Grand Union Canal

The Grand Union Canal in England is part of the British canal system. Its main line starts in London and ends in Birmingham, stretching for 137 miles (220 km) with 166 locks.[1] It has arms to places including Leicester, Slough, Aylesbury, Wendover and Northampton.

The Grand Union Canal was also the original name for part of what is now part of the Leicester Line of the modern Grand Union: this latter is now generally referred to as the Old Grand Union Canal to avoid ambiguity.

Grand Union Canal at Braunston
The canal at Braunston
GU Canal Westbourne Park
The Grand Union Canal passing Trellick Tower at Westbourne Park, London
Grand Union Canal (near Westbourne Park)
The Grand Union Canal near Westbourne Park, London

History

With competition from the railways having taken a large share of traffic in the second half of the 19th century, improvements in roads and vehicle technology in the early part of the 20th century meant that the lorry was also becoming a threat to the canals. Tolls had been reduced to compete with the railways, but there was little scope for further reduction. The Regent's Canal and the Grand Junction Canal agreed that amalgamation and modernisation were the only way to remain competitive.

The Grand Union Canal in its current form came into being on 1 January 1929, and was further extended in 1932. It was formed from the amalgamation of several different canals, and at 286.3 miles (460.8 km) (281.3 miles (452.7 km) when excluding the shared line with the Oxford Canal), is by far the longest merged canal in the UK, whilst the Leeds & Liverpool Canal for being 127 miles (204 km) and having parts of the now-extinct southern end of the Lancaster Canal, is considered the longest single Canal in the UK:

London area
Main Line
Leicester Line

A 5-mile (8-km) section of the Oxford Canal forms the main line of the Grand Union between Braunston and Napton. Although the Grand Union intended to buy the Oxford Canal and Coventry Canal, this did not take place.

The section of the main line between Brentford and Braunston (formerly the Grand Junction Canal), was built as a 'wide' or 'broad' canal – that is, its locks were wide enough to accommodate two narrowboats abreast (side by side) or a single wide barge up to 14 feet (4.3 m) in beam.

However, the onward sections from Braunston to Birmingham had been built as 'narrow' canals – that is, the locks could accommodate only a single narrowboat. An Act of Parliament of 1931 was passed authorising a key part of the modernisation scheme of the Grand Union, supported by Government grants. The narrow locks (and several bridges) between Napton and Camp Hill Top Lock in Birmingham were rebuilt to take widebeam boats or barges up to 12 feet 6 inches (3.81 m) in beam, or two narrowboats. The canal was dredged and bank improvements carried out: the depth was increased to 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) to allow heavier cargoes, and the minimum width increased to 26 feet (7.9 m) to enable two boats of 12 feet 6 inches to pass. Lock works were completed in 1934 when the Duke of Kent opened the new broad locks at Hatton, and other improvements finished by 1937.

However, these improvements to depth and width were never carried out between Braunston and London. Camp Hill Locks in Birmingham were not widened, as it would have been very expensive and of little point, since they lead only to further flights of locks not in the ownership of the Grand Union. A new basin and warehouse were constructed at Tyseley, above Camp Hill, to deal with this. Although the Grand Union company had a number of broad boats built to take advantage of the improvements, they never really caught on and the canal continued to be operated largely by pairs of narrow boats, whose journeys were facilitated by the newly widened locks in which they could breast up.

The three sections between Norton junction and the River Trent (collectively known as the 'Leicester line') are mixed in size. From Norton to Foxton, the route is a narrow canal. From below Foxton to Leicester it is a wide canal. From Leicester to the Trent, the route is effectively the River Soar and the locks and bridges are wide. Another Act of 1931 authorised the widening of the locks at Watford and Foxton, but with Government grants for this section not forthcoming, the work was not carried out.

