Grand Union Canal – Alperton – Paddington Basin – 23.02.2014

Our Sunday afternoon stroll was to take us along the Grand Union Canal, beginning at Alperton and was end at the Paddington Basin. As we started commenced our walk we soon became very aware that the towpath ran alongside a very industrial area, contrasting from our previous stroll. The canal wildlife did not seem to worry about the industry close by. Swans sat and preened themselves on the side of the canal ready to take yet another dip, whilst we were assaulted by a variety of smells emanating from various warehouses. It did make the walk a little more challenging as you couldn’t keep going without feeling that extra bit hungry LOL. Beyond the strange smelling warehouses, the towpath led us across a bridge. Not any ordinary bridge, but something that we had witnessed when we walked Offas Dyke and saw the “Pontcysyllte Aqueduct”, that helped canal boats fly across the river Dee valley. Unlike the Shropshire Aqueduct, as far as I could see this aqueduct was allowing the Canal Barges to soar above the North Circular! When it was originally constructed in 1801 this canal passage was built not traverse a roadway but the River Brent and when we were brave enough to look over the bridge we could just about see the river and the road.

Beyond the aqueduct we found ourselves walking under “Abbey Road”, sadly this is not the road immortalised famous by The Beatles :(. Further along we walked passed a very quaint old cottage, to which I quipped “That looks like a lock keepers house”, I didn’t realise how right I was! Just past the cottage we both spotted mechanisms for old lock gates. These were “Abandoned Lock Gates”, surplus to requirement, it almost sent a shiver down my spine to see, why had they been left to rot? What was the purpose of the lock? All very curious. After we had investigated the old lock we walked further down the path when we saw very large pub named the “Grand Junction Arms”, perhaps it original purpose was linked to the old lock?! As the pub was on the other side of the canal, we decided not to stop for a drink and continue on with the walk. Before long we came across yet another bridge, this time it was carrying “Old Oak Lane”. Old Oak Lane should not be mixed up with Old Oak Common Lane where the large Train Depot is located. Old Oak Lane is more famous for having the first station on the New North Main Line of the Great Western Railway, in the early C20th. If you are tall enough and you like trains, try peering over the large brick wall that runs alongside the tow path. We did and saw a very large train set :-)! Whilst we were trying our best to find ways of looking over the wall at trains, I glanced across the other side of the canal I noticed the “Mary SeaCole Memorial”.

From 2014 – 23.02.2014 – Grand Union Canal Walk – Alperton – Paddington Basin

This park is dedicated to a lady who committed her life to healing others. She lived in the C19th, born in Jamaica, where she married Edwin Seacole, Godson of Admiral Nelson. Unfortunately, a few years later he passed away and her next years were spent travelling. She visited her brother in Panama and found herself help healing the sick when doctors were unable too. When the Crimean war broke out she joined Florence Nightingale’s nurses, often risking her life by riding out to the front line to administer medicine. When the war left her bankrupt when it ended in 1856, over 80,000 people including members of the royal family attended a gala by the Thames to help her! One correspondent said of her –

“I trust that England will not forget one who nursed the sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.”
Sir William Howard Russell, War Correspondent The Times Newspaper, 1857

This part of the canal is criss-crossed by a number of roads as it was not long before we were walking under yet another bridge. This time it was “Scrubs Lane”, the lane I understand, would have led us to infamous “Wormwood Scrubs” prison – Scary stuff! Walking through what was a lovely green area, we suddenly encountered a very built up area. I am sure that this would have been at one time a substantial Industrial site for Canal Barges to deliver their wares. Crossing a very high Brick built bridge we noticed a very tiny basin where a number of Barges could have moored very easily. The area is very lively now with tourists and has quite a number of retail outlets instead of warehouses. Therefore, the canal boats which moor near these establishments would probably deliver passengers rather than stock to any of the outlets… Further on, I cheekily glanced through a window of one of the properties only to see a very large model of Spiderman hovering in it! The window belonged to “Canalot Studios”, however I am unable to find anything relating to what Spiderman represents – nice to look at though 🙂 .

From 2014 – 23.02.2014 – Grand Union Canal Walk – Alperton – Paddington Basin

The further we walked into London the more pleasant the surroundings of the towpath became. The “Meanwhile Gardens” were beside the path for quite some time with ponds, well cared for trees and vegetation, this was such a change from the industrial warehouses we had just experienced. It was so refreshing that we decided to sit and take a break for a while and enjoy watching any boats that may meandering down the canal. Although we could have sat there for quite some time, we decided that we should keep on our journey. Whilst we had been sitting pondering about the canal we both noticed a ominous looking church. It was dark and not particularly inviting, almost eerie, the architecture made it feel like it should be in some sort of Murder story. We soon discovered that this was St Mary Magadelene Church the inspiration for PD James novel “Taste of Death”, I’m certainly not surprised! The church featured prominently in the 1949 film Blue Lamp, it also has been used in TV series such as “Poirot” and “Lewis”. Amazing one church could be used for so much!

Moving on from Church, we found ourselves seeing gondolas and singing “Just one cornetto …” as we had reached Venice. No, we had not walked all the way to Venice, Italy, we had reached “Little Venice”, where the Regents canal and Grand Union Canal merge. The term “Little Venice” has been credited to two people who may have coined the phrase – Lord Byron and the poet Robert Browning. Whoever created the phrase, in years gone past this would have been a small haven with calm waters, magnificent houses surrounding a junction of canals where colourful narrow boats sailed past evoking an image of the Italian Venice to both of them. All we were missing was the lovely sunshine and perhaps some Ice cream to really enjoy this charming area 🙂 . Carrying on from Little Venice we finally reached Paddington Station. Whilst most people were hurrying inside with their luggage, making the station that little bit manic, boaters and their pets relaxed idling their hours away, the stations only relaxed resident (despite being fictional) would have been Paddington bear 🙂

From 2014 – 23.02.2014 – Grand Union Canal Walk – Alperton – Paddington Basin

We finally reached the end of the canal, at “Paddington Basin”, it was quite strange to look at it was undergoing works. The very end of it had been drained and there was no water in it at all. A large tarpaulin held back the rest of the canal waters, it was odd to see the bottom of the canal it looked almost vulnerable somehow. The basin was built in 1801 as this was the terminus of the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal, where goods were loaded onto barges so they could be delivered all the way to the midlands. The whole area is now very chic and surrounded by flats and restaurants.

We ended our walk here, but we did take the opportunity to walk onto Baker Street to take the train home, but we will revisit that famous street another time 🙂 Please feel free to browse through the photos by clicking on the photo below –

2014 – 23.02.2014 – Grand Union Canal Walk – Alperton – Paddington Basin

A Map of the route is –

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4 responses to “Grand Union Canal – Alperton – Paddington Basin – 23.02.2014

  1. Pingback: Aylesbury Walk – 21.04.2014 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  2. Pingback: Baker Street – Swiss Cottage Walk – 26.04.2014 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  3. Pingback: High Barnet – Chingford – Via London Loop – 27.04.2014 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  4. Pingback: Baker Street – Islington Walk – Via Grand Union Canal « Karen's Sponsored Walks

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