Category Archives: Grand Union Slough Arm

Not A Day For A Thumbs Down! 4th July

River Colne Aqueducts to below Black Jack’s Lock 85, Grand Union

Goodbye Slough Arm, maybe we’ll give you another go sometime

A boat whizzed past us this morning, they were aiming for the end of the arm. They apparently made it….. but did they make it back?!

We pushed off just before 11am, things to do today and a minimum three hour cruise. Left at the junction and we were heading northwards again. Another stretch of moorings where there was plenty of space. Where have all the boats gone? If we’d wanted we could have moored up below Cowley Lock, however Puss Puss’s boat was moored there so we’d have chosen to move on anyway. Puss Puss is now quite an old cat a stray who adopted some humans. He quite often used to head to the pub with them giving woofers little leeway!

Cowley Lock

A volunteer at the lock saw us coming and set it for us, bunting zigzagging above. He said how quiet the canal was, a lady had walked down to see if there was room below the lock, room for at least twelve boats today. The cafe here now seems to be gone and the pub is having a serious makeover, Mick wondered if it will still be a pub or a private house.

Rubbish dealt with and the water tank refilled we were on our way again. Slow going to start with past all the moored boats. One of the Uxbridge boys was on their mooring, we’d played leapfrog with them and another boat early in 2015 as they made their way up to the Lancaster Canal.

A long length of towpath is being worked on, all the permanent boats moved elsewhere. Now when I say all the boats moved elsewhere, there were still a couple tied up, one most definitely sat on the bottom not capable of moving anywhere. We turned onto the service mooring at Denham Marina, time to fill up with diesel. 138 Litres later at £1.04 we reversed back out onto the cut and headed up the lock.

The curvy building of Uxbridge

Mick climbed up to help with the gates, these have short beams and are weighted to help, but they are rather heavy for a painful knee to do both. The lock cottage is for sale again, or is it still for sale?

Good luck Larry

It felt apt to take a photo of our Larry for PM banner with Uxbridge in the background, we’d once been in town when the ex PM was buying himself a pasty from Greggs!

We pulled in for lunch a short distance on from NB Old Nick, waving as we passed. We’ve never met but read their blog. A short break as more miles needed to be ticked off today.

Denham Deep

Denham Deep was set against us so required the top gates to be closed and then emptied. Caution required as the lock is so deep, but keeping Oleanna back and adopting out GU paddle routine worked and brought her up quite quickly. A couple sat and watched, aghast, it was their first lock as Gongoozlers.

The older railway bridge

Now I had to be ready for photos. The HS2 viaduct could be seen stretching off into the distance across the lakes, but only glimpses could be seen from the canal between trees. Then high above us we were dwarfed by concrete overhead. A glance to the west revealed a rather pleasing curve, plenty of air around the structure.

We wondered for a while what the extra bits were and why there were only two of them. Now looking at my photos closer it is obvious that they were the next concrete sections heading along the viaduct to be positioned.

Another section making it’s way to be added

A chap waved from above, his tiny size emphasising how big the hole thing is. I wondered who the engineer was who designed it.

The Bear in the Barge is now called The River Garden, a shame as I used to like their pub sign, the new one is easily forgettable, in fact I forgot to take it’s photo! Wide Water Lock was set ready for us, new paint work just about dry! Up we came deliberating on a return trip to London, sadly not to be.

Now we wanted a mooring, one suitable for Tilly, TV signal and the internet. We should have checked the blog for thumbs up or down at our planned for mooring today. Plenty of room below Black Jack’s Lock we pulled in to a gap between trees. Tilly was given a couple of hours, which she used pretty well. Mick set about tuning in the TV.

Hello all the way up there!

I now checked the blog, on one occasion there was a upward thumb, good tv, another a downward thumb, no tv signal. Oh blimey what a day to be without live tv! Mick worked his way round things, thankfully we had good internet coverage and it was a relief when we got more than just ITV. Sometimes our tv won’t even use the internet if there is no terrestrial signal!

We settled down to watch an episode of Traitors. Then turned over for the election coverage. The family whatsap group constantly pinging with anticipation. I decided to turn the heel of a sock just at the wrong moment as the exit pole results were announced. Once turned I realised I’d knitted it in the wrong colour! Out it came and was redone whilst watching Blyth and Sunderland rushing to be the first to declare. Once nine or ten seats had been declared we headed to bed, Tilly had already given up and realised the fishing rod game would not be happening until much later today.

4 locks, 6.4 miles, 1 left, 1 right, 138 Litres, 1 full tank water, 1 very long curvy concrete line, 1 high up wave, 2 hours shore leave, 0 live tv, 1 cat outdoors, 1 internet, 1 traitor, 9 seats, 1 late night but not as late as others.

