I woke up at 5.30 after nearly 7 hours in the tent, slept better than I had hoped but Fitbit told me a different story of being awake 3 times for 12 mins and restless 14 times for 35 mins 🙁 A perfect night for camping though.
I was on my way just after 6am weirdly I could see someone else was camping 100 yards away, visible from the Grand Union Canal towpath. My phone beeped, from the IFTTT recipe, at 08.12 to say I had already walked 11,126 steps. The earliest I have ever achieved that yet 🙂
A great thing about starting so early is that everyone you meet is so friendly, early risers are a really cheery bunch 🙂 I tried to get some breakfast at Hunton Bridge but the only place open was the newsagents, I plodded on and felt very smug walking under the M25 with it’s jams & noise, eventually at 8.30 I managed to find a cooked good breakfast at Sainsbury’s in Hemel Hempstead – interesting how pubs and cafes don’t seem to be open until Noon 🙁
You get a real feeling of going “Up North” as the locks steadily climb up the Chiltern Hills to the highest point at Tring. The canal is more like a river with water spilling over the top of the lock gates and in fact at Berkhamstead they call it a port.
At Tring i spied on the map Pendley Grange with it’s swimming pool and luxurious offering! Calling them up they had a room cheaper than the boring place in Watford! So I decided to splurge, never having slept in a tent on consecutive nights, so I booked the room and got the dinner there too. All very grand except the bathroom was rather tired looking with the obligatory loose shower 🙁
According to Strava I walked 17.3 miles and burnt 2,809 cals , Fitbit made it 17.93 miles from 38,831 steps burning 5,268 cals. Moves made it 33,019 steps 17.6 miles and 1,553 cals. So a pretty wide variation in the calorie counts. But still a very pleasant day’s walking in just about ideal conditions, although I picked up a small blister on the outside of my right heel 🙁
Nephew Phillip kindly dropped me back outside The Black Horse in Greenford at 9.30am ready for the first full day of walking along The Grand Union canal. Last night he cleaned up his 24 or so entries in my address book 🙂 and maybe found out why his son Marcus embeds himself into my Google photo albums wherever I am in the world 🙂
It was a lovely day and as always canals offer fascinating glimpses into town life, past Sotheby’s modern storage depot on an industrial estate to the Mohammedi Park Masjid Complex but then I had to resort to peering over the vast fence that stretched for miles by using Google Earth, t to find out it’s an Heathrow car park! Maybe I will have to carry a drone in future 🙂
At Bulls Bridge you hit the main Grand Union canal and do an abrupt right turn, must have been hard for the horses towing the barges! How did they manage not to muddle up all the towing lines at junctions like this?
The canal is a great mixture of industrial complexes where I play the guessing game and modern flats which have been built on derelict sites. Interestingly how the canal role has changed! now its an asset so the flats face the canal whereas industrial places always have huge fences shielding them from the canal.
The canal then gets more rural and is totally fascinating that it is so rural and you are totally unaware of cars etc. and only the noise of trains.
At Rickmansworth I thought it would be good to start looking for a b&b, alas the owners of such places can’t be bothered to answer their phones 🙁 booking.com could only find expensive places miles away. It was a pleasant evening so I kept walking, in the knowledge I was carrying a tent. Just before Watford i met a freindly walker out breaking his new shoes in. He told me of a great wild camping place near the Watford Rugby pitches so I was happy. I dropped off the canal to try eating at The Harvestor PH – nightmare place so I walked over to the Rising Sun and had my fish & chips there, the adjacent Premier Inn wanted £125 for a room 🙁 I politely declined and rejoined the towpath. I met the same guy returning from his walk and he gave me precise directions. I found the spot. Watford Rugby Club were still practising but I snook into a corner pitched the tent and had a great nights sleep for £0
Finally, halfway through the year, the apartment sale is finally totally complete and I’m able to start travelling again albeit currently restricted to shanks pony as having 1/3 of my prostate removed in the HoLEP operation 3 weeks ago makes it inadvisable to do long bumpy bike rides for a while. I decided to stick locally as well until all the pain when I pee has gone away.
The Grand Union Canal walk from Central London seems a good idea as it isn’t to strenuous but long enough to take a week or so. I still haven’t decided whether to go to Birmingham or take the branch to Nottingham.
Today was a late start as I first went swimming at Jesus Green and then posting my old thermostat that I sold on ebay. So I finally arrived at Kings Cross at 2.30pm.
It was an interesting walk along Regent’s Canal to Little Venice and then along the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union to Alperton finishing today at the demolished Hovis bread factory. Very pleasant except for the constant stream of cyclists bombing along 🙂
My nephew Phillip is kindly putting up with me for tonight, although a first for me was navigating across three bus routes to reach his flat. I ended up getting the busmapper app as the fellow passengers were too friendly bombarding me with all the options. Weird at 67 my first attempt at being on the buses!
Tomorrow it looks like a huge loop and heading south for 5 or so miles to avoid the hills at Harrow.
According to Strava I did 13.6 miles in just under 4 hours. The pictures of the day are here
Sally and I decided that it was about time we gave the two wheels a rest and give the Scarpa boots & Leki poles an airing 🙂 Sally’s criteria was it had to be warm and hilly! Since Mr T would only allow her two weeks of and it was November we came up with the Canary islands, particularly Tenerife and La Gomera. So of we flew with Easyjet from Gatwick. Only to discover on arrival that Ryanair passengers from Stansted were collecting their baggage in the airport 🙁
A quick taxi ride (€30) and we were at the docks and straight on the awaiting ship (€56 each way) making it a smooth passage to our apartment in San Sebastian booked a couple of weeks ago on booking.com. We booked the rest of the accommodation as we went, invariably the night before we arrived (Yep, I’m that organised).
The walking & weather were excellent every day with some days outstanding like the walk down the Masca Valley & Las Poyatas to El Cedro (here is a cool site with trail lists)
Here is a table of all our walks with links to the GPS/GPX tracks we did and my photographs:-
I can recommend the island for walking & don’t be put of by the horrors of Los Cristianos / Playa de Las Americas ( where I ended up renting a car to make a fast escape) & Los Gigantes. The beaches behind the airport are excellent & quiet. The local bus service is also good although the first buses don’t leave until 10am from San Sebastian.
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