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Cloudy, calm some rain. 13.5 miles.

Off the train, cross bridge and onto the canal path, the cloud cover meant it was not a bright day, but the wind was quiet and the still air warm enough, just as per the forecast.

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It was not long before passing first swans of the day, the young are as big as the adults now.

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When i reached little bedwyn i took this photo which contains locks, footbridge over railway and fine church in the background, it was an excellent view which the photo does not do justice. At this point for the first time today as so often happens in this techno age i passed a woman so engaged on the mobile as to not hear my approach. Anyway i saw a few more people today and all seemed happy to exchange a cheery  nice morning.

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Not to much further and autumn colours hang strikingly from the hedge in the form of spindle berries. This shrub/small tree looks inconspicuous with some average green leaves through spring and summer but now the difference to other species is loud and clear, and a real joy to see. The canal continues through farm land and passes under a rail bridge which some men were working on, then out across the marsh which is a wildlife area but seemed lacking in wild life today, though maybe i should count the occasional dog being walked and two toddlers in a puddle (they just love a muddy puddle). The path side gets a bid busier now as i near Hungerford with parked barges and buildings getting closer until i meet the high street bridge and turn of the canal for a takeaway coffee.

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Having found a coffee to go with my sandwich i cross the bridge towards a bench seat and from the bridge spot a fairy circle, well it looks like a fairy circle but these are not the right species of fungi of fairy circle fame, these are sulphur tuft likely growing on the old roots of a tree which had been removed, a couple of locals confirmed this was the case. There we are, bench seat, sandwich, coffee by the canal and watch the world go by, that’s a pretty good rest stop. Walking out of Hungerford was the reverse of the way in as it gradually got quieter through the dun mill area and whats this, the forecast was cloudy and dry but this is now cloudy and damp as light rain began to fall. Never wet enough to really bother me it carried on the same for a few miles to Kintbury where i sheltered under a tree for a smoke and talk to the ducks, i didn’t need a rest but it was a nice spot to watch the birds for a while.

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Thus the rain continued as i plodded towards Newbury, in many places the hedge overhangs the path enough to keep the rain off me while it still makes drip marks on the canal surface. Near Marsh benham i passed over the muddiest part of the path today which had generally been damp but firm and never a problem.

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Here again i passed autumns bounty, this time crap apples, many on the tree and many on the path. Soon after this the rain stopped once again so the day ended as it started, as i approached Newbury i also say another kingfisher, i saw four of these today which must be lucky but always they fly before i’m near enough for a photo. another good day.

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calm, mild some sunshine. 9.8 miles.

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Early train to Pewsey and a short walk to the canal side path.

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It soon became quiet and autumnal, the distance started to disappear in an enjoyable way.

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There is always the unexpected and today someone artistic had made a family of hedgehogs from teasels.

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A few more miles had me reach the Bruce tunnel which does not have a tow path through it, i have to take the right fork in the path which goes over the hill. It’s all very nice and will stay so as i met a group who were working their way along the path clearing any over hanging branches etc.Stopped for a break opposite the crofton steam engine house and some how forgot to take a photo.

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Back to plodding and enjoying the tranquility it seemed all to soon i was approaching Bedwyn when i spied it’s church through the trees, a couple more bridges to the one which takes me over to the village and it’s rural station. The next train was half an hour away so i went to the local bakery for bap and coffee, sitting in such pleasant surroundings there hardly seemed any rush for the train to arrive.

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Is Bedwyn pretty, well here is another  photo.

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A very nice autumn day to get back to rambling 9.4 miles.

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So first fit the boots, great they were comfortable all day. just a gentle amble along a route i had done sometime ago (well quite a few years actually, how time flies). The canal path is mostly rural and the autumn colours are starting so all i can say really how much i enjoyed it. A few more of these to aim for some level of fitness then hopefully time to continue on paths not walked yet.

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warm, dry, sunshine at times. 20.1 miles.

A day of what can be seen canal side.

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The day started back at hemel hemstead and parkland alongside the canal included grazing horses. Yep it’s pretty as a picture, the weather is warm and dry, already plenty of people about. A lot of today looks on the map to be beside/through built up areas but the walk never felt much less than rural.

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Pretty bridges soon hove into view. There had been plenty of rain in the last week but the path was mostly excellent with never more than small amounts of mud to go round.

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Its not everyday i notice a dinosaur peeping over the hedge at me, so i assume that must be part of a themed park but didn’t explore further. Somewhere around this time i came across a bench to sit and enjoy first sandwich, i could have sat there for an hour as it was so nice but there are many miles yet to wander. There were many unusual things to pass including a very large gorilla hanging on the side of a long ruined industrial building, the photo of that didn’t focus well.

