Fact File

Length: Five miles

Time: Two and a half hours

Car park: In Osterley Park

entrance off Jersey Road Osterley.

Tube: Osterley (Piccadilly Line), half a mile away.

Caution: Wear long trousers - stinging nettles are a problem on a short stretch of the walk.

Next Wednesday the National Trust is offering free entry to 174 of its properties. Among the most appealing in the London area is Osterley Park, where the original Tudor mansion was virtually redesigned by Robert Adam and William Chambers in the mid-18th century.

It stands in the middle of a lovely park and can be used as the starting point for a walk that takes in marvellous landscapes as well as a stretch of the Grand Union Canal. (If you make a day of it, do the walk in the morning - the house is open only from 1 -5pm.)

From the car park take the path by the lake as it curves around the Chinese pavilion, keeping the house on your right. Stay close to the lake (although you can skirt the mound of the old ice house). To your right is part of the Park's large collection of rare trees, including evergreen oaks.

Turn right where the lake ends, keeping to the left of the iron railings. Soon you get a tremendous view of the back of the house, and a few minutes later you come to Chambers's Doric temple. It is locked, but you can see some of the elaborate stucco decoration through the window. Cross the tree-covered lawn to find the semi-circular greenhouse, designed by Adam. Head towards the house, then bear left on to the path that passes the Tudor stable block.

When you get to the gate by the toilets, go through and turn left, with the brick wall on your left. The path runs between hedgerows, and passes a field. Stay on the path until you reach twin lodges and a minor road. Turn left, and you will soon cross a bridge over the M4.

On the other side, where the road bends left, the concrete steps almost straight ahead lead down to a clear path running across a field, where the grain has already been harvested. Following the chain-link fences you will find a road and a narrow path leading to the back of the Plough Inn on Tentelow Lane.

Cross the road and turn right. Just after the bend turn left up Minterne Avenue and first right along Melbury Avenue, which leads to a bridge over the canal. Turn left after the bridge to reach the towpath, then double back under the bridge to walk east alongside the canal.

You pass an abandoned lock keeper's cottage and soon get to a road bridge where an aqueduct carries the canal over a single-track railway - a junction of road, rail and water. Soon afterwards you reach five locks very close together: cross the fifth by the lock gate at the far end.

A path on your left, past a noticeboard, leads to a gate and then to a stretch of the single-track railway. Cross it again and turn left onto a narrow path with a tall chain-link fence enclosing the recreation ground to the right. The path is overgrown but passable - but this is where the nettles are. You will be glad you are wearing long trousers.

The path follows the fence and turns right, leading to Windmill Lane, where you turn left and pass under the M4. Opposite the Hare and Hounds, cross the road and go through a gap in the railings on to a grassy path, bearing right with a brick wall behind trees on your right. Cross a small field, then turn right on to a drive between lodges.

Soon you get a front view of Osterley House across the lake on your left. Where the path turns left go through a kissing gate (a bit hard to spot) in the split-paling fence on your left and walk through the trees. At the fork, keep left and follow the curving bank of the lake to get a closer view of the house.

Go over to the front to visit it, or keep on following the lake to get back to the car park.

The route is based on one in Discovering Country Walks in South London, published by Shire Publications in 1982.

Next Wednesday the National Trust is offering free entry to 174 of its properties. Among the most appealing in the London area is Osterley Park, where the original Tudor mansion was virtually redesigned by Robert Adam and William Chambers in the mid-18th century.

It stands in the middle of a lovely park and can be used as the starting point for a walk that takes in marvellous landscapes as well as a stretch of the Grand Union Canal. (If you make a day of it, do the walk in the morning - the house is open only from 1 -5pm.)

From the car park take the path by the lake as it curves around the Chinese pavilion, keeping the house on your right. Stay close to the lake (although you can skirt the mound of the old ice house). To your right is part of the Park's large collection of rare trees, including evergreen oaks.

Turn right where the lake ends, keeping to the left of the iron railings. Soon you get a tremendous view of the back of the house, and a few minutes later you come to Chambers's Doric temple. It is locked, but you can see some of the elaborate stucco decoration through the window. Cross the tree-covered lawn to find the semi-circular greenhouse, designed by Adam. Head towards the house, then bear left on to the path that passes the Tudor stable block.

When you get to the gate by the toilets, go through and turn left, with the brick wall on your left. The path runs between hedgerows, and passes a field. Stay on the path until you reach twin lodges and a minor road. Turn left, and you will soon cross a bridge over the M4.

On the other side, where the road bends left, the concrete steps almost straight ahead lead down to a clear path running across a field, where the grain has already been harvested. Following the chain-link fences you will find a road and a narrow path leading to the back of the Plough Inn on Tentelow Lane.

Cross the road and turn right. Just after the bend turn left up Minterne Avenue and first right along Melbury Avenue, which leads to a bridge over the canal. Turn left after the bridge to reach the towpath, then double back under the bridge to walk east alongside the canal.

You pass an abandoned lock keeper's cottage and soon get to a road bridge where an aqueduct carries the canal over a single-track railway - a junction of road, rail and water. Soon afterwards you reach five locks very close together: cross the fifth by the lock gate at the far end.

A path on your left, past a noticeboard, leads to a gate and then to a stretch of the single-track railway. Cross it again and turn left onto a narrow path with a tall chain-link fence enclosing the recreation ground to the right. The path is overgrown but passable - but this is where the nettles are. You will be glad you are wearing long trousers.

The path follows the fence and turns right, leading to Windmill Lane, where you turn left and pass under the M4. Opposite the Hare and Hounds, cross the road and go through a gap in the railings on to a grassy path, bearing right with a brick wall behind trees on your right. Cross a small field, then turn right on to a drive between lodges.

Soon you get a front view of Osterley House across the lake on your left. Where the path turns left go through a kissing gate (a bit hard to spot) in the split-paling fence on your left and walk through the trees. At the fork, keep left and follow the curving bank of the lake to get a closer view of the house.

Go over to the front to visit it, or keep on following the lake to get back to the car park.

The route is based on one in Discovering Country Walks in South London, published by Shire Publications in 1982.

(Photograph omitted)

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