24 Apr 2017

Uxbridge to Edgware Road along the Grand Union Canal - MoonWalk Training Walk

On Saturday I did another 20 mile walk with my friend Christianne as part of our training for the MoonWalk marathon walk on the night of 13th May. We decided to stick to a flat walk, and chose part of the Grand Union Canal, and 20 miles took us from Uxbridge to Paddington Basin, so seemed like a good route. I took my camera and lightweight 40mm pancake lens with me, and took a few shots along the way, and decided to process them all in black and white. Here's a few shots and observations from this rather strange route.

We met at Uxbridge station, which neither of us had ever visited, in spite of growing up not too far away. I was quite impressed with the station - a bit of stained glass and some nice old signs.

We came out, got some coffee, asked which way the canal was and soon found ourselves there.

Not far along we passed a cute pub and our first lock (Cowley Lock) where we had to cross onto the other side as the tow path disappeared.

There were some pretty house-boats at Cowley, and the sun came out for us. 

We continued on along the tow path which was surprisingly empty of people. We eventually passed a couple of women with pink sweaters and stopped to talk to them as it was clear they were also in training for the MoonWalk. 

We passed Yiewsley, Stockley Park and Hayes before reaching the junction at Bull's Bridge, where we were turning north, taking the Paddington Arm of the canal to get us back into central London - we'd already done 6.5 miles! We were making good time, in spite of my photo stops...

The canal then headed north, through the middle of Southall, although again along this stretch we passed almost no-one, and we couldn't really see anything of the areas we were passing through.

I became quite obsessed with the reflections of the bridges and the sunshine of the water on the underside of the bridges.

Other bridges had murals and artwork.

There were bridges everywhere!

We were getting a bit hungry, and I'd looked up beforehand that the only place to eat along the way was a pub at Greenford, the Black Horse. It was a welcome rest-stop. We rehydrated, had a burger, discussed how we'd decorate our MoonWalk bras, sorted out plasters on toes and refilled water bottles, before setting off on the next 9 miles. Greenford marks the point at which the canal turns east again and heads towards Alperton (one of the many stops I'd passed earlier on my journey along the Piccadilly Line to Uxbridge). It began to get a little more built up in places, and felt a bit more like London. People passed slowly on their narrow boats drinking wine and beer. A few kids were canoeing up the canal.

We walked past endless areas of wasteland, where old factory buildings sat. There seemed to be an awful lot of brownfield sites that could be regenerated...

We crossed over a major road - and later we worked out that it was the North Circular, with solid traffic in one direction. It was rather odd to be going over a motorway alongside a canal.

Just past there we walked past more factories and alongside an absolutely vile trench full of litter and probably human waste - as revolting as anything I'd seen travelling in the poorest parts of South-East Asia. The amount of litter on the route as a whole was quite shocking - particularly discarded beer cans.

There were some very cool old buildings though.

We passed Harlesden and continued on towards Kensal Green, past two empty gas holders, which were ripe for redevelopment like the ones we'd seen on our previous journey in Kings Cross!

There were quite a few weird sights along the way. People that live on narrow boats can obviously be a bit different!

Past the gas holders we came across a strange row of Victorian terraced houses at Kensal Town, with the outer wall against the canal and the other side against a road. They were incredibly narrow from front to back and a few storeys high, and some of them had the most incredible number of satellite dishes.

A bit further on we passed the famous brutalist Trellick Tower, a skateboard park in an area called Meanwhile Gardens, the Union Tavern and an area where the canal lies underneath the West Way.

Before long we were hitting the cuter area of Little Venice, which looked lovely now the leaves had come and the sun was out. It felt a bit nicer, as some of the areas we'd just passed through were a little sketchy.

We came to the triangular area of Little Venice where the Regent's Canal branches off to the north-west, and the Paddington Arm of the Gran Union Canal turns south-west. We were nearly at the end, and back at the beginning of our previous long canal-side hike.

We'd reached the end of the canal, and now to celebrate we headed towards Edgware Road, in search of ice cream. First stop - Patisserie Valerie - showed ice cream on their menu, but they didn't have any. We used the loo and googled "ice cream" and it showed a few places a little way down the road towards Marble Arch. We crossed over a road and I noticed the Lord Wargrave pub that I'd visited a few months earlier with a friend and so we headed there. Even if they didn't serve ice cream, we could get a beer! They had both ice cream and beer so it was a success. After delicious vanilla and lemon pie flavour ice cream and two half shandies we headed our separate ways, with sore squished toes and aching limbs and muscles. Next week-end is our last big training walk before the big one on the 13th May.

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