CSCC Reports 2005: Grand Union Canal 13 March 2005
On Sunday 13 March 2005 Diane, Beth, Dan Jones, Dan Halpern, Richard, Chris, Alex and Luis went for an 11 mile urban paddle from Yeading in West London to Chiswick via the Grand Union Canal and Thames.
The get-in was the pleasant Willow Tree Marina on the Paddington Arm of the canal where there was ample secure parking. On leaving the Marina we turned right (South) onto the last couple of miles of the Paddington Arm. A rather monotonous section, it was distinguished only by a very strong aroma of coffee coming from Nestle's Hayes factory. At Bull's Bridge junction we turned left (East) joining the main Grand Union canal and passing numerous houseboats and industrial premises. Along this stretch we could smell another strong and not unpleasant aroma from a food processing plant - this time of toffee.
We soon came to a pleasant almost rural section where the canal runs through Osterly Park and arrived at the attractive Hanwell flight of 6 locks. On completing the portage we stopped at the bottom lock for a rest and something to eat. At this point the River Brent flows into the canal and the river flow seemed to make for easier paddling for the remainder of the trip.
A little further on, to avoid portaging Clitheroe's lock, Richard, Alex and Luis decided to shoot a weir only to find that below the weir the stream soon became a sluggish, choked, jungly backwater which was completely blocked at one point. At Brentford the three intrepid explorers eventually caught up with the main group.
The final twisting section between Brentford Lock and Thames Lock was one of the most attractive and interesting of the whole trip. Getting in after carrying the boats round Thames Lock was exceptionally inconvenient, involving a seal launch which competely submerged Richard's boat and, for the rest of us, a precarious climb of about 2 metres down a metal ladder. We paddled out into the Thames in failing light and made rapid progress on the ebbing tide as darkness fell past Kew Bridge, Oliver's Ait and the City Barge and then along the very familiar stretch from Kew Railway Bridge to Barnes Bridge.
All images ©2006 CSCC Chris Stephens / Alex Skinner / Luis Trevino