We’d Better Turn At Bridge Nine! 3rd July

River Colne Aqueducts to River Colne Aqueducts

After breakfast and spending time convincing Tilly that she didn’t need to go out this morning we got ourselves ready to venture onto new waters. The Slough Arm has only been cruised a short distance further on, to the next winding hole back in 2015, today we aimed to reach the end. As recorded by, I’m not going to say many, some boaters there isn’t much at the end. Mile posts suggest a basin, but that is most probably just a winding hole now. Our map shows a water point, although it does suggest it’s just about impossible to reach. We hoped to see for ourselves.

It was drizzling, but undeterred we got ready to push off. Akeem was getting ready to tow the boat he’d been painting yesterday down the canal to High Line Yachting to go on brokerage, it would be easier for him if we moved first. A check across the way to the chap in his tent, no sign of him this morning, his tent gone, maybe he’d started to walk to Milton Keynes?

Without the M25

Pootling onwards the rain came and went, not too heavy, my waterproof trousers keeping it at bay thankfully. A C&RT weed boat had been going back and forth this morning removing Pennywort, they turned and moved to a wider section of the canal to enable us to pass.

Everyone warns you of how shallow the canal is and about the amount of weed. Akeem said two or three boats had ventured towards the end in the last week, maybe they’d have cut a channel for us, stay in the middle, we intended to do so.

There’ll be enough room to get past

Under the M25. The straightish canal means you can see a long way ahead and up ahead Hollow Hill Lane Bridge looked to be full of boat. I zoomed in, breasted up boats on the other side of the bridge, hopefully they’d have left enough room for us to get through. As we got closer a third boat could be seen, then a forth, the going was quite slow, but we slowed even more and just managed to squeeze past.

We weren’t expecting to see so many boats here. Some four abreast, but mostly two stretching on towards the next bridge. Bright green blanket weed sat on the surface and clung to the hulls. A chap came over to chat as we slowly passed, he was sorry things were a bit awkward for us, but it was boat moving day. A crane on the bank and four boats now stood out on the hard, one having passed us this morning. He also suggested we didn’t try to get to the end, ‘There’s a winding hole after bridge 9’. We took note, we already knew this, but it would be a shame to get that far and not see if we could get to the end.

Most definitely a narrow canal

Once past all the moored boats the going got better. Less weed and a bit more depth, no problem. Then the reeds got closer, just enough room for us to pass through. It was obvious we’d picked things up on the prop, our progress getting slower. Blasts of reverse seemed to do a little to improve things. Bridge 9, then the winding hole, we carried onwards, still not too bad.

Plastic and weed

Then bridge 10, the going slowed more. The depth reduced, bubbles rising to the surface, blimey what a pong!!! Then we could see the amount of rubbish that laid below the surface and the increasing blanket weed. One stop to clear the prop.

As soon as Mick started up the engine, put Oleanna into gear we heard the weed suck straight onto the prop within just a few seconds. By the time Mick had cleared the prop again the water around us was clearing and we could see just how much weed was down there! A full carpet lying about a foot below the surface. As Mick cleared the prop he could have almost pulled the weed up through the hatch, but it would have kept going and going.

Ahead there may have been better patches. Ahead there may just be solid weed. Oleanna sits quite deep in the water, lining up the prop with the weed no matter how slowly we went. If we carried on we’d maybe not get back to where we started today for many hours. If we reversed we’d only have to do a third the distance than if we carried on.

Quite a bit more!

It’s not often we’re defeated, but today we were. With the prop clear we started to head backwards, at a very slow pace. This wasn’t by choice. The barge pole was required as Oleanna had no forwards propulsion to help alter our course and using the bow thruster would just be plain stupid! She could now only go backwards. Our course corrected a few times, the barge pole kept upright and handy at the stern rather than laid back on the roof, then all propulsion ceased. Time to clear the prop again, we’d only managed a hundred feet!

Mick opened up the weedhatch again. The super sharp knife, propmate all useful, but the weed was wrapped around the prop shaft, he’d need a longer blade without the length of the propmate. The not so good bread knife was produced and used to carve his way through the weed. This took forever, blood rushing to his head.

In the mean time I watched Red Kites circling. They’d been visible for the last mile or so, about four of them. Now their numbers had increased, eight, no ten, no Twelve! Were our days numbered? Were they circling with Hitchcock intent? Then I noticed that they were occasionally diving down to a grassy area between houses, they’d swoop down in turn then climb back with something in their talons. What had someone put out for them? I really couldn’t see.

I tried filming them several times, this is the best I could muster whilst Mick was hacking away below the water line.

A further mountain of weed and plastic was added on the stern. We carried on reversing, poling our way straight back to clearer and deeper water. On our way out we’d managed two miles in the first hour, a mile and a half in the next, then 0.1 mile in the third hour! If we’d carried on to the basin we’d have not returned until midnight!!!

Pretty in parts

Once we reached bridge 10 the going got easier. Shame the blackberries are not ripe yet as we’d have managed to pick bucket loads as we went. Back to the winding hole we turned to face the east. Forwards propulsion now possible again.

