Denham to Watford


My mum and I are walking parts of the Grand Union Canal. On 24 May 2008, we walked a section from Denham station to Watford Junction station. Dad joined us too.

I arrived (late; at two points I ran for a train and saw it pull away) and had to make my way back through Denham village without a map; we were going to meet at the country park visitor's centre. I managed to remember the route from a month ago and met my parents, who by now were all caked up and ready to go.

The canal

From there it didn't take long to get to the canal, and for this walk we stayed by the canal almost the whole way.

Underneath a typical canal bridge.
1/250 at f8, 10mm, ISO200
A rail bridge which crossed the canal at great height. I liked the shape of the arch.
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Part of a boat.
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At one point there was a rather strange marina opposite. It gave the impression that the canal had just randomly flooded a large adjoining area; there wasn't an entrance exactly, more a series of places where the water ran over the boundary.

Here's a heron in one of those non-entrances. (What's wrong with me? I'm taking wildlife pictures?! Don't worry, there's a derelict building later.) There's actually another heron in a later picture, see if you can spot it.
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An old metal pedestrian bridge ran across the canal at one point, but I guess it led to private property; it had been thoroughly blocked by a rough assortment of metal grids, in addition to a tangle of undergrowth. We did climb up onto it anyway, just to see.

Edge of that barricade, complete with picturesque twist of rusted iron.
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Waterways led off the canal at various points, none of them passable to boats.

In this case (an overflow to the Colne, I think) because there was a weir. No, it wasn't really that dark, but I exposed for the sunlit white-water, and I like the contrast.
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And in this case because it's private property. Hmmm. That sign was continuously twisting around in the flow, I took loads of shots to get this one.
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We reached Copper Mill Lock, so called because there's an old copper mill opposite. They used to take in copper on the canal and, er, mill it into copper sheets or whatever. It's a very long brick building that has, of course, now been converted into housing or offices. Before the lock, the millstream from an older mill flows fast into the canal; a horde of canoeists were going around a slalom course here.

Bridge carrying pipes across the canal to a large sewage works.
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An bridge ran across an inlet on our side of the canal, in addition to the bridge that carried the towpath. Spiderwebs on this structure were very prominent, covered in some kind of fluff.

Both bridges.
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Cobwebs on a pipe.
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Cobweb on the side of the structure, blowing in the wind.
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Further on, a traditional canal bridge with pipe bridge in front.
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We then came upon the most surprising sight: the steel-frame skeleton of a large building opposite, with a giant stuffed-toy monkey hanging from one of its upper beams. I don't know what the monkey did to deserve that! I tried Google but wasn't sure what to search on. (It's here - you can just see it over the water.)

Here it is.
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Edge of building. An elderly couple stopped me after I took this photo to ask if I'd seen anything special. I said 'depends if you count rusting beams'. They thought there was a bird up there or something.
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There were lots of moorings along the canal for most of the rest of the way. Actually, we'd seen a fair few boats moving, too; the final count of that was somewhere above 20. Probably not as many as we'd have seen when it was a working canal, although at that point we wouldn't have been officially allowed on the towpath as it was closed to the public, and I wouldn't have been able to take pictures because photography hadn't been invented (ok not quite but). You win some, you lose some.

A pair of traditional narrow boats.
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Interesting still-life arrangement by the window of a somehat decaying houseboat.
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Boat needs paint, badly.
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Birdcage (okay, probably a lamp cage) under painted side-arch of a large bridge.
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Purple and yellow boat. Good idea? Bad idea? You decide.
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The rest of the way into Watford featured several depressing housing estates beside the canal, presumably built on old industrial land.

By one of those housing estates, the canalside path had a whole row of these 'danger: deep water' signs. All except one had been bent over into the water. (Incidentally, I don't believe it; canals are not generally deep.)
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Rail bridge. This picture isn't blurred, but they've somehow managed to create a way to paint the bridge so it looks like it is. (Really.)
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Presumably an original bridge. It's painted now, but those grooves in the metal were worn deep by thousands of horse-pulled towropes.
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And that's it: we walked into Watford through a nice, large park with a funfair (which we didn't visit) and to the station.

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.