The Grand Union Canal was nationalised in 1948, control transferring to the British Transport Commission, and in 1962 to the British Waterways Board, later British Waterways. Commercial traffic continued to decline, effectively ceasing in the 1970s, though lime juice was carried from Brentford to Boxmoor until 1981, and aggregates on the River Soar until 1996. However, leisure traffic took over, and the canal is now as busy as it ever was, with leisure boating complemented by fishing, towpath walking and gongoozling. More recently freight traffic has returned with the carriage of aggregates from Denham to West Drayton in barges and narrow boats, and the opening of a new wharf for re-cyclables and aggregates at Old Oak Common.

Brentford to Braunston

One end of the Grand Union Canal (Grand Junction Canal – Main Line) is at Brentford on the River Thames in west London, where the canal follows the engineered course of the Brent. The double Thames Lock at Brentford separates the Tideway administered by the Port of London Authority from the River Brent/Grand Union Canal, administered by the Canal & River Trust. The locks on the canal are partially numbered: numbered consecutively south of its turn-off for Leicester, Braunston Junction. Thames Lock is lock number 101.

Thames Lock, Brentford, Spring Tide, Twilight, 20050113
The Thames Lock on the Grand Union Canal, Brentford, West London. Photo taken in twilight at the peak of a spring tide

For more than 3 miles (4.8 km) upstream of Thames Lock, the canal and the Brent are one and the same, and the waterway is semi-tidal until the double Gauging Lock (lock 100) at Brentford. Just upstream of the Gauging Lock was a large canal basin, now known as Brentford Lock, from which the canal covers more distance passing through two more locks. The river and canal part at the base of the Hanwell flight of locks (92–97), before two more locks take the canal to Norwood Green. It then heads westward over level ground through Southall, Hayes and West Drayton until it reaches the gentle valley of the Colne.

Three miles (5 km) from Norwood on this long level is Bulls Bridge[2] Junction, once the site of the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company's main dockyard. At Bulls Bridge, the Paddington Arm branches off to the north and runs 12 miles (19 km) to join the Regents Canal at Little Venice (see below). Just before Uxbridge is Cowley Peachey Junction, where the Slough Arm branches off westward.

At suburban Cowley, before the 1930s a rural village, the canal begins to climb the valley of the River Colne north north-west into the adjoining town of Uxbridge. After Denham and Harefield villages, it passes to the south of Rickmansworth. Here it merges with the Rivers Chess, Colne and Gade. After Rickmansworth, the canal follows the valley of the Gade, passing the site of Croxley paper mill. The canal skirts Watford through Cassiobury Park, passing under the M25 motorway as it approaches Kings Langley.

Locks become more frequent as the climb into the Chiltern Hills steepens. The original four locks here were replaced in 1819 by five shallower ones to alleviate problems with water supply to the nearby paper mills. This realigned the canal to the south of its former course; the locks here are still referred to – without irony – as "The New 'Uns" by traditional boaters, and the term has been passed on to a new generation of canal users.

After Kings Langley and Apsley – the site of more former paper mills – the canal passes the town Hemel Hempstead and Boxmoor Common. From here the canal follows the course of the River Bulbourne through Bourne End with the well-known swingbridge at Winkwell, and the "Port of Berkhamsted, a small compact town". At Cow Roast Lock the canal reaches the 3-mile (5-km) summit at Tring in the Chiltern hills, having risen through 54 locks since Brentford.

At the north-west end of the summit level is Bulbourne Works, where lock gates were manufactured until 2003 for the southern canal network. Half a mile (800 m) further on, the canal reaches the top of the Marsworth flight of seven locks, which begin the descent to the Vale of Aylesbury. A Wendover Arm branches off westwards from the summit level under a bridge adjacent to Marsworth Top Lock and is currently navigable for just over a mile to moorings and a winding hole; it has restoration project to extend it back to Wendover. This part of the canal in parlance used by natives and canal staff was "the withered arm" and in fact was only really "opened" to allow the pumping station there to pump water into the uppermost level. A few hundred metres beyond the bottom lock of the flight, the Aylesbury Arm branches off to the south west.

