Tuesday 29 August 2023


Today's Canals : Paddington Arm, Grand Union Main Line, Slough Arm

Today was scheduled to complete the re-tracing of our route back to High Line. Because of the car loading logistics at the boatyard we aimed to moor as close to them as possible just before reaching there. We will then be able to unload when we arrive and only move the boat down to its mooring (which is likely to be quite a walk again) as the last thing before leaving.

Not long after setting off we spotted this landmark - a pseudo lighthouse. With a business icon like that, one might expect quite a fashionable business.

Alas, no - it is a self storage unit in an anonymous shed!

From setting off we could see a thin film on the water surface and an oily smell. This gradually grew worse as we approached Southall where we stopped for the waterpoint - a load of washing is planned to reduce the amount of clothes needed to be taken home. You can just about make out the pollution is this photo with the edge of where we disturbed it.

This photo, taken as we were leaving (hoping that the pollution had not contaminated the tap water!) does include a lady who was a volunteer from a swan charity. She had come here to check on the swans. There were only two to be seen, looking a bit the worse for the oil, although normally rather more hang around here. She was preparing her equipment although on her own, we could be see how much she could do but she was in contact with her organisation and, hopefully, will also be reporting to the Environment Agency.

We commented on the former Southall Gas Works site on the way into London. In the past it has not been a pretty sight, with blank ply fencing blocking any view of the endless rows of parked cars. All now gone and at least the perimeter is now a good fence.

We missed taking a better view of the first stage of development (we were too busy checking on the arrival rate of planes into Heathrow after yesterday's  major disruption to Air Traffic Control).

However, passing under the new bridge carrying an access road, we did discover that the site is now called The Green Quarter. Looking at its web site it is clear that this will be a major development, mostly housing apartments, with some low rise houses.

We also were able to download a brochure from 2018 showing the design before any work had actually started. Eventually a large triangular plot will extend from near to Southall station to this bridge. Somewhat cheekily, they have included a circular tower that seems inspired (if that is the right description) by the now demolished gas holder.

At Bulls Bridge junction, the former canal building (whose purpose we cannot discover) has now been renovated and seems to be occupied even though it is surrounded by the most inhospitable industrial landscape!

Just around the corner a new large building is being constructed. As far as we can see, this is yet another very large data centre. The internet mat well be an invaluable part of our contemporary society but it does involve creating some very nondescript architecture. We think this unit replaces a former FedEx equally bland logistics centre.

A little later we watched as this leviathan made its way slowly towards us - under the next bridge it seemed to take up the whole width of the canal. As there were also some moored boats we pulled and waited for it to pass. Not sure what the main vessel is/was but it did look as if at one time it was converted from a barge to living space.

We moored outside Tesco in Yiewsley - Christine asked Mike to go and get a couple of small items whilst she finished off cleaning the floor throughout the boat. We also had lunch before moving on.

Later we turned onto the Slough Arm and slowly made our way down to moor just a short distance before the boatyard. We were relieved to find somewhere as most of the canal so far had dense and wide reed banks making it impossible for a boat to get anywhere near enough to moor, even with our new extra long gangplank. (Mike finished the plank with a hole at either end to accommodate a mooring spike which we have often seen used to prevent the plank being dumped into the water by a speeding boat coming by) In the end we found a reasonable piece of bank and so no plank was needed, rather to Christine's disappointment!

7.2 Miles - 0 Locks

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