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Archive for the ‘ThisIsland2015’ Category

weather overcast mostly and humid. 16.7 miles.

I was aware the grand union canal had a second side arm joining the Thames and how to see it resulted in planning a circular walk. so i start with my arrival at Paddington station

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with the surprise of seeing a carriage on the platform from the Ffestiniog railway, i gess advertising their existence, or celebrating some milestone, i know no which but a surprise anyway of a railway i hope to ride again in August.

Now purchase a cuppa and wander of around the corner in search of the Paddington end of the grand union canal, a little sign pointed the way and it was nice and quiet as i headed north to little Venice which soon hove into view, pretty enough as i circled to the far side and start following what is now called the regents canal. This did involve a little of pavement looking down on the canal as the path is gated in places for those who live there.

At one point the canal disappears in a short tunnel but this was no problem just following the road ahead and then find a sign for access back down to the tow path where the tunnel ends.

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Yes this could all sound a bit to good as i strolled alongside many barges that are homes, because when i got to the far end of them i came upon a locked gate, ho hum the hikers favorite pass time, back tracking !, well lady luck shone on me once again when only a few yards back i mentioned to a man working on his barge roof the locked gate, no problem as he had a key, so a few minutes chat about the canal and what we were both doing with life saw the gate unlocked and me on my way again.

The canal now runs around Regents park but is in a fairly deep cutting giving an unusual view of some nice architecture in the par, after a while i start to hear rather a lot of bird calls then above me rises a huge netted cage with what look like a selection of Ibis in it (that’s my bird type guessing over for today), of course the map showed i was passing a zoo which explained the situation nicely.

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Nearing the end of the park there was a very top heavy looking barge, i guess it’s some kind of floating eatery.

It gets a bit difficult to choose what to photograph as this post could be a lot of photo’s long, but on i go wandering along the path this canal meanders through the Camden area and then down towards St pancras.

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A few times i have ridden out of this large station and looked down on the canal below wondering what it was like, today i was finding out that it is certainly pretty.

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And there was some inspired writing on the wall in some places. (of course there was plenty of graffiti that looked little more than a mess to me).

Moving on towards the Islington area brings a small problem.

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The canal disappears in a tunnel but i could just see light at the end of the tunnel, with no foot path through the tunnel i climbed the steps to street level.

Initially i spotted a sign pointing me in the direction of the eastern end of the tunnel, then the signs disappeared and after a while of guess work i became a little nervous of getting to far north, the biggest problem is old eyes starign at the street map in vain and not wanting to put my pack down to fish out some spectacles i did the other option and asked some one who gave excellent directions.  So i’m at street level walking through Islington, seems like a good idea to take a snack break as i was feeling the humidity a little. Food and drink enjoyed i continue, find the canal again and down the steps, onto the path and the quiet canal side stroll continues, through some really nice area’s, old locks, buildings, even a tall chimney, some new development happening, bits of parks and wildlife sanctuaries. i passed the junction with the Hartford canal and thought oh another path unwalked, maybe in the future.

I can only say it was a pleasure all the way to meeting the Thames once again, this time at the Limehouse basin.

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And took the this photo back at the last lock into that basin. Now i planned to pick up the Thames path, this time on the north side of the river which was easy enough and i found like when i was on the south side some time ago, it consists of quite a bit of popping to the waters edge where access allows and back amongst high buildings where access is denied. Never mind it’s what we have and i must say initially it was surprisingly quiet.  Approaching tower bridge this changed as throngs of tourists were encountered.

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It did give a nice photo opportunity for architecture old and new.

So the theme is places i have not been before, i carry on along the north shore passing many things i have heard of like Cleopatra’s needle, and when i get opposite the London eye, beside big ben i turn right to find St James park. Oh dear, noise abundant, music, loud hailers and banners, yes it’s some sort of protest and i’m walking through the middle of it while noticing the large police presence, none of this was much of a hindrance and provided a nice counter play to reaching the park which was quiet and green with some pleasant wild scents on the breeze. So a walk in the park is all very nice, then it ends at a big round about.

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I found myself outside a big house with shiny gates, but seeing no sign for cream tea’s i didn’t stop. No, i carried on up constitution hill and across into Hyde park where there was a tea kiosk, it sure was time for a pack of rest. The walk through this park was along side the serpentine and i’m used to seeing Canada geese in this country but was a little surprised that here they were out numbered by graylag geese and Egyptian geese. At the far end of the serpentine is the end of the park, leaving me with a few streets to navigate before seeing where i started. Was it a good day, well the forecast today was for many showers, i must admit the air did feel damp for a couple of short spells, but it was not easy to notice so basically a dry day.