The Grand Union crosses the wide valley gradually, descending by interspersed locks past the villages of Cheddington, Horton and Slapton until it reaches Leighton Buzzard. Traditionally this section of the canal is called "Slapton Fields" or just "The Fields" by boaters.

BradwellAqueduct-GUC
New Bradwell Aqueduct, Milton Keynes

A few miles further on it enters Milton Keynes at the outskirts of Bletchley at Fenny Stratford Lock, which is unusual in lowering the level by only 12 inches (30 cm). The next stretch of 11 miles (18 km) is on the level. A 21st century plan (see below) to dig a new arm from here to the Great Ouse at Bedford. North of the centre, it traverses the modern New Bradwell Aqueduct, the first on the Grand Union in over 100 years. Leaving Milton Keynes at Wolverton, the canal runs on a high embankment before passing over the Great Ouse at Cosgrove "Iron Trunk" aqueduct.

Stoke Bruerne top lock
Top lock at Stoke Bruerne

After rising through Cosgrove Lock, (and passing the start of the abandoned Buckingham Arm) another long level section brings the canal to the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight of seven locks. At the top of this flight is the Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum followed shortly by Blisworth Tunnel, at 3,056 yards (2,794 m) one of the longest of UK canals.

Grand Union Canal Crick Wharf 4
Crick Wharf, Northamptonshire

Once clear of the tunnel, the canal passes Blisworth village and reaches Gayton Junction where the Northampton Arm branches off to the east. This arm has 17 narrow locks as it descends to join the navigable River Nene (see below). The long level stretch continues past several villages including Nether Heyford and Weedon Bec and is very rural in character.

At Whilton, the canal reaches the bottom of the Buckby flight of seven locks which raise it to Braunston summit the village of which parish is 5 miles (8.0 km) away. Beyond the top lock is Norton Junction where the Leicester line (not strictly a branch) heads off north. A few miles further on the canal passes through the 2040-yard (1865-m) Braunston Tunnel, which pierces a low range of hills that are part of the Northamptonshire uplands.

The canal then drops down the Braunston flight of six locks until it reaches Braunston Junction having covered just over 93 miles (150 km).

The Birmingham "main line"

At Braunston Junction, the Oxford Canal diverges north and south. The north section leads to Rugby and Coventry; the southward fork carries both the Oxford Canal and the Grand Union for 5 miles (8.0 km) to Napton Junction. Here, the Grand Union heads north towards Birmingham, while the Oxford Canal veers south towards Banbury and Oxford.

Shortly after Napton Junction, the Grand Union reaches three locks at Calcutt, which begin the descent to the Warwickshire River Avon. After a 3-mile (5-km) level, the canal descends into the valley of the River Leam by the Stockton flight of 10 locks (often known as 'the Itchington Ten'). Above the eighth lock down the flight, a short arm (now used as pleasure craft moorings) used to serve Southam cement works.

From the bottom of the locks, a 3-mile (5-km) level leads to the four Bascote locks. The top two form a 'riser' or staircase. Six more interspersed locks lead to Radford, after which a 5-mile (8-km) level takes the canal through Leamington Spa to Warwick. Between these two towns, the canal crosses the River Avon and the former Great Western Railway on aqueducts.

At Warwick, the canal rises by two locks to Budbrooke Junction (formerly the junction with the then-independent Warwick and Birmingham Canal). To the left is the restored Saltisford Canal Arm, a short stretch that used to run under the railway to the original canal basin complex and terminus of the Warwick and Birmingham Canal – the basin was filled-in in the 1970s. The canal used to serve the oldest gas works in the world and several unusual hexagonal buildings remain opposite Sainsbury's. After half a mile the mainline reaches the bottom of the Hatton flight of 21 locks that lift the canal up out of the Avon Valley. The first 10 locks are spaced out but from the middle lock the flight is tightly spaced.

