The beauty of the Grand Union Canal never ceases to delight. It is a pleasure every Springtime when we travel down towards London, seeing not only the familiar sights but also catching a glimpse of something new. Then in October when we return to our winter mooring near Napton, we see a different canal and countryside, with autumnal colours, grown up ducklings and cygnets etc. “That tree needed a good trim in April and it’s well overdue now” is sometimes heard.
From our starting point at Saltisford, near Warwick, down to Brentford where the canal joins the River Thames, we cover 108 miles, with 128 locks and swing bridges. They are all manual, apart from one electric bridge at Winkwell. The cruising time for this is around 80 hours depending, of course, on the occasional hold up at locks etc.
Although we like the whole of the GUC, our favourite stretch is between Braunston and Berkhamsted. This stretch of 57 miles includes the two tunnels at Braunston and Blisworth, Stoke Bruerne Village, the lockless circuit of Milton Keynes, the very attractive Marsworth flight of locks and the Tring Summit, where we have never failed to see a kingfisher. Whilst this is our favourite stretch, the whole of the Grand Union Canal has appealed to guests for years and all age groups.
This year we have seen the addition of a Giraffe in someone’s garden, but were surprised that the 7 year old heron sitting atop a cherry tree near Apsley seems to have moved on. Or maybe it is being repainted!! However, the crocodile, stone lions and the dinosaur are still in situ.
Then there’s the flights – the main ones are at Stockton, Braunston, Buckby, Stoke Bruerne, Soulbury, Marsworth and Hanwell. Each has its own character. Our favourite is Marsworth, as the canal meanders around bends and the 7 locks over a mile or so are set close to the reservoirs and nature reserve. Not to mention the county boundaries of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire criss-crossing close by. Some boaters feel different, but we actually look forward to the flights. It’s easier to lock-wheel a flight than be one & off the boat frequently over a longer distance. And our guests enjoy them, too.