Grand Union: Weedon to Braunston


My mum and I are walking parts of the Grand Union Canal. On 31 July 2010, we walked a section from Weedon to Braunston, which we decided would have to be the last.

Canal from Weedon

A bus from Northampton took us back to Weedon; we walked along the high street to the canal and set off. To begin with, the canal curved between the railway line and the busy A5, which is called 'Roman Road' (because it was).

Works opposite with asbestos/corrugated steel roof. Looks knackered but I think this is probably still in use.
1/500 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 52°14′5″N 1°4′45″W
Barge on the other side of the canal.
1/180 at f8, 179mm, ISO200 52°14′19″N 1°4′59″W

The A5 crossed the canal and disappeared west, but not to worry, because the major-road-vacancy was soon filled by the M1 motorway which drew close to the east.

And there were lots of pretty butterflies.
1/350 at f8, 194mm, ISO200 52°15′52″N 1°5′31″W

Eventually the railway crossed over to join the motorway as they continued north, while the canal turned sharp west.

Gate to canal from a large house's walled garden.
1/180 at f8, 55mm, ISO200 52°17′0″N 1°6′12″W
Three ducks.
1/750 at f6.7, 55mm, ISO800 52°17′2″N 1°6′17″W

A canal branch led off to the north (heading for Leicester); we crossed over it and continued.

Just in case you didn't get the idea that we were in the middle of nowhere, here's a picture of it.
1/500 at f8, 10mm, ISO200 52°17′0″N 1°7′25″W

Braunston Tunnel (above)

Shortly we reached the tunnel. It's nearly 2km long, and like virtually all canal tunnels, doesn't have a towpath.

Nor does it have canoeists, apparently.
1/250 at f5.6, 250mm, ISO400 52°16′52″N 1°9′27″W

Since we couldn't actually walk through the tunnel we had to go over the hill, along a footpath which started off overgrown with nettles. We both got stung, but not badly; after a bit it turned into a well-maintained farm track.

Farmland and gas pipeline markers.
1/1000 at f8, 179mm, ISO200 52°16′56″N 1°9′51″W


When we reached the opposite tunnel entrance, we just carried on along the canal, to and through Braunston town.

Sign on what used to be a lock-keeper's cottage and was now a house and shop. Willing to bet they don't sell those boots, though. Maybe they sell old signs.
1/350 at f8, 96mm, ISO200 52°17′20″N 1°12′8″W
Pumphouse in Braunston. Chimney reads 'Grand Junction Canal 1897'.
1/350 at f8, 17mm, ISO200 52°17′20″N 1°12′15″W

Braunston has several marinas and there was plenty of boat traffic. We saw a ridiculous number of boats moving on the canal during the walk (over 50, which made it our record).

My brother is called Joss! Well, actually he isn't, but for some reason I call him that.
1/350 at f8, 250mm, ISO200 52°17′18″N 1°12′26″W
Across the canal in Braunston. It's a rusty, knackered, heavily modified (wtf) old car - after some research, I think it's probably a Triumph.
1/750 at f8, 171mm, ISO200 52°17′21″N 1°13′8″W

We walked the length of the canal in Braunston, up to the junction where it joines the Oxford Canal and runs north to Birmingham. We aren't going to follow it; the travel distance to get to each section is too long to reach it for a day's walk, so this is as far as we get.

Canal junction (largest I've seen on this canal; there must've been a lot of traffic for them to bother making a triangle junction like this).
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One of the paired bridges.
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Both bridges. Built at Horseley Iron Works - wonder if the maker was highlighted like that in the original paint job?
1/250 at f8, 16mm, ISO200 52°17′22″N 1°13′13″W

After that we crossed over into the town itself and had a look around.

Braunston Church.
1/180 at f8, 10mm, ISO200 52°17′26″N 1°12′51″W
The Methodist Church has seen better days.
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Close-up of the round window.
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Close-up of the square windows. This is getting a bit Playschool...
1/750 at f8, 55mm, ISO200 52°17′26″N 1°12′36″W

Back to Daventry

Rather than wait for a dubious local bus in Braunston, we decided to walk back into Daventry, retracing our steps.

Looking into the Braunston-end tunnel entrance; reflection of the light in (not at the end of) the tunnel.
1/250 at f8, 90mm, ISO200 52°17′5″N 1°11′7″W
Close up of the lights. I wasn't really able to figure this out, but I think these are lights in the tunnel rather than on a boat. Apparently the tunnel makes a slight curve at one point where they judged it wrong; maybe there are lights at that point.
1/45 at f8, 250mm, ISO200 52°17′4″N 1°11′7″W
Sunlight in the tunnel entrance.
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Hay-bales from the hill above the tunnel. Fierce clouds.
1/1000 at f8, 15mm, ISO200 52°16′58″N 1°9′58″W


A couple of buses eventually took us back into Northampton where we could get the train.

Time for one more picture of the lift tower.
1/250 at f8, 250mm, ISO200 52°14′18″N 0°54′17″W

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.