Three miles (5 km) from Hatton Top Lock the canal passes through Shrewley Tunnel, with its separate horse tunnel, and then passes Rowington village to Kingswood Junction where a short spur connects with the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Another 3 miles (4.8 km) lead to the Knowle flight of five locks. Finally, an 11-mile (18-km) level takes the canal through Elmdon Heath, Solihull, Acocks Green and Tyseley to the heart of Birmingham.

The main line may be considered to terminate at Bordesley Junction. From here, there are two routes, both part of the Grand Union Canal. The original line of the Warwick and Birmingham Canal leads to the Digbeth Branch Canal of the Birmingham Canal Navigations at the Warwick Bar, while the later line of the Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal leads to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal (and Tame Valley Canal) at Salford Junction, which in turn has connections to the Coventry Canal and the Trent and Mersey Canal.

The Leicester Line

Grand Union Canal - Saddington Tunnel - geograph.org.uk - 2300236
Saddington Tunnel on the Leicester Line.

Formed by amalgamations of once-independent canals, the 'Leicester Line' of the Grand Union Canal runs north from Norton Junction for about 35 miles (56 km) until it reaches Leicester, where it joins the River Soar to provide a link to the River Trent and to the Trent and Mersey Canal. It includes tunnels south of Crick 1,528 yd (1,397 m) and north of Husbands Bosworth 1,166 yd (1,066 m) The village of Crick is home to a popular annual boat show.

The stretch of the canal that passes through the centre of Leicester is known as the 'Mile Straight' and is home to Leicester Rowing Club, a rowing and sculling club. The club hosts regattas on a stretch co-running with the Soar, typically held in mid-April by over 100 crews over a 770-yard (700 m) course.

Also on this section are the Foxton Locks and Watford Locks, both staircase locks. Beside Foxton locks is the site of a long-abandoned inclined plane boat lift. This was constructed as part of a project to create a wide-beam canal route to connect the northern and southern parts of the canal system, something which does not exist to this day. Funding to deal with the narrow locks at Watford was not forthcoming and the scheme was aborted. The canal north of Foxton Junction is wide-beam to Leicester and onwards. It was originally intended to build a canal at this width all the way to the River Nene at Northampton. However, that canal never went further than the basin at Market Harborough.

The Leicester Line continues along the River Soar Navigation, and reaches the River Trent at Soar Mouth, north of Ratcliffe-on-Soar.[5] It is possible to continue to the Trent and Mersey Canal, Coventry Canal and North Oxford Canal, to complete a circuit known as the Leicester Ring.[6]

Branches

Grand Union Canal Paddington Branch over North Circular
Paddington Branch crossing the North Circular Road

The Grand Union Canal has six main branches, usually termed 'arms'.

Paddington Arm or Branch

Five miles (8 km) from Brentford, the Paddington Arm runs circuitously on the flat to a lock and a junction with the Regent's Canal, the latter running north and east of Central London. The triangular basin formed by the junction is called Little Venice, Maida Vale. The Arm's final 500 m runs south-east to Paddington Basin.

Slough Arm

From Cowley Peachey, the Slough Arm runs 5 miles (8.0 km) to the west.

Wendover and Aylesbury Arms

From Marsworth, about 35 miles (56 km) by canal from Brentford, two arms diverge: one to Wendover (currently in-part navigable as being restored by the Wendover Arm Trust;[7]) the other descends through 16 narrow locks for 4 miles (6.4 km) to Aylesbury.

Northampton Arm

From Gayton Junction, about 60 miles (97 km) from Brentford, the Northampton Arm links with the River Nene.

Saltisford Canal Arm, Warwick

At Warwick the northern-most branch off of the Grand Union Canal (also known by regular users as the "GU"), the Saltisford Canal Arm begins. The restored arm is close to the centre of Warwick. It was originally the main line of the Warwick and Birmingham Canal, 1799, leading to the terminus and a basin with wharfs for timber. When the Warwick and Napton Canal opened, this bypassed channel remained as the town's wharf. The Saltisford Canal Trust have restored most of the surviving canal, 1990-2015, such as installing long lengths of sheet piling and restoring a warehouse in 2007. Its last 160 yards (150 m) were lost in the 1970s saving a disused road bridge that stands isolated in a car park. Warwick's narrowboat moorings are on the Arm by a public park partly in view of the Castle. Over 800 visiting narrowboats cruise to Warwick each year and moor on the arm.[8]

The Leicester Line has two modest arms of its own, see Grand Union Canal (old).

