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Grassman

Southern Grand Union (south of Gayton) observations

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We are making our way down the Grand Union Canal towards London, currently moored in Cassiobury Perk near Watford. Despite having boated for 20+ years and 2,000 ish miles of cruising this is virgin territory for us as we have never been south of Gayton before, so I thought I'd share my observations and opinions and would welcome the opinions of others, and whether or not you agree with them.

 

We were pleasantly surprised by how nice some of the larger towns were. The likes of Milton Keynes, Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead all seem to have tastefully embraced the canal during their years of development with some lovely linear parkland accompanying the canal for long stretches, interspersed with varied architecture and other things of interest as we passed by.

 

Other smaller town and villages were nice as well, and the Wendover Arm was just as described by some of you on this forum, and well worth the detour.

 

The locks are all poorly maintained with leaky gates and stiff winding gear, much worse than we have mostly encountered elsewhere. The offside vegetation is very overgrown although being a wide canal it hasn't been an issue. I've never seen towpath vegetation so unkempt and overgrown. Having said that I'm not one who advocates having manicured towpath edges everywhere.

 

Nobody slows down past moored boats, probably because there are so many. Also being a wide canal it's probably not such an issue, but considering most mooring is by the use of pins as apposed to chains onto armco, the speed they pass could be an issue. however I haven't been affected yet probably because I always include a spring when mooring up.

 

But the real surprise has been the lack of boats on the move. Most days we come across only half a dozen other boats or less, whereas on our local patch, the Trent and Mersey we'd see between 20 and 30 boats a day on the move at this time of year. Some days we have moored up at lunch time and not a single boat has passed by the rest of the day. This will probably change as we get nearer London.

 

We've noticed there are many more older boats, younger boaters, and single handers than we are used to. Quite an eclectic mix which adds to the interest.

 

Finally, as we progress southwards the locals willingness to pass the time of day diminishes accordingly!

 

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Back in 1994, I went from Stockton to Little Venice. 

 

Then the vegetation was well managed, the locks well maintained but there were noticeably fewer boats,  either moored or moving, then there was on the northern parts of the GU.

 

Not only did we notice the locals get less friendly as we moved south, but each day we travelled we found that the beer went up by 10p 😣

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3 hours ago, Grassman said:

 Some days we have moored up at lunch time and not a single boat has passed by the rest of the day. This will probably change as we get nearer London.

 

You think?

They're not boaters down there, they're mainly interested in cheap living with a flooded basement.

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4 hours ago, Grassman said:

 

 This will probably change as we get nearer London.

 

 

 

Be suprised if you see any boat move between the Slough Arm and Kensal.

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Somebody has told me that the Paddington Arm/Regents Canal is very slow going due to trying to get past all the double and triple breasted moored boats. I'm thinking of doing Uxbridge to Little Venice in a day. This shouldn't be a problem should it?

 

Then after Little Venice we hope to get from there to Limehouse Lock in a day as well.

 

I'd have thought that both are fairly easily achievable??

  • Greenie 1

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Those are very easily achievable; from about Old Oak Common onwards you'll be passing moored boats most of the time, but there is a clear channel, they don't block the canal. I did Kings Cross to Limehouse Basin and back on Saturday, we took about 3.5 hours each way, so Little Venice to Limehouse should take under 6 hours. Maybe allow 8 or 9 hours if you're single handed, and bear in mind that some of those lock gates on the Regents Canal are hard work.

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Agree with the points above.  You might also want to take a slight detour via the Hertford Union,  and explore the Olympic park waterways and then take Limehouse cut to the basin. There are some optional bookable locks too.

 

I'm looking forward to the tideway cruise. 

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19 minutes ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

Agree with the points above.  You might also want to take a slight detour via the Hertford Union,  and explore the Olympic park waterways and then take Limehouse cut to the basin. There are some optional bookable locks too.

 

I'm looking forward to the tideway cruise. 

 

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Thanks for the info. I thought it would be easily doable. Perhaps the person who told me it would be pushing it must have had a bad day when they tried it.

 

I may try going via the Olympic Park way. I'll have a think over it.

 

Yes we're looking forward to the tideway cruise and it's great that we will be having a 'Thames expert' on board with us. :) 

  • Greenie 1

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On 13/06/2018 at 07:40, Grassman said:

 

Somebody has told me that the Paddington Arm/Regents Canal is very slow going due to trying to get past all the double and triple breasted moored boats. I'm thinking of doing Uxbridge to Little Venice in a day. This shouldn't be a problem should it?

 

Then after Little Venice we hope to get from there to Limehouse Lock in a day as well.

 

I'd have thought that both are fairly easily achievable??

Yes. Easy.

I recently did Uxbridge to Little Venice single handed in less than a day. And then two of us did Little Venice to Lower Clapton on the Lee in a day, having not set off until nearly midday.

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On 13/06/2018 at 07:40, Grassman said:

 

Somebody has told me that the Paddington Arm/Regents Canal is very slow going due to trying to get past all the double and triple breasted moored boats. I'm thinking of doing Uxbridge to Little Venice in a day. This shouldn't be a problem should it?

 

Then after Little Venice we hope to get from there to Limehouse Lock in a day as well.

 

I'd have thought that both are fairly easily achievable??

I used to allow 6 hours from Little Venice to Tottenham Lock via Hertford Union, its a similar time through to Limehouse.

Uxbridge to Little Venice is a doddle as just Cowley Lock to negotiate and the canal is quite deep for most of the run. - Watch out for the floating debris island around West Drayton area - moves around depending on wind direction but always there somewhere.

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That's good to know. We're now moored just up the Slough Arm at High Line Marina at Iver. Having been away from our base for over a month and with us going out on the tidal Thames next Friday I wanted to get everything checked over on the boat and get a few little jobs done beforehand. I believe in being as thoroughly prepared as possible, almost to the point of paranoia 😊.

 

Very helpful people at High Line and they've even let us moor here for the weekend.

  • Greenie 1

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