You can wipe that smile off your face, you’ve not been down the far end!

Slowly past the long line of boats, Akeem had not long arrived to deliver the boat for sale. He asked how it had gone, we just sighed and waved goodbye. There was plenty of space back where we’d started so we tied up to the big posts, opened the door for Tilly to have an hour and a half shore leave.

Within again!

After a couple of hours a motorbike zoomed along the towpath, time for Tilly to be home, no sign! Half an hour later after the motorbike had returned I tried again. Mad cat woman on the towpath! I called and called, was that Tilly? Called some more, was I going to have to trust her to come home. Then MEOW!!! I’m up here you numpty! Up on the bridge across the canal she stood and proceeded to run across towards the other side! Come and see what’s on this outside Thankfully when I got up on the bridge she came running, she’d obviously finished what she was doing. As much as it would have been nice to explore with her it was everyone’s dingding time! Time to get back on the boat.

0 locks, 7.2 miles, 0.1 mph, 1 mighty mountain of weed, 1 pole, 2/3rds of a mile from the end, 2 boaters defeated, 12 red kites, 1/3rds mile reversed, 1 wind, 1 bridge, 1 extra hour, 1 seduction refused.

Does anyone know what time of year the weed is less? Plus, is it due to be dredged anytime in the next few years?

Free The Paddington One! 2nd July

Ballot Box Bridge to River Colne Aqueducts, Slough Arm, Grand Union Canal

The diesel tank hasn’t been filled since Pyrford Marina, the gauge showing quarter full. Mick doesn’t like the tank to be so low, in fact it may only have been so low once and that was when we picked her up from Finesse in Sheffield, just enough diesel put in her tank for test cruises. The question was, how accurate is the tank gauge? Did we need to seek out diesel today or could it wait for another day or two. The tank was dipped, 10 inches, plenty to keep us going.

Serious clearing up by Ealing volunteers

We made our way back to Bulls Bridge, the moorings by Tesco empty today, well apart from the sunken boat! We pulled in, had lunch, made a shopping list, moved the Larry banner to the cratch for it to be seen better and then went shopping.

A better position for Larry

With everything stowed it was time to get Mick away from chatting to a chap doing his best to avoid polishing his boat, leaving it to his wife. We winded at the junction and started to head northwards. In the last two years quite a lot has changed. Today numerous cranes sat to the east, the start of some buildings. Tower blocks that were going up are now full of people and the landscaping we saw being put in is now tall with plants.

Three miles or so on is Murderers Bridge (Colham Bridge) where in 2015 we said our final goodbye to our first second mate Houdini. Today Tilly was shouting on the top step Free the Paddington One! Tree filled outsides for boat cats!! Friendly cover for all!!! This election has really gone to her head!

Cowley Peachy Junction

At Cowley Peachy Junction we turned westwards onto the Slough Arm. We only cruised the first stretch back in 2015 when we couldn’t get further due to ice. I’m not sure where we moored for the night back then, today we tried pulling in just after the entrance into Packet Boat Marina, Mick managed to get off with a rope, but that was it, Oleanna wasn’t going to come in any more.

The moorings further along looked busy, we chanced it, hoping for a space. Several boats moored up, most looked like they were busy doing jobs. One space between boats might have been long enough, we carried on, a space at the end, better for Tilly. A chap chatted and helped with ropes. A fellow came over from his campsite on the offside for a cuppa. Akeem, I think that was his name, was very chatty, he was busy doing up a boat ready for sale, a coat of red oxide going on the exterior today.


When asked where we’d come from he said, ‘Oh you can’t moor in Paddington anymore!’ We explained that we’d paid and were quite grateful to know we had a mooring waiting for us. Through the years we’ve taken our chances in London like everyone else, reserved moorings when they were free, squeezed onto the Eco moorings when people have overstayed and paid to tie up in Paddington. I suspect we’d still visit London no matter what the mooring situation was, as we’ve both lived there and have friends and family we want to see. But now it’s reassuring to know we’ll have somewhere to tie up on arrival. Time will tell if there are now too many bookable moorings. Many visiting boaters won’t flock to London until they know the system is working, hearing tales of booked moorings being occupied on arrival doesn’t help the situation. London boaters choose to look when the moorings are empty. Yes they are not as full as they were when they were cheaper and the locations fewer. Only C&RT will know the true figures as they can see the bookings and get feed back from their mooring rangers.

A very vocal Tilly today

We settled in and Tilly was given a hours shore leave, at least it stopped her charging back and forth shouting about her rights and how once Larry was PM things would change, Salmon and real real chicken for dingding every day!

0 locks, 9.9 miles, 2 lefts, 1 wind, 2 boxes wine, 1 hour shore leave, 26.5 pairs knitted, 1 very political cat, 1 card returned, 1 knee improving, not much walking being done though.