Current developments

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway
LocationBedfordshire
ProposerBedford and Milton Keynes Partnership[9]
Cost estimate£170 million

The Bedford and Milton Keynes Partnership (B&MK) plans to build a 16-mile (26 km) canal connecting the Grand Union at Milton Keynes to the River Great Ouse at Bedford at an estimated cost of £170 million.[10] The project is supported by British Waterways (and its successor, the Canal & River Trust), the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust, other waterways campaign groups, and also local councils.[11] The first element of the canal is an underpass under the A421, completed in 2009 and efforts are continuing to obtain funding to complete the scheme in 'bite-size chunks'.[9] The new waterway would create a new cruising ring connecting through from the Grand Union to the waterways of East Anglia which are beneficial to leisure cruising as boat hirers are able to take circular routes. The project was first discussed in 1810 when its promoters included Samuel Whitbread.[9]

From Milton Keynes, the canal is planned to pass beneath the M1 utilising an existing cattle creep, then cross over Brogborough Hill, and across the Marston Vale through to the River Great Ouse in Kempston.[12]

Buckingham Arm restoration

The Buckingham Arm once ran from Cosgrove, Northamptonshire to Buckingham. It was built as an arm of the Grand Junction Canal, in two separate phases, opening in 1800 and 1801. It was disused from 1932, but was not finally abandoned until 1964. It is now the subject of a restoration project.

Slough-Eton canal

The predecessor to the Canal and River Trust, British Waterways, received mild financial support indications from the two local authorities covering Slough and Eton, Berkshire to extend the Slough Arm to join the Thames, via any course i.e. covering a minimum 2 miles (3.2 km); the 2008-estimated cost was £30 million.[13] The trust confirmed in 2012 this remains a long-term objective, to be actioned when the economic conditions allow.[14]

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ "The Grand Union Canal Holiday Cruising Guide and Map". www.canaljunction.com.
  2. ^ The spellings Bull's Bridge and Bulls Bridge are both used.
  3. ^ Canalplan: Grand Union Canal (Leicester Section) Accessed 23 April 2012
  4. ^ Waterscape Boaters' Guide Accessed 23 April 2012
  5. ^ "Canalcuttings.com article on GUC". Archived from the original on 20 October 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  6. ^ The Grand Union Canal, Regents Canal, River Lee and River Stort canaljunction.com Accessed 23 April 2012
  7. ^ "Wendover Arm Trust". Wendover Arm Trust.
  8. ^ "Saltisford Canal Trust".
  9. ^ a b c "B&MK Waterway Trust".
  10. ^ "Route chosen for £150m link canal". BBC News. 28 February 2003.
  11. ^ Brown, Paul (28 February 2003). "First British canal for 100 years announced". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "The Route | B&MK Waterway Trust". B-mkwaterway.org.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  13. ^ "Plan to link canal with Thames". Sloughobserver.co.uk. 1 November 2008. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Activists back canal link plan". Sloughobserver.co.uk. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2013.

External links

Coordinates: 52°03′03″N 0°44′02″W / 52.05076°N 0.73400°W

Batchworth

Batchworth was once a hamlet and is now a civil parish and part of Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire. Batchworth Parish Council was created in 2017 consisting of two Three Rivers District Council wards, namely, Rickmansworth Town and Moor Park & Eastbury. The first election was on 4 May 2017. There are eight councillors; four in each ward.

