Grand Junction Inn to Little Tring Bridge, Wendover Arm, Grand Union Canal
A load of washing was set going before we pushed off today. Still heading southwards we cruised through Bulbourne Bridge and pulled up at the water point. Here we filled the tank as the washing machine did it’s thing. Then we winded at the handy ‘Winding Area’ (as they are now known on new blue signs) and headed northwards.
The old Bulbourne BW yard is fenced off, along the canalside from the road and surrounding area. Here lock gates uses to be made until 2003 when modern mechanised methods and bad vehicle access meant that production moved to Stanley Ferry and Bradley. The yard and it’s surrounding buildings since then have been used by a metal worker, who’s creations used to add interest, large horses and benches filling the canal side of the yard. But now everywhere is boarded up, it looks like some developers are about to move in.
A C&RT document about the future of Bulbourne is here. I’m not sure when it was written but it details the site. H2O Urban has details of a development on the site here. Four buildings will be converted into 25 new homes, a new footbridge and a new yard for C&RT. Works were meant to start last month on site and a website for the development is being set up here.
We pootled back to the junction where we turned to the left just above the locks. Here the Wendover Arm heads off in a south westerly direction. Back in February 2015 we came down here on Lillian. The navigable section is only around a mile and a half long with a winding hole and 48hr mooring at the end. The going is slow, very slow, most probably slower than it was on Lillian.
Originally the arm was built as a feeder for the summit pound, this was then widened to make it navigable. This however leaked and was shut off with stop planks. A hundred years later Phase 1 of the restoration plan was finished giving us what is navigable today. Phase 2 is ongoing with the aim of linking Wendover to the main network.
Along the slow mile we were followed closely by Terns. They took it in turns to hover behind us waited to catch a glimpse of a silvery fish in the water. Dropping from the sky to the water they hoped to catch a tasty morsal. Each turned their backs on us, so we couldn’t see if they had been successful of not. Quite a sight.
We pulled in just before the last bend where several fishermen had taken up residency, a day boat having just winded and was heading back waited for us to tie up. There was another boat before the bridge and one right at the end of navigation, but here it felt like we were on our own, all be it with a noisy mower going back and forth in the garden next door.
The sun was out, our windows and hatches all open. Tilly spent seven hours exploring and wondering why we weren’t out playing. Well that’s because we’d come down here for some peace and quiet away from the main canal so that I could get some work done over the next couple of days.
Late afternoon Oleanna bumped the side, someone was coming. Ten minutes later a day boat filled with chaps zoomed past us, bumping us into the side, thankfully Tilly wasn’t peering in through the hatch at the time! Very soon afterwards they zoomed back , not quite as fast as before, they hadn’t had long enough since doing a hand break turn to get up to speed again!
0 locks, 1.85 miles, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 load washing dried and put away, 3 terns, 1 heron, 1 canal being topped up, 1 traction engine, 2 more boats, 5 fishermen, K2 or K6? 4 pieces of car, 7 hours, 1 friend rescued, 1 very sunny day, 1st cuff knitted.