Heathrow Hinterland

Friday, December 13, 2013

I went recently on another Royal Geographical Society Discovering Britain walk.

This walk explored what it's like to live in the shadow of Heathrow airport.

Beforehand, I had expected to walk to take me through rather bland, boring mid 20th-century housing estates and lots of them.

Instead the walk went through two historic villages and lots of park and woodland.

Some things stood out...

There was a near constant smell of autumnal smog, like lots of log fires burning.

It was quite confusing and disconcerting. Was I actually smelling domestic woodfires (which, though polluting, have a comforting quality) or is the smell from the constantly soaring planes, the roaring traffic and the area's industry?

The planes are loud, but in some places the constant whirr from M4 motorway traffic is even louder.

The walk took in the previously proposed site of Heathrow's third runway, now a large field. I had rather glibly not paid very much attention to this debate at the time, but being there seeing the site put everything in perspective.

The walk was fascinating, an exploration of an area which I'd never considered before. I'll definitely be looking more closely out of the window the next time I fly from Heathrow.