London Loop Walk 14:
Uxbridge to Woodcock Hill, Harefield

3 September 2006

Today Stephen did the fourteenth of his  London Loop walks, this time with Henry for company, as George is still recovering from his injured foot from last week's walk.

We begin the walk by revisiting Uxbridge lock, conclusion of last week's walk.

Soon afterwards we reach the first milepost of the walk, showing it is 81 miles to the northern end of the Grand Junction Canal at Braunston, where it meets the Oxford Canal. The Grand Junction Canal was built from Brentford on the Thames to Braunston between 1793 and 1805.

Here the River Colne comes in from the left to merge with the canal.

Reaching Denham Deep Lock, we find narrowboats Angel and Aldgate. Both were built in 1936 by Harland & Wolff Ltd in Woolwich

Narrowboats Angel and Aldgate

Looking back at Denham Deep Lock, with the tearooms to the right. Having brought our own refreshments, we stopped by the lock for a while and watched the world go by. There were lots of people coming and going to the tearooms.

The lock gains its "deep" name because it is the deepest, at about 11 feet, on the Grand Union Canal.

Immediately above the lock is this aqueduct over Fray's River which we saw on the previous walk - it is an artificial loop of the River Colne, created to supply water to power six flour mills.

We then reach the first of many lakes formed from old gravel workings which line the Colne valley

A high mound of spoil peeping above the trees

The early-1900s viaduct carrying the Great Western and Great Central Joint Line (now known as the Chiltern Line) from Marylebone to Birmingham via High Wycombe.

The next lake on our right is home to Broadwater Sailing Club, whose members were having fun on this blustery afternoon.

Looking the other way, across the Grand Union Canal we see more water, being more flooded gravel pits

We then walk around Harefield Marina, home to around 250 narrowboats.

...and then through a woodland which is growing on reclaimed industrial land, every now and then with bits of rusty ironwork poking out of the ground or lurking between the trees

And with this wooden boat now lying on land and with vegetation growing through it.

At Widewater Lock we regain the canal towpath, and stop for another break.

A boat comes into the lock - perhaps Henry wants to help by closing the gate for them.

Further on we come to Bridge 178 and Black Jack's Lock.

Black Jack's mill and lock. The former Victorian mill is named after a slave who worked there and delivered the flour ground there by donkey and cart

The elaborate weir carries the waters of the Colne leaving the canal

Opposite, new housing lines the canal

We then reach the bridge near Coppermill Lock, where we, somewhat sadly, part company with the canal. We have reached the westernmost point of the LOOP, and it is time to head east towards Enfield: not quite the home straight, but at last we are going in the right direction.

The impressive former premises of the Harefield Rubber Company

Henry as we climb away from the Colne valley through Park Wood

In Hill End, the former Plough pub, now the Childlink Learning Centre

The plough and site of the former pub sign

The rest of the walk is across open farmland, quite a contrast from the recent LOOP which, though while green, was mostly reclaimed industrial land, whereas this is properly rural, the first rural walking since near Coulsdon, many months ago.

Henry investigates the elaborate double-stile and walkway that leads us through the hedge.

Maize towering over the footpath, which struggles a bit between the crop and the nettles

And the Rose & Crown pub at Woodcock Hill, the end of today's walk, where Lucy and Ellie picked us up, having done quite well at a companion dog show.

As my left foot had been hurting since Uxbridge lock (i.e. almost the start), this was a somewhat painful walk, but a very pleasant one, with so much water and greenery. Psychologically, the end is in sight as we at last are heading east again.

London Loop Section 12 Uxbridge to Harefield West: 7.8km, 2 hours 40 minutes (including 50 minutes stopped), 50 metres of ascent.
London Loop Section 13 Harefield West as far as Woodcock Hill: 4.2km, 1 hour 10 minutes (including 10 minutes stopped), 114 metres of ascent.

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson