward route. From here maintain your direction, walking ahead to retrace your footsteps back to the car park at Young Wood and the start of the walk.
Mainly non-waymarked paths through woods
Woodland and large expanse of Lido
Not allowed in children's playground
OS Explorer 172 Chiltern Hills East
Young Wood car park off Ducks Hill Road
At Ruislip Lido beside the pub
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
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