Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Home Counties Cruise: Day 18

We decided to eat out last night, and after considering some options ended up at The Weir, a gastropub overlooking a section of the River Brent.  It was pretty good.  Opposite, a former magistrates court has been converted into flats starting at nearly half a million pounds, and houses at almost one a half million pounds.

This morning we were up reasonably early, and set off at 8am.  The sun was shining, but it was pretty chilly to begin with.  The old warehouses which overhang the canal have been given some attractive cladding -- although other parts remain rather derelict-looking.

There are two individal locks beginning the climb up to the Tring Summit, and we also passed under the railway, the A4, the Piccadilly Line, and the M4.  One of the big office buildings has a series of knot sculptures along the canalside.

Before the start of the Hanwell flight, there's a prize winning length of piling.

When we reached the bottom of the flight, we had to turn the bottom lock.  But a couple of CRT guys had brought a boat down, and helped with the second lock.  It also meant all the other locks were in our favour.  All along this stretch had been notices about the missing girl, Alice Gross; at the second lock there were lots of police, and a film crew.  We saw two further crews walking down the flight as we went up.

The Hanwell Flight is really very attractive.  The water was so clear you could see all the rubbish on the bottom, but in general it's leafy and green, with plenty of people making use of the towpath.  Next to the locks are Ealing Hospital, which appears to have a very secure unit; and the former Hanwell Asylum.

At the top of the six locks in the 'thick' of the flight is Three Bridges.  Here the canal crosses a railway line, at the same time as a road crosses the canal.  It's not easy to get to photo of all three levels!

There are two more locks, and at the top one we found two CRT volunteers who helped us through.  We stopped at the water point at the top, and filled the tank and started a wash load.  Then it was continued along the long pound past Bull's Bridge Junction.  This stretch of canal is mostly through suburban areas, with lots of back gardens; it's disappointingly rubbish-strewn.  Bull's Bridge Junction looks completely different from this direction; as we passed the junction bridge we crossed onto waters we'd travelled before, and completed the Grand Union: over the years, and on Debdale and Briar Rose, we'd now covered the whole of the GU main line and its arms.

At the Nestle factory there was a very strong smell of coffee; it seems they make Nescafe there.  We had lunch on the go, then arrived at Cowley Lock, where another volunteer was on duty; his usual colleague had gone home as he had a new washing machine being delivered.  We did two more locks, Uxbridge and Denham Deep, then moored up alongside Denham Country Park.

12 miles, 13 locks.  (225 miles, 143 locks)

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