*Warning – this article contains copious amounts of lens flare and canal photos*
Another great day’s walking in the countryside surrounding London. This time we began our journey in the sleepy village of Denham. It was a cold and crisp morning but the sun was shining and there was no rain forecast so we knew it was going to be a good day. We set off just after 10 and immediately turned back so Nick could put on an extra pair of socks. Once his feet were warm enough we were on our way for definite and we strolled down the road and immediately on to the fields past a Lord of the Rings style fire beacon.
The route then took us past the Colne Valley Regional Park visitor centre before crossing the River Colne to get to Grand Union Canal. From here we headed north until we met Denham lock. The winter sun was weak and low which meant for some extremely pleasant landscapes. It was quiet with very few people which made for a very peaceful and serene stroll up the canal.
We ambled our way along the tow path with lakes to one side and a golf course to the other. We went under a couple of bridges and then headed past Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre where we could see some rowers frolicking in the very cold water. As we picked up the pace we passed South Harefield where there were some very picturesque houses with their gardens back on to the rivers edge. Great places to live although I’m not sure how well they would do in a flood.
As we reached Black Jacks Lock about 3.5 miles in we could see a beautiful pub up on a hill called The Old Orchard. Apparently it has beautiful views over London and some tasty ales. Although at 11 in the morning, perhaps it was a bit early to wet the whistle! About a mile further we reached another pub, still not quite ready for a pint we stopped on a bench outside overlooking Copper Mill lock for a tasty sandwich and some wine gums.
We carried on up the canal and soon were met with an atrocious scent of human waste. Whilst this is an altogether pleasant hike there is a few minutes of utter disgust as you pass Maple Lodge Sewage Treatment Works. It truly was disgusting so after a quick photo we moved on through as soon as we could. Just what was needed after a sandwich…
After Springwell lock the canal heads east to Rickmansworth. It was a lot busier here. Families, dog walkers, runners and cyclists made their way along the wintery canal. There was a host of canal boats moored along this stretch and they seemed to be fairly permanent. There was lots of quirky things which made it feel a bit like a wetland version of Camden. All they need is a few overpriced street food vendors and they could have themselves quite the tourist attraction.
Amongst other things was the decrepit remains of a building which looked like it may have been bombed in the war due to the massive hole in where the roof would have been. It’s difficult to see on the below photo but someone had tied a human sized teddy bear to one of the girders sticking out of the river. It had turned moldy and was quite creepy looking.
Once we reached Rickmansworth we had a choice to make. Either stick to the canal and head to west Watford and through Cassiobury Park or turn off from the canal and head along the Edbury Way to South Watford. We plumped for the latter seeing as we had seen a lot of the canal by this point. The Edbury way is a very old railway line which has been turned in to a path. It winds it’s way along for a couple of miles as things got gradually more and more urban and we entered Watford.
We headed in to the centre and then up along the high street to a pub for some lunch and a pint. The lunch was pretty poor, except for mine and the beer was fairly ok. It was absolutely freezing inside too so it was not exactly what we wanted after being out in the cold. Either way it was a great hike along a very scenic stretch of the canal.
It only took us 4 hours to do 12 miles but we were going at quite a pace. It could easily be split in to 2 with a good hour or so break in a pub for lunch. There is good transport links from Watford back to Denham so it was easy for us to get back to the car. A very pleasant day and I look forward to the next one!