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Of course i passed and sometimes crossed many a fine bridge, this was just one of them that were pleasing to the eye.

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It’s difficult to say more about how nice the trail is, at times the path is overhung by weeping willow trees so it’s rather like an idyllic story book image when in fact its true.

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Presently at Rickmansworth there was a tea shack right beside the path, picnic table, pack of and mug of tea yes this is hiking at it’s best. Moving on i passed the monkey which didn’t photograph very well and later came to an indication of how bad theft may be around here.

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Yes, a crocodile guarding a bird feeder :),  note from the photo just how abundant flowers are right now. when i reached Uxbridge there was another canal side tea garden which is not an opportunity to pass, the people were very chatty as we drank tea and watched baby water birds exploring their new world.

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Moving on and i’m still passing barges painted and adorned in a variety of ways, this carving caught my eye as the carver has a skill i seem to lack. A couple of miles had me passing the junction of the Slough side arm of the canal and it was then but a short distance through a modern housing development and cross a bridge to West drayton station.

 

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Sunshine, some clouds, warm.  18.5 miles.

Well the train journeys for the last few walks have been a bit long really but that situation is improving as i get nearer London, today despite being 2 minutes late arriving at padington, the underground went brisk and i got out of Euston on a train earlier than the schedule.  so down from Leighton station, pick up a take out coffee from a garage and onto the canal to the first bench and sit down to enjoy first sandwich and a drink, having removed my pack i found one of the upper straps undone and no sandwiches, well i know i’m getting old and forgetful but loosing sandwiches is a new low, never mind, nice drink and a smoke then away along the path.

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It soon got pretty and i’m afraid today will be a story of a pretty bit followed by another pretty bit, the sun was good and the path was busy with happy walkers while the equally happy boater where happy to wave. Pubs beside locks featured often and as the day progressed they got busier and busier.

 

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Plenty of old bridges spanned the canal, it was a joy to just keep walking and enjoy what appeared around the next corner. OK this went on for the first half of the day and i took far to many photo’s of similar things.

 

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Approaching half way for the day i came to the junction with the Aylesbury canal, so a little overlap with Tuesdays walk would ensue. Now this meant passing the tea shop i remembered and yes it was open, the lady remembered me and could do a pot of tea and a bacon butty, now that sounds like pleasure though the price didn’t seem the cheapest. I sat outside and pot of tea soon arrived and was a very nice flavor, next the bacon butty arrived and it was a good size (read large),  next the lady asked if i would like the tea pot refiled (no charge), this turned out to be a good deal and i rejoined the path a happy bunny. The small over lap with Tuesdays route goes alongside a wetland, lake wildlife are so i walked on the embankment surrounding that this time.

 

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Passing the Wendover junction i was back on new territory and some fine buildings soon came into view. Then the canal moves into a fairly deep cutting which was more shady, i had been musing over the fact that despite yesterdays extensive rain the path had been very good with a few small muddy patches, well along came a man on a bicycle who as he approached said it gets wet further along, i was saying thanks for the info when to confirm the situation he said it gets very wet, oh OK, he was obviously serious about the warning.

 

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When i reached said section it was certainly a water path where the towpath was dished in shape, but it never came over the top of my boots, they did come out the other side well muddy but that dried off as the day continued. Ayway on i continued and as the canal emerged from the cutting the path returned to it’s former condition and so did the lovely lock, buildings and bridges.

 

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When i reached Berkhampsted the surprise of the day was a totem pole.

 

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And one more building i couldn’t resit photographing. I know i said it before but the path continued oh so pretty, little hamlets, water meadows and the pubs now had people spilling out waterside which meant i had to pick my way through them, i did resist photo’s of signets, ducklings and herons today, they are becoming the norm. I was a little surprised at the speed i made today and near the end was checking the map carefully to be sure i wasn’t fooling myself with current position, so when the map indicated at a bridge i should turn for the station i asked a couple of locals to be sure, and they said yes it’s just over the road behind the trees, a short plod across parkland and yes they were correct as my map reading which was pleasing. The only real concern was on returning home, when i looked in the fridge there were my sandwiches which leads to further concerns about the gray matter. a fine day never the less.

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Dry, cloudy, warm, little breeze at times. 14.5 miles.

This promised to be an interesting hike along two sidearms of the grand union canal which i had read about some time ago, and so it proved.

