London Notting Hill & Portobello Road Walk
This lovely 8km (5 mile) walk takes you from Notting Hill Gate underground station to Westbourne Park underground station (or vice versa) via the famous Portobello Road , the chic shops and cafes of Westbourne Grove, and through the garden squares and mews of Notting Hill, made famous in the film of the same name! So soak in the atmosphere, savour a cupcake, try some fresh roasted coffee or a prosecco over lunch, and experience the real London.
We will start this walk at Notting Hill Gate underground station.
To see more of the area around here take a look at our Holland Park London walk. Head West along Notting Hill Gate A402 as you come out of the underground station then turn left just before the Gate Cinema along Farmer Street. Cross over Uxbridge Street to continue along Farmer Street. This area of lovely pastel-coloured houses is known as Hillgate Village (Map Point 1).
Turn right at the end of Farmer Street and walk along Hillgate Place to the end, then follow it round to the right along Farm Place. Turn left into Uxbridge Street then left again into Campden Hill Road. Turn right into Aubrey Walk and follow this along. Just before it bends round to the right you will see a Blue Plaque on the house on your right marking where the famous singer Dusty Springfield once lived. Born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien in 1939, Dusty Springfield was one of the most successful British female performers, with six top 20 singles on the United States Billboard Hot 100 and sixteen on the United Kingdom Singles Chart from 1963 to 1989. She is a member of both the US Rock and Roll and UK Music Halls of Fame.
Follow Aubrey Walk round to the right where it turns into Aubrey Road, then take the first road on the right into Campden Hill Square, a lovely residential area. Take the first left to walk down alongside the gardens of Campden Hill Square.
At the end, turn left onto Holland Park Avenue (Map Point 2). Walk along here, crossing over Aubrey Road when safe to do so, then turn left into Holland Park. The houses in the streets here named Holland Park are some of the most expensive in London and are famed for their size and width (each is 45 feet (14 m) wide) being double fronted and on wide treelined streets. The street is popular with celebrities, embassies, and wealthy businessmen — once home to (amongst others) Sir Richard Branson and David Beckham and his wife Victoria Beckham. Holland Park street actually consists of three linked roads all of the same name (and in the middle Holland Park Mews) constructed between 1860 and 1880.
Follow the first part of Holland Park up and around to the right, then turn right into Holland Park Mews. As you come out at the end turn right to walk along another section of Holland Park until you reach the main road Holland Park Avenue. Cross over at the pedestrian crossing lights and turn right along Holland Park Avenue, then first left into Princedale Road. Turn first left again into Norland Place where you will see a row of lovely terrace houses.
At the end you will come out at Norland Square – turn right to walk along the edge of the square then left at the top to continue around the square along Queensdale Road (Map Point 3).
Take the second road on the right, Addison Avenue. Turn right at Saint James church into St James’ Gardens and follow this garden square, turning left at the end of the square then right into Penzance Place. Take the first left into Princedale Road.
At the end of Princedale Road, where it bends right to become Kenley Walk and then right again into Pottery Lane, continue across the road straight ahead when safe to do so into Walmer Road. A little further along Walmer Road on your right you will see the historic Bottle Kiln (Map Point 4).
Pottery Lane today forms part of one of London’s most fashionable and expensive neighbourhoods, but in the mid-19th century it lay at the heart of a wretched and notorious slum known as the “Potteries and the Piggeries”. It takes its name from the brick fields which lay at the northern end of the street. The Pottery Lane brick makers soon found themselves living and working with pig-keepers who had been forced to move west from Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road as London expanded westwards. Sanitation was poor and fresh water scarce. Many families lived with the pigs in their hovels, which soon became slums. The brick-makers themselves were said to be “notorious types”, known for “riotous living”.
One local resident, who had lived in the neighbourhood for forty years, described the area as: “Now pig keepers is respectable; but them bricklayers, they bean’t, some of them, no wiser than the clay theys works on….On Sundays we had cock-fighting and bull-baiting, and lots of dogs were kept on purpose to amuse the people by fighting and rat killing. People around the place were frightened of these dogs, and nobody ever cared to come nigh the place. We didn’t ourselves venture out after it was dark; if we hadn’t got in all we wanted before night, why we jist went without it, for besides the dogs…there was the roads; leastwise, we called ’em roads, but they wornt for all that – it was jist a lot of ups and downs, and when you had put one foot down, you didn’t know how to pull the other one up.”
There were no planning restrictions and no proper drainage or sanitary arrangements. Extraction of the clay left large holes which became filled with stagnant water, pig slurry and sewage. One of these pools grew to such proportions that it became known as “the Ocean”. In the mid-19th century, the street had become so bad it became known as “Cut throat lane”. In 1850 Charles Dickens described the area as “a plague spot scarcely equalled for its insalubrity by any other in London”. The Bottle Kiln is the only surviving brick kiln from this time. We think you’ll agree, it looks very different today with multi-million-pound houses all around!
Continue your walk past the Bottle Kiln and take the little pedestrian short cut on the right into Portland Road. Walk to the end and turn right into Clarendon Road. Take the first left into Lansdowne Rise then the second right into Lansdowne Crescent. Follow this round to the left, then turn right at the end into Ladbroke Grove B450. Cross over when safe to do so and turn left into Kensington Park Gardens. You are now in the heart of Notting Hill.
Very run-down until the 1980s, Notting Hill now has a reputation as an affluent and fashionable area known for attractive terraces of large Victorian townhouses and high-end shopping and restaurants (particularly around Westbourne Grove and Clarendon Cross). Since it was first developed in the 1820s, Notting Hill has had an association with artists and “alternative” culture.
