Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Heading North away from London

In the last few days we've travelled through London and out the other side.  We are now on new waters for Leo, on the River Lee just North of Enfield with the M25 just visible ahead of us.

Having escaped the busy Thames before last weekend we carried on Saturday morning following the Grand Union Canal up the Hanwell Locks to the turn right onto the Paddington Arm which leads into London.  Here are some canal oddities we met on the way:

How about this - fancy being a champion pile driver?  I wonder where the pile driver is today.

This is a ramp to enable any horses towing boats that have the misfortune to fall in the canal, to get out again.

Behind the wall was the asylum at Hanwell that is right beside the flight of locks.  The holes with the red painted doors were to enable firemen fighting fires in the asylum to put their hoses through the wall into the canal for water.

At the top of the locks before Bulls Bridge which marks the junction we met a fuel boat, Denebola, which kindly filled us up with diesel:

Peter, on Denebola, approaching with butty tied beside.

And after he had filled our tank he did the same for the boat moored behind us.

And then we made the left turn at Bulls Bridge onto the Paddington Arm:

Here we go following a broadbeam boat which was going very slowly but kindly pulled over to let us pass.

Going up through Southall, where we spent Saturday night, there seemed to be a lot of coconuts in the water which seemed strange.  The water all round London has been exceptionally clear but that does allow a lot of weed to grow:

This is before Leo came along

And this is after we had passed.

A fun section along the Paddington Arm is crossing the North Circular by means of an aqueduct over the top and, a few miles later, we came into Little Venice, a real mecca for boats.

Here we are looking down on the North Circular from the boat.

Boats moored two and even three deep on each side - it has to be Little Venice.  Lots of boats on the move too so this is an area for concentration and slow speeds.

Unlike last year we did not stop at Paddington Basin but turned left onto the Regent's Canal and set off down the locks towards the East End.

This is soon after the start of the Regent's Canal and shows the entrance to the Maida Hill tunnel.  You can also see the exit if you look closely.

The canal goes right past London Zoo and here is the Snowdon Aviary seen from the water.

This we did not expect - punting on the Regent's Canal.

 This unusual sign is right by the locks at Camden which in turn are right by the famous market.  On Sunday in the heat there were thousands of people round here with legs dangling over the side of the canal waiting to be crushed by a narrowboat tackling the locks.  As we went to Liverpool last year we thought we should take this picture.

I liked these interlocking lock beams on two of the Camden locks which are side by side on the top lock.

Isn't it a bit sad when the sights we knew so well from childhood are being demolished as was this gasometer near St Pancras.

And here we are moored on Sunday evening just before Islington Tunnel which at half a mile is the longest we've done yet this year.

In the evening on Sunday we walked back perhaps a quarter of a mile to a splendid light and water show which is by the canal and happens every evening totally free.  There are around 800 fountains each with a light which can be many colours and fountains dance and change colour in a synchronised way.  It was quite breathtaking:

On Monday we descended the last of the locks to Victoria Park and then turned onto the Hertford Union Canal (also known as Duckett's Cut) which leads across to the River Lee:

Here we are going under the bridge having turned left off the Regent's Canal onto Duckett's Cut.  The Cut is about a mile long and has 3 locks down to the River Lee.  We did this bit with a boat called Kingfisher with Diane and Tim.

Behind us is the last of the Duckett's Locks and ahead is the River Lee.

We turned left up the River Lee but to the right was this structure.  Something to do with some event last year we think!  We'll explore that area more thoroughly on the way back.

The first stretch of the River Lee was a bit of a struggle because of the weed, but above Tottenham Lock things improved.

You can see some of the weed here in front of a weir which leads down from the Lee Navigation to the River Lea (note the different spellings).

This is where we moored last night just above Tottenham Lock.  The two sailing barges seem authentic until you look more closely.  While they do enhance the scene, they are in fact offices for rent and were built in Dorset for Haringey Council.  I doubt they will actually sail.

Today we've carried on upriver through the boring bits with reservoir embankments on the right and factories on the left.  There were still some interesting sights though including Pickett's Lock where the lock-keeper demands a fee of one Bounty Bar to use the lock.

Some of the lower Lee locks are wholly or partially electric but Stonebridge Locks had the electric one being repaired so we had to use the left hand manual one which took ages - you can just see our companion boat Kingfisher in the left hand lock.

Here is Helen at the electric console for operating the lock at Enfield.  The reason she looks so tall is because I took this from down in the lock which is over 9 feet deep.

Enfield Lock had these strange hooks recessed into the wall which finish up below water level when the lock is full.  I'm really not sure what they are for.

So that brings us up to date.  We are moored tonight in a delightful spot above Enfield opposite some boats of the Rammy Marsh Cruising Club - one has an illuminated waterfall on land next to the boat.  In the next few days we will cruise on up the Lee and Stort and have the pleasure of sharing the weekend with our Essex friends William and Daphne as this is our closest approach to them.


  1. It gets better and better as you travel up further. We like the Lee and Stort, Ian's dad used to moor at Rammey Marsh, so we know it well. Have fun.

  2. Ian and Helen - coconuts in the water - an Asian tradition using the canal in lieu of the Ganges to send the soul of the departed away. They get stuck in the lock gates and cause all sorts of problems!

    Just missed you - came through Bulls Bridge on Tuesday!



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