I still remember hearing my great grandmother recall memories of her great uncle who fought at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. These links with history still raise hairs on the back of my neck! The Aylesbury Canal was finished in the same year. This walk takes in three canals, the Grand Union (Junction) Canal and the Aylesbury and Wendover Arms of the Grand Union Canal…and, at times, it feels like you’ve been transported back almost 200 years.
I think the start of December counts as Winter, at least it certainly feels like it this morning. It’s 8am as we pull into the car park at Startop’s End, squeezed between the reservoir and the canal. We are squeezing things in this weekend, ourselves. David is due back at lunchtime to watch the Spurs game and this is our only chance for a walk. It has to be short and local.
In no time we reach the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union. A narrow and also straight canal, the original intention was to connect up with the Thames but money ran out and railways arrived…the modern day equivalent of a Nokia 3310 mobile phone…technology has left it looking rather lonely and unused. Still, apart from the occasional jogger, we have the tow path to ourselves and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the early morning peace.
At Lock 11 we turn south and head across the fields towards Drayton Beauchamp where we pick up the Wendover Arm. Now, if the Aylesbury Arm feels left behind this has, until recently, been literally abandoned. There are plenty of signs of on-going restoration but it’s going to be a while before this resembles a canal again…in places it’s more puddle in a ditch. In contrast to the ‘ramrod straight’ Aylesbury Canal, this canal weaves its leisurely way back to the Grand Union at Bulbourne. An easy, flat walk and we’re back at the car park before our 3 hrs on the meter have expired. A major relief to one of us!
Bulbourne picture gallery (more pictures on Flickr):
Distance: 7.1 miles ; Difficulty: Easy
Postcode for Satnav: HP23 4LJ