Just an amendment from yesterday. I thought that the navigable stretch of the River Chess, above Chess Lock, was to service a paper mill. In fact it went to Salter’s Brewery, a much more satisfying destination!
Previously the Grand Union Canal has followed the Bulbourne and the Gade, now we’re in the valley of the River Colne. But only because each river in turn has been absorbed by the next. The Colne, in it’s turn will lose itself in the Thames near Staines.
The canal is never short of water along here, fed by regular appearances of the river crossing the navigation. The influx of river water also makes it clean and popular with wildlife.
I mentioned yesterday that we should just about have enough water in the tank to last us until morning – well we did, almost. So at a quarter past eight we were reversing onto the waterpoint below Batchworth Lock.
Looking back at Batchworth Lock, the service point in front of the white building on the right.
Apparently it’s mayhem here when it’s busy, with the tap so close to the lock. We had to pull right back to the lock gates for our hose to reach. I could have used the extension, of course, but that’s why we came early!
The Little Union below the lock.
It’s dewatered for maintenance!
The next stop was just a little way up on the offside, the old Frogmore Wharf, now occupied by Tescos. The site was previously owned by wooden boatbuilders WH Walker and Brothers Ltd, which closed in 1988.
Tescos at Frogmore Wharf
Although we had an early start, the morning seemed to have slipped away by the time we arrived at Stockers Lock. But so had the low cloud, breaks now letting through plenty of warm sunshine.
The lock-keepers cottages alongside most of these locks are generally in fine condition, a real credit to the owners.
Below the lock a marker indicates the boundary at which duty on coal bound for London was due.
Usually the duty wasn’t claimed at the boundary, instead the markers were erected so that carriers couldn’t claim ignorance of the tax. But here, after the boundary was shifted in 1861, a permanent house was built for a collection agent stationed here. All the routes into the metropolitan area had markers erected on the boundary.
Also below the lock starts a long line of moored boats, most, I’m sad to say, in a poor state of repair.
It’s along here as well that you come across the bizarre sight of a stuffed gorilla hanging from a derelict factory…
He’s been there a while…
Springwell Lock is next, with another, more recent, boundary to be crossed.
The zone is to “…encourage the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles driving in London to become cleaner.”
I’ve checked, it doesn’t apply to us.
Copper Mill Lock comes next, after a pleasant wooded stretch of about a mile.
Copper Mill Lock
The river crosses the navigation here and can make life difficult in wet weather.
No problem today though.
Be it ever so humble…
…there’s no place like home!
Black Jack’s Lock is named after the mill that used to operate alongside, followed by Widewater Lock. The canal is fringed by worked out and flooded gravel pits, forming an excellent environment for water fowl.
Below the lock an abandoned pit is now used as Harefield Marina, and it’s opposite the far end of the moorings that we moored at around a quarter past one.
Didn’t they do well!
No other adults around, so I don’t think it’s a crèche.
Mum kept bringing the little ones around to the side hatch…
…but I’ve nothing for them. I’m sure they get well fed in the marina, anyway.
It’s been another similar day to yesterday. Overcast start, bright by late morning, then heavy showers in the afternoon. It’s dried up again now, though.
Locks 5, miles 4½