The Grand Union Canal passes through Batchworth. The Batchworth Canal Centre is alongside the Grand Union lock, near the junction of the A404 and A4145 roads. This is the home of the Rickmansworth Waterways Trust who run a visitors centre, a working heritage boat, a small outdoor cafe and co-ordination of the annual Rickmansworth Canal Festival.The future of the historic cotton mill is uncertain following its need of urgent repairs.Batchworth Sea Scouts have their headquarters alongside the canal. The Batchworth Dragons dragon boat club were born out of the scout group and competes at a national and international level. Batchworth Lake, created by the extraction of gravel for the original Wembley Stadium, is used for water skiing and forms part of Rickmansworth Aquadrome.

Batchworth Heath is four hectares (ten acres) of designated common land around the junction of Batchworth Heath Hill, Batchworth Lane and White Hill, owned and managed by Three Rivers District Council. The habitat is heathland with an ancient pond and rich wildlife. Since July 2015 the site has been listed by Natural England as a Local Nature Reserve, but according to Three Rivers Council this is an error and they have asked Natural England to remove it from the list.

Boston Manor Park

Boston Manor Park is a large public park in the London Borough of Hounslow. A combination of woodland and open space, with an area adjoining the Grand Union Canal, it was created in 1924 from part of the historic estate of the 17th-century stately home Boston Manor.

Brogborough

Brogborough is a village and civil parish in the Central Bedfordshire district of Bedfordshire, England, by junction 13 of the M1 motorway. According to the 2001, census it had a population of 343, reducing to 302 at the 2011 Census. The village is about 8 miles (13 km) east of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.

Colne Valley Regional Park

The Colne Valley Regional Park is a 27,500 acre (43 square mile) area of parks, green spaces and reservoirs alongside the often multi-channel River Colne and parallel Grand Union Canal, mainly in Buckinghamshire, with parts in the London Borough of Hillingdon, Berkshire and Hertfordshire, and a small area in Surrey.

Cooks Wharf

Cooks Wharf is a hamlet in the parish of Cheddington, in Buckinghamshire, England. It is located where the main road into Cheddington from Pitstone crosses the Grand Union Canal. At the 2011 Census the population of the area was included in the civil parish of Marsworth.

Apples from the surrounding orchards were loaded onto the narrowboats here to travel down the canal to London.

Denham Country Park

Denham Country Park is a 69-acre public park and Local Nature Reserve in Buckinghamshire and the London Borough of Hillingdon. It is part of the 42 square mile Colne Valley Regional Park, and the Colne Valley Park Visitor Centre and cafe is located in Denham Country Park.

The Colne and Misbourne rivers pass through the park and the Grand Union Canal forms its eastern boundary. It has a variety of wildlife, including herons, kingfishers, damselflies and dragonflies.There is access from Denham Court Drive and the canal towpath.

Denham Lock Wood

Denham Lock Wood is a 6.3-hectare (16-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) next to the Grand Union Canal, and near Denham in the London Borough of Hillingdon. It was notified in 1986 and is managed by the London Wildlife Trust on behalf of Hillingdon Council. It lies within the Colne Valley Regional Park.It is a poorly drained wet woodland and fen site which is skirted by the Frays River. The main trees are alder and crack willow in the wetter areas, and elsewhere oak and ash with a shrub layer of hazel. In winter wildfowl are visible and in spring many flower species. Invertebrates include red cardinal beetles, banded demoiselles and the rare and protected Desmoulin's whorl snail. The balsam carpet moth was added to the list of British species when it was found at the Wood in 1955, and it is only known at one other site in Britain.Access is by a footbridge across Frays River from Frays Farm Meadows, which is also an SSSI managed by the London Wildlife Trust, south of the Wood. Access to the Meadows is by a stile on the east side of the Grand Union Canal at Denham Lock.

Grafton Regis Meadow

Grafton Regis Meadow is a 2 hectare nature reserve east of Grafton Regis in Northamptonshire. It is managed by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.This is a traditionally managed hay meadow on the bank of the Grand Union Canal. Birds visiting the site include curlews, lapwings, long-tailed tits, bullfinches, yellowhammers and wrens.There is no public access to the site.