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Finding the start of the Aylesbury  arm was not to difficult from the station and after a bit of area under development i was soon into the countryside.

 

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After a couple of miles i came upon a lock that had been left set wrong (so i thought) as it was definitely overflowing the lower gates, i don’t carry a winding handle so there was nothing i could do to alleviate the situation. As it turned out several locks in a row were showing the same symptoms (the problem seemed to be an outfall not working near Wilstone.

 

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Anyway at one point i passed a Heron poised for action, the other notable aspect that as well as pretty, this side arm was incredibly quiet, i passed one lady hiker going the other way and didn’t see one boat moving. This changed completely on reaching the junction with the grand union canal proper which was real busy and a turn left soon brought me the first bit of luck in the form of a tea shop, perfect time for a pack of rest and my sandwich while watching a proud family of Canada geese parade up and down the water with four goslings.

 

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A short walk on the main canal brought me to the junction with the Wendover side arm and along it i went. Nice enough and it took me along the edge of Tring which for a place name i think is great, on reaching little tring  i new in advance a short bit of road work was necessary as some of this canal had long fell into disrepair and restoration is needed/planned.

 

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Well when i turned back of the road this is the canal i found. There was about a mile like this pretty much dry and repairs were in progress on various parts.

 

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I eventually came to where the canal was blocked of and now contained water again, plus some nice flowers, iris’s i believe. i have to say for me, from here on the walk became even more pretty, it really was a joy, i kept passing ducks with young that i didn’t recognise until eventually i came upon a duck with young plus the male, it seems mandarin ducks are breeding very well on this canal.

 

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Sometimes the canal passed through woodland which was great with dappled shade of spring.

 

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Why shouldn’t bridge design be nice enough to enhance the view. i did speak with one local dog walker along this section and when i asked when he thought the first boat would return he replied never, so they we are optimism though free isn’t part of everyone’s thinking.

 

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Eventually i came to a basin/turning area which would be the terminus of the canal plus this short side arm to the water supply that obviously kept the canal full for working. There next followed a piece of luck as i emerged on the road it was not particularly clear which was i should head for the station, well i asked a chap carrying a large bag and it turned out he was going past the station to the cricket ground for some practice, so i got a nice chat while being guided via the short root through a housing estate, low and behold the only shower of the day came and went during this walk and we bade each other good luck at the station. (brilliant day).  Only a few of my photo’s appear here and i could have taken more.

 

 

 

 

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Mild, windy, sunshine and showers. 17.6 miles.

Back on the canal and despite the area looking rather built up on the map, going around Milton keynes was rather nice, it wasn’t long before i passed a long wall with mural on it.

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I could only get a short portion into one photo.

 

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Then possibly the surprise of the day was spotting a canoe with skeleton crew.

so it was all pleasant enough despite a bit to much wind at times, along the canal there were lots of parks, i passed ducks with ducklings and today.

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Swans with signets. (even saw a swan sitting on it’s nest at one time).

The forecast really wasn’t good for today so the dry start was most welcome, anyway after a few miles a shower started to blow across and i was lucky it wasn’t far from a bridge where i could take a smoke and shelter for ten minutes, then low and behold the shower started to fizzle out and i was on my way again.

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It turned into a good day for wildlife as next i happened upon greylag geese with goslings, they didn’t want to move and chose to hiss as i passed, guess they felt they had protected their young and i wasn’t bothered so everyone was happy. I had stopped for a snack at one time but when i reached fenny stratford the was a canal side pub to supply a take out cup of tea and sandwich time it was, while enjoying the tea two cyclists stopped to ask for directions and we had quite a chat.

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The wildlife continued to be there for a photo, this time a heron who didn’t look his best with the wind ruffled feathers. The walk had been nice enough but now the canal moves into open countryside and it was beautiful,

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Stoke hamond has an impressive bridge (well it looks nice).

 

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And three locks as the name suggests has a flight of three sets of locks, when mostly the canal builders managed to keep the canal level by following the natural contours of the land. This shows up well soon as the canal and railway come side by side, then the canal takes a big curve to go round a hill whereas the railway chose to tunnel straight through the hill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Alongside the path was a felled willow tree and as i drew alongside i noticed this fairly large Dryad’s saddle fungus, and then the rain started again, it was soon getting to wish i could find some shelter and don the waterproofs when it started to ease, there we are a lucky day indeed when i saw about ten percent of the rain that was forecast, it was quite easy to find the right bridge in Leighton Buzzard, turn right and wander up to the station. (another good day).

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