Notting Hill (the film) is a 1999 British romantic comedy film set in Notting Hill, London. The film stars Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Rhys Ifans, Emma Chambers, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee, and Hugh Bonneville. It became the highest grossing British film released that year, won a BAFTA, was nominated in two other categories, and won other awards, including a British Comedy Award and a Brit Award for the soundtrack. Will’s bookshop was on Portobello Road, one of the main areas in which filming took place. Other places within Notting Hill included Westbourne Park Road, Golborne Road, Landsdowne Road and the Coronet Cinema. Will’s house, 280 Westbourne Park Road, was owned by Richard Curtis and behind the entrance there is a grand house, not the flat in the film that was made up in the studios. The blue door was auctioned for charity though the current door is blue again! The Travel Book Store is located at 142 Portobello Road.
As you walk along Kensington Park Gardens, turn left into Stanley Crescent, then right into Stanley Gardens. Turn right again onto Kensington Park Road and cross over to the other side when safe to do so. Turn left into Chepstow Villas then left again onto the famous Portobello Road.
Portobello Road on Saturdays is home to Portobello Road Market, one of London’s most famous street markets, known for its second-hand clothes and antiques. Portobello Road’s distinctiveness does not just rely only on its market. A range of communities inhabiting the street and the district contributes to a cosmopolitan and energetic atmosphere, as do the many restaurants and pubs. The architecture plays a part too, as the road meanders and curves gracefully along most of its length, unlike the more formally planned layout of most of the nearby area. Mid- to late-Victorian terrace houses and shops predominate, squeezed tightly into the available space, adding intimacy and a pleasing scale to the streetscape. Portobello Road Market draws thousands of tourists each year. The main market day for antiques is Saturday, the only day when all five sections are opened: second-hand goods, clothing and fashion, household essentials, fruit, vegetables and other food, and antiques. However, there are also clothing, antique, bric-a-brac, fruit and vegetable stalls throughout the week and are located further north than the antiques, near the Westway Flyover. Shops and cafes are open daily.
Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event held here in August, over two days (Sunday and the following bank holiday). It has continuously taken place since 1965 and is led by members of the Caribbean population, many of whom have lived in the area since the 1950s. The carnival has attracted up to 1.5 million people in the past, putting it among the largest street festivals in Europe.
Walk up Portobello Road, crossing over Westbourne Grove and turn right into Lonsdale Road (Map Point 5). Turn first right into Colville Road then first left into the trendy Westbourne Grove. Walk along Westbourne Grove and enjoy the window shopping around here (or real shopping if your credit limit is up to it!). Cross over Ledbury Road when safe to do so and continue along Westbourne Grove. Turn first left into Needham Road then at the end left again into Artesian Road. Follow this along to Ledbury Road, turn left along here, cross over when safe to do so, then turn right into Lonsdale Road. A short distance along here look for the small archway on your right and go under here onto Colville Mews, a lovely little row of mews cottages.
Continue all the way to the end of Colville Mews back onto Lonsdale Road, turn right and follow it all the way back to Portobello Road (Map Point 5).
Turn right onto Portobello Road and continue up here enjoying more of the quirky and unusual shops. Cross over Colville Terrace then turn right into Talbot Road. Continue straight ahead along here past Colville Square Gardens on your right hand side.
A little further along you will pass the entrance on your left to the Tabernacle. Turn left just past here into Powis Terrace. The Tabernacle is a Grade II-listed building built in 1887 as a church. The building boasts a curved Romanesque façade of red brick and terracotta, and towers with broach spires on either side. Today the Tabernacle serves as a cultural arts and entertainment venue, including a theatre, meeting rooms, music studio, art gallery, bar and kitchen, conservatory, and a garden courtyard.
At the end of Powis Terrace turn right onto Westbourne Park Road, cross over to the other side at the pedestrian zebra crossing when safe to do so, then turn first left into St Luke’s Road. Turn first left again through the archway into St Luke’s Mews, regarded as one of the prettiest mews terraces in London (Map Point 6).
Take the first road on the right into All Saints Road, then first left into Lancaster Road. The section here is one of the areas with many different pastel coloured houses that you often see in the guide-books to London!
Walk along Lancaster Road until you get back to Portobello Road and turn right to continue up Portobello Road, under the Westway flyover, until you reach the crossroad with Chesterton Road to the left, Golborne Road to the right and Portobello Road straight ahead.
Turn right into Golborne Road and continue ahead towards the imposing concrete Trellick Tower (Map Point 7).
Trellick Tower was designed in the Brutalist style by architect Ernő Goldfinger and was opened in 1972. It was the last major project he worked on, and featured various space-saving designs, along with a separate access tower containing a plant room. High-rise apartments and Brutalist architecture was falling out of favour by the time the tower was completed, and it became a magnet for crime, vandalism, drug abuse and prostitution. Its fortunes gradually improved in the 1980s after the establishment of a residents’ association. Security measures were put in place and a concierge was employed, which led to lower crime levels. By the 1990s the tower had become a desirable place to live, and although it still contains predominantly social housing, demand for private flats has remained high. A local landmark, it has been Grade II* listed since 1998, and has retained its distinctive concrete facade as a result, featuring on film and television several times.
Continue along Golborne Road past Trellick Tower on your right, and where Golborne Road ends and Kensal Road starts on the right, continue straight ahead into the gardens by the side of the canal. Turn right along the canal and follow the canal towpath round to the next bridge over the canal at A4207 Great Western Road. Exit the canal here onto the road (stepped and step free exits available). Turn right onto Great Western Road to head South, and in a short distance you will come to Westbourne Park underground station where this walk ends.
Overview of Route:
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