Leighton Buzzard

Leighton Buzzard ( LAY-tən BUZ-ərd) is a town in Bedfordshire, England, near the Chiltern Hills and lying between Luton and Milton Keynes. It adjoins Linslade and the name Leighton Linslade is sometimes used to refer to the combination of the two towns; parts of this article also apply to Linslade as well as Leedon. For local government purposes, the town is part of the Central Bedfordshire district and is administered jointly with Linslade as the civil parish of Leighton-Linslade.The town is home to the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway, a narrow gauge heritage railway, one of England's longest and oldest narrow-gauge lines, with an extensive collection of locomotives and rolling stock. The Great Train Robbery happened at Bridego Bridge just outside Leighton Buzzard. The Grand Union Canal is another feature of the town, as is All Saints' Church, an Early English parish church dating from 1277. The church is the starting point for the annual Wilkes Walk, described as "a curious procession of the church choir, clergy, and churchwardens across town to the alms houses in North Street."

List of canal tunnels in the United Kingdom

This is a list of canal tunnels in the United Kingdom.

Nash Mills

Nash Mills is a civil parish within Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum Borough Council on the northern side of the Grand Union Canal, formerly the River Gade, and in the southernmost corner of Hemel Hempstead. There is evidence of a mill in this location since the 11th century and the row of 16th century mill cottages still remain. John Dickinson established a number of papermaking mills in the area in the 19th century (Nash Mill).

Part of its area was reassigned in the 1980s from Three Rivers District Council & Abbots Langley Civil Parish. The borough council ward extends beyond the parish boundary.

National Cycle Route 6

National Cycle Route 6 (or NCR 6) is a route of the National Cycle Network, running from London to the Lake District.

Oxford Canal

The Oxford Canal is a 78-mile (126 km) narrow canal in central England linking Oxford with Bedworth (between Coventry and Nuneaton on the Coventry Canal) via Banbury and Rugby. Completed in 1790, it connects to the River Thames at Oxford and is integrated with the Grand Union Canal — combined for 5 miles close to the villages of Braunston and Napton-on-the-Hill, a canal which soon after construction superseded much of its traffic.

The canal was for approximately 15 years the main canal artery of trade between the Midlands and London; it retained importance in its local county economies and that of Berkshire. Today the canal is frequently used in weekend and holiday narrowboat pleasure boating.

The Oxford Canal traverses Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and east Warwickshire through broad, shallow valleys and lightly rolling hills; resembling the bulk of the Grand Union Canal and its branches, much of the landscape is similar to the Llangollen and Lancaster canals. It has frequent wharfs and public houses, particularly if including the parts of the Grand Union Canal immediately adjoining. North of about a third of its distance, namely from Napton, the canal travelling northeast then northwest forms part of the Warwickshire ring. In its south extreme it forms a waterways circuit within Oxford known as the Four Rivers.

Queens Park, Aylesbury

Queens Park is a late Victorian and early Edwardian area of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, England. It was one of the first developments outside the historic centre of the town, lying just south of the Aylesbury branch of the Grand Union Canal. Queens Park is mainly made up of terraced cottages with the occasional later semi-detached or detached property. Non-residential property is limited to the Queens Park Centre, a local arts and crafts venue, and the Millwrights public house.

Bordering Queens Park to the south is the hamlet of Walton.

Regent's Canal

Regent's Canal is a canal across an area just north of central London, England. It provides a link from the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal, 500 m north-west of Paddington Basin in the west, to the Limehouse Basin and the River Thames in east London. The canal is 13.8 kilometres (8.6 miles) long.

River Colne, Hertfordshire

The Colne is a river in England which is a tributary of the River Thames. Just over half its course is in south Hertfordshire. Downstream, the Colne is the boundary between Buckinghamshire (specifically the South Bucks district) and London (specifically the London Borough of Hillingdon) and finally between corners of Berkshire and Surrey. On leaving Hertfordshire, the watercourse splits off into several separate branches, a few of which rejoin it, and its main branch flows into the River Thames on the reach above Penton Hook Lock at Staines-upon-Thames.

