Cycling The Colne Brook, Wraysbury & Frays Rivers
This route is not pretty, but it is interesting. This is the lower Colne Valley, a land of marshland, rivers and moors sliced and diced by motorways, rail lines and dirty industry. It’s a place that few people discover and why would they? The Chilterns surround it to the north west and Windsor Great Park is not far to the south. What this area lacks in beauty it makes up for in intrigue. It’s a chance to get lost in a place you’ve wizzed by on the way to somewhere else.
I'd made a failed attempt at this trip in January. It's been a winter of cancelled running events and I've added a few extra kilos. I was eager to get back on my bike for another attempt and a short window in a rainy Easter weekend gave me a chance. It was wet, muddy and cold. I loved it.
The best place to start the trip is car park at the Colne Valley Regional Park Visitors Centre. From here, its a 2.5 mile cycle down the Grand Union to the start of the Colne Brook. You can see the split from the River Colne from a bridge on the A4007 at Cowley. About 500m further on, a footpath next to the M25 follows the end of the Alderbourne before it meets the Colne Brook. The cycle route stays as close to the river as possible, passing through Iver, Thorney Park Golf Course, Colnebrook village and the back of Heathrow T5 industrial estates.
Once past Heathrow the route gets more pleasant as it weaves through the Wraysbury reservoirs, emerging at Hythe End. After passing the start of the Staines Reservoirs Aqueduct, the route joins the footbridge on the M25 river crossing. From here you can see the confluence with the Thames opposite the Runnymede Hotel.
After a short ride east along the Thames, cross back over the river and you'll find the point where the River Colne reaches the Thames near the old Town Hall. The junction of the Colne and the Wraysbury can be seen from a bridge off Church Street a couple of hundred meters to the north.
From Staines, the cycle route stays in sight of the Wraysbury river for most of the route except for a diversion around a grotty industrial estate at the back of T5. The start of the river at West Drayton is within a stone's throw of the end of the Fray's River. This end of the Frays is hard to keep close to, so the route diverts through West Drayton and Yiewsley before meeting the river at Little Britain Lake. From here the river can be tracked pretty closely through Uxbridge up to the junction with the Colne at Denham Lock.
Map Image on left:
- Yellow = Cycle Route
- Red = River Colne
- Blue = Wraysbury River
- Green = River Frays
Below: position of northern-most point: Denham Lock. Same as photo at top of this post