Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The U10 Route

Uxbridge to Ruislip (Heathfield Rise)
Thursday May 30th 2013

My planned leisurely arrival at Uxbridge Station had unfortunately turned into an undignified dash out of the station to the bus area with only 4 minutes to spare – very key if you have come clear across London for a once an hour service – but I, along with 9 other passengers, boarded the two-doored single decker at the designated departure time. At this time of day all the passengers were elderly – I counted two Zimmers, 2 sets of sticks and 1 confused, plus the usual quota of shopping trolley owners, who all clearly knew the bus timings (as you would) and all knew each other and the driver. In fact I got some funny looks as being the stranger on board. (Jo and Mary were having Bank Holiday breaks in places more glamorous than Uxbridge, though according to a recent Comment on the U7 some-one’s grandmother thought it worthwhile running away to!)

We left Uxbridge by the usual (and possibly only) route left down the High Street and round the roundabout – the green planting has grown well and is beginning to hide the back of the Pavilions Shopping Centre and the Atrium build. This is of course an alternative route to Ruislip which could have been achieved much more easily on the Piccadilly line. 

The route takes the Harefield Road which follows the course of several waterways – some of these appear natural (The River Colne) others more man-made as in  Frays River  or the Grand Union. Like the U9.

This residential area had probably been part of the older settlement of Uxbridge and indeed this route seemed to link several ‘Middlesex Villages’, being clearly designed to pick up commuting folk from their stations to take them home into the greener parts of London. Many of the roads were separated from the houses by generous grassy verges, or those little triangles of green on the corner, all with mature trees and well tended gardens. If last week was wisteria this week is chestnuts and ceanothus .

This part of Uxbridge/Hillingdon seems to be called Swakeleys so I was a bit surprised to find this website as the area looks thoroughly 20th Century and residential.

The other slight mystery was that the bus kept promising me ‘Douay Martyrs School’ (I suspected a Hail and Ride error – see the H2 for further explanation of this) but while this was clearly a Catholic School it was obviously well camouflaged in amongst the greenery as I did not really spot it. Additionally, while my research tells me that Douay is near Rheims in France and the English College there, working in exile so to speak, produced it own version of an English Language Bible for use by Catholics, I am not sure where the martyrs fit in.  Anyway it all seemed very remote from the tranquil streets of Ickenham, which we were steadily approaching, passing through a pleasantly wooded area and a bridge crossing the River Pinn, along which you can walk thanks to Hillingdon’s handy guide to the Celandine Way.

Though Ickenham is on the Piccadilly line it looks like a very rural little station and coming into the village itself after Long Lane there were two pubs and a village pump and pond to complete the picture. Not surprisingly there is an active Residents' Association.

Leaving Ickenham, the ‘villagey feel’ continues as the bus makes it way towards Ruislip, though the grander homes of the earlier part of the ride now gave way to smaller more modest semis. The ride was very smooth (so smooth the one not pensionable age passenger fell asleep over the handle of her infant’s buggy) and the driver kindly paused for a lady who was waiting on the wrong side of the road and then chose to cross behind, encircling the bus completely before finally boarding: the mutters of other passengers indicated that they knew her ‘habits’ of old. 

‘The White Bear’ pub would not have looked out of place in the country, though neatly situated between Ruislip Manor and Ruislip stations. The latter was the cause of our only slight delay on this trip – there appear to be major road and building works round Ruislip Station and none of the usual bus stops there were functioning.
Ruislip High Street still felt quite intact and intimate so it was not surprising that we picked up a handful more passengers for their trip home.

At the end of the High Street the shops give way to police station, residential homes for the elderly and another pretty pub before the U10 turns left up Sharps Lane. Like much of the ‘Metroland’ area, growth and development would have been stimulated by the arrival of the rail and underground trains and the last 10 minutes or so of this trip were through a thoroughly solid residential area now with mature trees and gardens. Bishop Winnington Primary School has a history dating back to 1812 (so well before any of the key Education Acts) but the buildings the bus route passes are clearly more modern. Heathfield Rise does indeed incline upwards. There is a resting place beside a triangle of grass but the driver did not linger for his statutory 2
minute break, but took on a load of passengers mainly youngsters on their half-term break.

This route had been a very pleasant cross-country trip allowing me glimpses of some of the ‘bones’ of the original villages that now go to make up the commuter areas of Uxbridge, Ickenham and Ruislip.  

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