Two further, artificial distributaries were constructed in the 1600-1750 period for aesthetic reasons for Hampton Court and for Syon Park which have been kept maintained, flowing through several London districts. Although their main purpose was not drinking water, these artificial streams can be likened to the New River in scale and in date. Crossing its route, viaducts and canals, such as the Grand Union Canal, have been recognised for pioneering engineering during the Industrial Revolution.

Digging for gravel and clay along its lower course south of Rickmansworth has created a long belt of pits which have flooded to become lakes. Many of these are important habitats for wildlife and protected as nature reserves. The river, meadows and many once gravel-producing lakes form the Colne Valley regional park in total covering 43 square miles (110 km2).

River Soar

The River Soar () is a major tributary of the River Trent in the English East Midlands and is the principal river of Leicestershire. The source of the river is midway between Hinckley and Lutterworth. The river then flows north through Leicester, where it is joined by the Grand Union Canal. Continuing on through the Leicestershire Soar Valley, it passes Loughborough and Kegworth until it reaches the Trent at the county boundary. In the 18th century, the Soar was made navigable, initially between Loughborough and the Trent, and then through to Leicester. It was not until the early 19th century that it was linked by the Grand Union Canal to the wider network to the south and to London.

Tyseley

Tyseley is a district in the southern half of the city of Birmingham, England, near the Coventry Road and the districts of Acocks Green, Small Heath and Yardley. It is located near the Grand Union Canal.

Warwickshire ring

The Warwickshire ring is a connected series of canals forming a circuit around the West Midlands area of England. The ring is formed from the Coventry Canal, the Oxford Canal, the Grand Union Canal, the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. It is a popular route with tourists due to its circular route and mixture of urban and rural landscapes.

The ring totals 106 miles and has 115 locks, although there are two alternative routes through the southern part of Birmingham - from Kingswood Junction, one route follows the Grand Union Canal to Salford Junction, where it joins the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, and the other follows the Stratford Canal (north) and Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham. The latter route is slightly longer and has more locks, but many consider it to be more scenic and interesting.

Grand Union Canal
Birmingham, Warwick Bar
Salford Junction
Birmingham & Warwick Jct branch
Digbeth branch
Bordesley Junction
Oxford Canal
Napton Junction
Oxford Canal
Braunston Junction
Old Grand Union Canal
Norton Junction (Leicester Line)
River Nene
Gayton Junction
Northampton Arm
Buckingham Arm
Cosgrove Junction
Buckingham Basin
Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway?
Aylesbury Basin
Aylesbury Arm
Marsworth Junction
Wendover Arm
Bulbourne Junction
Wendover Basin
Slough Basin
Slough Arm
Cowley Peachey Junction
Bull's Bridge Junction
Brentford Arm/
Paddington Arm
south end of canal
The Regent's Canal
Paddington Basin
Syon Park
The Tideway (Thames) at Brentford
? - proposed
Grand Union Canal - Leicester Line
River Soar Navigation to
Loughborough and River Trent
Lakeside Marina
Watermead Way Bridge
Belgrave Lock
Abbey Park
Evans Weir
Soar Lane Bridge
West Bridge, Leicester
Leicester moorings
Upperton Road Arm (dis)
Leicester City Football Club
St Mary's Mills
Aylestone Road Arm
Great Central Railway (cycle path)
Junction of River Soar Navigation
King's Lock & Café
Kilby Bridge
Saddington Tunnel (880 yd)
Debdale Wharf & Marina
GU Market Harborough Arm
Foxton Locks (10) & Inclined Plane
Market Harborough Basin
summit
Husbands Bosworth Tunnel (1166 yd)
Welford Junction
Welford basin
Crick Marina
Crick Tunnel (1528 yd)
summit
Watford Locks (7)
Norton Junction
Grand Union Canal main line
† Diagram not to scale. Selected features.[3][4]
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