Uxbridge and Battle of Britain Bunker – 3 February

Twenty five Poly Ramblers gathered at Uxbridge station on a mild and thankfully dry Saturday morning in early February. Unusually we split into two groups. I led a 6 mile walk south on the Grand Union Canal, then cutting across via the Slough Arm and Little Britain Lake and returning to the town on the London Loop alongside the River Colne. Meanwhile Danny led a similar but shorter loop for those who preferred a stroll or wanted to avoid mud.

My route was straightforward but I let my attention slip at Little Britain lake and we turned right on the wrong side of the river. Retracing our steps adding the best part of a mile to the route. Luckily it was the prettiest part of the walk with snowdrops and no one seemed to mind. Eventually, having negotiated a less attractive section of the Loop alongside a high fence, we rejoined the canal and passed the General Elliott pub, from where Danny’s group emerged, having enjoyed an early lunch.  Wanting our own lunch, we cut across town to the Battle of Britain bunker museum in Dowding Park (named after Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding who oversaw the Battle of Britain in 1940). We arrived at the Bunker café just in time for my group to eat ahead of our guided tour. The Bunker is 60 feet underground and housed RAF Fighter Command’s No.11 Group Operations Room throughout the Second World War. Our excellent guide, Dilip Amin, really brought the history of that period to life. We spent the best part of an hour in the plotting room with its large map table, squadron display boards, balloon and weather states, left exactly as it was when Winston Churchill visited on 15 September 1940. Dilip described how the room was used and the history of the Battle, complete with Churchillian tones! Eventually we emerged into the light and most of the group spent another half an hour in the Visitor Centre before heading back to the station.

Gillian.  Photos by Nita, Dominique and Gillian