Wondering what to do in North Kensington? Here are some ideas for walking and beyond. Get ready for a fantastic experience!
North Kensington is lesser known part of Kensington borough. It’s not as high-profile as the southern part of the borough but there’s still a lot of interesting streets and places to discover. For most of us, it looks more realistic to live in North Kensington than in South and the life here seems much more down to earth. And because it’s not that well explored and talked about, it’s well worth a visit and some exploring.
Keep reading this post to find out what to do in North Kensington.
Something else than walking
Most of the time, when I write about walks on this blog, the posts are strictly about walks, either circular or from point A to B. I often choose a place I want to see, e.g. a gallery, a park or a coffee shop, and walk towards it but it has never occurred to me that I could go to a certain place for short activity and then (or before) explore the nearby area. That idea came to my mind when I was recently invited to a climbing session at Westway Sports and Fitness Centre. I did wall climbing at uni as part of my PE classes but that was 8 years ago, or even more. Therefore, I was absolutely delighted to be able to do it again. And this time, with my husband.
Wall climbing is a great activity for couples. While one person is climbing, the other one is securing them from the ground. It’s not like the climbing person leaves their life in their partner’s hands but you have to rely on each other. Especially, when you reach the top and have to ‘let it go’, i.e. lean back without your hands touching the wall and with your feet barely touching it. When my husband was quite reluctant of doing that, I felt like shouting – ‘let go, I’m your wife’. I didn’t but I hope it would’ve sounded convincing enough to him.
Climb your way to a walk
We spent a fantastic 1,5hrs in West Way Sports & Fitness. And we had a very helpful and friendly climbing instructor Ray. Within that time he managed to show us all types of climbing walls and introduce us to different techniques. He told us a bit about the climbing as a sport (it’ll be trialled at next summer Olympics) and was a very good company.
We tried the easy wall to warm up – that’s where we had to secure each other. Then, we went on to a wall which you can climb up on your own with support of a machine which will secure you and bring you down (pictured below), and that was a lot of ‘fun’. To lean back knowing that your partner is securing your from the ground is one thing but to lean back when you have to rely on a machine to carry you down is another. It makes climbing not only great physical exercise but also helps you to break mental barriers that stop you from taking risk in your daily life.
At the end we tried more sporty walls (picture below) where you don’t rely on anything but your own ability to climb. These walls are much shorter and you’re secured by special mattresses on the ground. We had to first practice falling down on them.
Climbing (like walking) is for everyone
The session was great fun, partly because I was able to do it with my husband, and introduce him to something that used to be quite big part of my life. But mainly, I reminded myself what a great physical and mental exercise wall climbing is. I absolutely enjoyed the atmosphere of the centre and various experience of different walls.
The amazing things is that you can start climbing at any time in your life. At Westway Sports & Fitness we saw school children as well as people in the age of our parents. You don’t need any particular equipment to start (even though some things may be helpful) and some people we saw did it in their casual clothes. You can pop in to the centre for 30 minutes or stay here for hours, which makes climbing really easy to fit in with busy lifestyle or with family life. And every attempt to climb up higher gives you a boost of energy and positive feelings.
If you are starting your climbing adventure, I suggest that you begin with a few sessions with an instructor to get yourself familiar with equipment and the etiquette. It may be a good idea to bring a friend along and embark on this journey together.
What to do in North Kensington (and around)?
When I got the invitation to Westway Sports & Fitness, I thought it would be absolutely brilliant to explore the area around the leisure centre, especially that I’ve never had a chance to do that and was quite curious of what to do in North Kensington.
Due to the weather we only managed a short walk but it was quite significant.
Recently, the area has been in the news because of the Grenfell Tower fire. When you go anywhere in North Kensington, you can’t avoid stumbling upon something related to the tragedy. So, when we did our short post-climbing walk in the area, inevitably we came across the tower itself and various memorials and info boards related to the tragedy.
The events of those few days in June 2017 touched me more than any other tragedy in recent years or months. I think, the reason behind it is, that it affected poorer people and also because it was so absolutely preventable. When I think of all those people who died and those who lost their family members and friends my heart is in agony – no less.
The first ‘stop’ we had was under the Westway (above). What struck me was how big and colourful it is. There are different sections with boks, tables and chairs for people to sit and, I suppose, relax. There are various graffiti and information across the walls.
The amazing thing is also how people of different faiths came together during that hard time. Under Westway you’ll see prayers written in Arabic as well as Psalms and other scripture quoted from the Bible, in English.
Grenfell Tower memorials
As we walked further, we came across churches which helped the victims and their loved ones immediately after the tragedy, and who have been helping them since. We saw little memorials scattered along the way, reminding of those few days in June 2017. The sense we’ve got from them all, was unity, love and being there for each other. It’s really sad though that we have to encounter such a tragedy to have those feelings coming to the surface.
I don’t suggest that everyone do this walk just because of the tragedy but I think it’s worth going around, and, if you can, praying for the whole situation. I don’twant to encourage some kind of sightseeing of the site, because that would be highly inappropriate. However, walking in the area pondering the tragedy, its cause, how can we avoid it in the future, and not ignore those who are worse off, would be something to honour the memory of those who lost their lives.
I’m also not including any pictures of the memorials we saw, because that was requested on them.
Other things to do near North Kensington
Sadly, on the day that we chose to go to Westway Sports & Fitness it was pouring down with rain the WHOLE day. We braved very short walk and it was really all we could manage. The good thing though is that if you decide to do some climbing (or other sport) at the leisure centre, North Kensington is located so strategically for city walkers that you’ll have a choice of various walks near and far.
North Kensington is located north of Notting Hill and West from Paddington, so it has some really great walking links to explore. Some of the architecture in the area is very interesting. The houses look as if they were build for army families.
Here’re some of my suggestions what to do in North Kensington and beyond:
Nearest to the Westway Sports & Fitness is Carmelite Monastery of The Most Holy Trinity in Notting Hill and its gardens. It’s been in St Charles’ Square since 1878! The monastery and the gardens are not open to public but the chapel is and anybody can join the Carmelite sisters for mass. Times are as follows:
Sunday – 8.00am
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – 7.00am
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, – 8.00am
It’s interesting to know that sisters earn their living by producing altarbreads (communion wafer) and they make quite a lot of them – between five and six million each year. You can read more about the Carmelites on the monastery website.
From the monastery, you can walk further towards Notting Hill and explore the area as you wish. On your way, you may want to visit Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising.
If, like me, you’re interested in buildings designed by Erno Goldfinger, I suggest you walk further south towards White City and Hammersmith. Somewhere between Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith, you’ll come across Greenside Primary School which was designed by Goldfinger. From there you can walk even further and try various parts of my walk from Acton to Hammersmith which leads through Ravenscourt Park, not far away from the school.