A walk along the Grand Union Canal

It’s been a very warm and sunny Bank Holiday weekend in London and I managed to wangle it so that I didn’t spend every minute of it working.  During a few hours of spare time I decided to go on a 9 mile (15km) circular walk, the majority of which was through parkland and along a short strectch of the Grand Union Canal.

I took around 40 photos but here are just a few so you can a little of what it is like.

The first photo below is of The Grove, a luxory hotel just outside of London.  It is frequently used by international stars who want to get away from the cameras.   For a thousand years, main Grove estate was the residency for an aristocratic family.  Even in the Victorian time they remained very powerful, so much so that they refused to allow railways to be visible from their estate.  If you ever get the train from London Euston, you will go through tunnels from Watford that emerge on the far side of The Grove.

Last year David Cameron and Barack Obama played golf here.  You can see them from the reverse angle on this link here, the canal and a boat clearly visible.

 

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The Grove Golf Course

 

The Grand Union Canal was part of an extensive canal system that in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, transported heavy cargo across the U.K. The network still exists today though the primary purpose of the canals have shifted to lesiure.  It is very popular to hire a boat for a holiday whislt others live on them permanently and personalise them as with the boat below.

The path to the left of the canal is known as a tow path as originally horses would be used to tow the barges along the canals.  These days the paths are used by long distance walkers, cyclists, horse riders and campers.

 

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A moored narrow boat

 

The village of Hunton Bridge has several large houses which back onto the canal.  This house doesn’t just have a great garden with a private jetty but it has it’s own canal entrance too!

 

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A room with a view.  

 

The narrow boat below is heading south, towards London.  The speeds of the boats are tightly restricted to walking pace.  Partly this is to maintain the tranquil nature of the canals but the canals and surrounding banks are a haven for all manner of wildlife and the slow speeds ensure the wakes of the boat don’t disturb any of the creatures living here.

 

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A couple on holiday heading south towards London.

 

This is the recently restored and relocated Victorian Bandstand in Cassiobury Park.  Like The Grove, Cassiobury used to be a stately home but now all that remains are some of the gardens which is now a park… though a park even bigger than Hyde Park in London. The house itself was demolished 80 years ago though much of its precious furnishings and treasures were saved with some of the highlights being in the New York Metropolitan Musuem.

 

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A restored Victorian era Bandstand

 

The canals often run alongside rivers and use the river water.  When the canals are full due to the locks being closed, there are various dtreams, siphons and run-offs for the excess canal water to return to nature leading to all sorts of interesting habitats such as the one below.

 

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Lucky there are no alligators in English marshes.

 

The controlled waters of a canal made them useful for watermills and though the scene below looks very picturesque today, 180 years ago the building at the rear would have been a busy and very dirty mill.

 

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A converted Watermill

 

The shallow valley of the River Glade.

 

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Cattle graze under the hot sun.

 

Below is the River Glade, the natural river that supplements the canal at this point with the two waterways mingling and criss-crossing for several miles.

 

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The River Gade. The trees in the foreground and the right are Weeping Willow Trees and they naturally grow near waterways.  These days famously used to make cricket bats.

 

Below is the entrance to Whippendell Woods.  You might not have been anywhere near these woods but you’ve likely seen them in the first Star Wars Prequel as they stood in for the home planet of the deservedly maligned Jar Jar Binks.  Meesa not like him Ani!

 

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Whippendell Woods, home of Jar Jar Binks

 

Below is one of countless Lock Keeper Cottages.  In the old days the canal company would employ someone to operate and maintain their locks.  The locks were vital and the only way that the canals could do the impossible, allow boats to travel up hills.

 

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A Lock Keepers cottage

 

I took the liberty of filming two boats using a canal lock below so you can see this wonderful old engineering in action via my Ye Olde England Tours Youtube Channel.

I hope you enjoyed my walk as much as I did.

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in history, Life, Science and Engineering, Travel, Ye Olde England Tours and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A walk along the Grand Union Canal

  1. Francis says:

    A great walk – thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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