Continuing our steady progress to the River Thames, we have now travelled from Cassiobury Park to Bulls Bridge, leaving us just 6 miles to go.
Friday 7th April
Cassiobury Park, Watford to Black Jack’s Lock, Harefield
After a day off on Friday, when we explored the woods around Cassiobury Park, we were once again on the move. It was also my birthday but presents and cards were understandably thin on the ground this year. Angela’s parents had been organised and sent a package for both our birthdays before se set off. My present from Angela was the Bradshaws Guide to the canals and navigable rivers. Written in 1904 it is a fascinating read and shows what all those old wharves and buildings were being used for.
It was another lovely day and what a treat it is to travel without a coat. We made use of another canal side supermarket when we stopped at theTesco in Rickmansworth. Continuing with our chores, we also filled up the water tank, emptied the pee tank and got rid of our rubbish along the way. It’s not all relaxation.
We must be getting closer to London now, as we have seen our first underground train (going over ground) and several ring-necked parakeets. Their range seems to be spreading quite widely now.
We shared a few locks today with a single hander but after 6 miles and 9 locks we finished our day in the peaceful settings near Harefield. Yet again the water levels were a bit low at the side, so I walked along the bank and used our boat pole to check for a deeper section.
Saturday 8th April
Another day off, we are really getting into canal pace now. Our plan was to do some laundry then head off for a walk around the neighbouring lake. This area is littered with numerous lakes made from former gravel workings. Much of the gravel was used for the M25 and Heathrow airport.
The lake was just yards from the boat but unfortunately the only public path was on the far side and started in the opposite corner. This meant a 5 mile round trip to walk along one mile of lake and back again. On such a beautiful day though, this was no great hardship. Sitting by a lake in t-shirts and having a picnic this early in the year was a delight.
Sunday 9th April
Black Jack’s Lock, Harefield to Bulls Bridge near Hayes
Today was promising to be even warmer with temperatures of around 22 degrees forecast. With this in mind we were on our way well before 8am. Today was set to be our longest distance for over two weeks but we only had 4 locks to descend. At the second lock the gates had been left open and the people using it had also left their windlass behind. Maybe they had just had enough of boating.
Today was the Grand Union Canal Half Marathon, a point-to-point run from Cowley to Cassiobury, with buses at the end to get you back to the start. We met them all shortly after the start and many of them were already looking very hot.
They were all going faster than us though, as we were passing so many moored boats today. Then all of a sudden we had a long stretch of deserted canal and could finally get moving. We were surprised how quiet and rural it was this close to London.
Before noon our destination was in sight. Bull’s Bridge is the location of the turning to the Paddington Arm and onwards to Central London. I’m sure many people will be surprised that we aren’t stopping to see the sights of London, but we are just not big city people. We have only ever been to London for leisure reasons a couple of times.
We were hoping to get on the 24 hour Tesco moorings on the non towpath side, but they were all taken. Instead we are moored on the other bank for the night.
We are booked to descend through Thames Lock at 2:15 on Monday and join the tidal Thames. It is then about one and a quarter hours to Teddington Lock, the limit of the tidal section.
3 swing bridges