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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The shallow valley of the River Glade.
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.
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!
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.
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.