Day 19: the Big Smoke

June 30th, 2010

I’m in Little Venice in London tonight, a stone’s throw from Paddington Station. Chris (different one from at the weekend!) and I had a surprisingly pleasant cruise here from Denham. We did four locks early on – in fact, we had to queue it was so busy – and stopped at Denham Yacht Centre for diesel fuel, a gas cylinder, and a pump out. In fact I also acquired 50m of stout polyprop rope to go with the anchor (needed for going on the Tidal Thames on Saturday) and a lifejacket (ditto).
The bit around Denham and Uxbridge still feels relatively rural – but once we turned off the Grand Union main line at Bull’s Bridge to head towards Paddington, I was expecting things to get urban more quickly. I was surprised, actually – the canal forms a green corridor through Southall, Northolt and Alperton, with quite a lot of smart waterside development. This whole route is full of appetising smells, too – baking bread, cooking curry, all sorts. Beyond Alperton it does get a bit more industrial, but it’s nothing like the Aston Canal or even the canals around Manchester. Once you pass Kensal Green, the western suburbs open up to the canal and you see more people on the towpath. Suddenly we came around under a bridge and out into Little Venice. My plan was to go down to Paddington Basin and try and moor up. It was full to bursting – it looks like some construction work has reduced the number of boat spaces – but I was surprised that all the visitor moorings around this area were 7 or 14 days – no 24 or 48 hour spots, despite being a very popular location! In the end I’ve double-moored in an area where double-mooring is permitted, but I’m blocking two smaller boats in. Oh well, I can move if needs be.
Tomorrow is a day of thesis-ing, and then on Friday we’re off along the Regents Canal to Limehouse. Beyond that is the Thames!

Day 19: Widewater Lock (Denham Station) to Little Venice, 21 miles and 4 locks.
Total so far: 206 miles, 129 locks.

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