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warm most of the time, occasional cool breeze. 17.5 miles.

The early train to Slough ran smoothly and a short walk with careful attention to the map, well, just gazing around actually got me to the very end of the slough arm of the Grand union canal and away we go to see what it is like.

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Very nice i have to say, surprisingly quiet and flat all the way to the main junction which is getting a bit ahead of myself as it’s five miles of wildlife, two fishermen, a very occasional dog walker or cyclist and amazingly quiet, one area of barges moored but it appears all the occupants are having a lie in, and there was a bridge with a wall covering of collected garbage (yep it looked good).

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When i reach the main canal it’s an area of canalside development which is nice enough and a little busier, even see a barge moving while a cormorant went paddling by like a duck seemingly totally at ease with people on the tow path (that would not happen at home). So its nice, sunny, i pass under some excellent new’ish bridges and some of the canal side flowers are two good to not photograph like this mass of wild rose.

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When it’s this nice, time and miles slip by with little attention and when i reach Hayes i decide to pop of the path and into the town for a snack, what a difference, suddenly mass of people and i can report it is definitely multi cultural. Snack over it’s return to the quiet path and carry on regardless, Heathrow airport is as busy as usual but the way the wind is means little noise from the planes. I reach the next canal junction which links with the arm that goes to Paddington and beyond, not that way for me today but it’s on the todo list.

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Still more wildlife than people, (am i really near London?) and shock when i reach Hanwell as there is the first lock of the day (that means a slope to negotiate :).  In a way i now run out of words good enough for the couple of miles there are several locks as the canal descends from the hills and this area is more beautiful than i could ever of imagined, i would go as far as saying it’s as good as any part of the grand union canal i have walked, i could easily imagine this is just how it looked a hundred years ago and can only recommend anyone near London walk this stretch.

As i get nearer Brentford the tall buildings start to appear but not in a spoil the view way and in one place i pass a long wall covered in a mural (only get part of it in an image).

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I finally reach some huge motorised locks and the gate house says Thames lock,

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yes the signs change from Grand union canal walk to Thames path and looking down from a nearby bridge it would appear the tide is out and the river is mostly mud.

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Now my walk didn’t finish here as i had worked out earlier from maps that my best bet for getting on the train line going west (homeward) was to walk onto Ealing, so i followed the path a little further and turned north on the correct road to plod through what was a nice enough area including passing the entrance to Ealing cemetery whose clock was very wrong but the building was great to look at.

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I even passed a sign pointing to Ealing studios, could some of us meet there some time to make “Carry on hiking” Well i suppose we would have to practice innuendo (not really a serious thought). There we are, i found Ealing station and was soon homeward bound. Another good day. (really i feel it was excellent).

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forecast dry start with wet afternoon. 13.5 miles. A walk i have done before at a different time of year and still very enjoyable. Canal1 It’s a short train journey to the start and just over a bridge and onto the canal path, nature has been very busy growing since i was last here and it soon obvious that flowering plants are abundant.   The miles tick by as does the time while i get distracted often to look at plants and insects, a few barges pass by, but i would say the canal is far from busy, i pass a couple of fishermen and an occasional walker but mostly i am alone. Canal2 I go under the old railbridge which has recently had a coat of paint and reach Hungerford marsh where i divert from the canal path to follow a small stream i know often has some interesting birds on it, today was a little disappointing in that respect but still very nice area. so back on the canal path i enter the lovely town and find the coffee shop which has a baguette that catches my eye as well, it’s a hard life is hiking. So sit by the canal and enjoy lunch while some optimistic ducks hang around for crumbs. Canal3 Once i leave hungerford the path goes along the edge of Hungerford common and then dunmill where i spot a lovely family of swans. And so the path continues, sometimes the wind gets a bit busy but the promised rain has not arrived yet.Canal4 Beyond Kintbury i stop by a bridge for it’s the sort of day where sitting with the boots amongst flowers and gazing downstream seems a great idea, summer isn’t for ever. Yes it’s lovely the last 3 miles pass by nicely, the path is good all the way, and after i reach home the rain starts. (must be a good day).

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weather fair, 5 to 6 miles.

Well, meet with a small band of friends today for a wildlife ramble in the cotswolds, we met at Kingham station and wandered towards Kingham village where for some unknown reason we visited two pubs for comparison and then set of across fields towards Bledington. The day was nice and so were the paths with some nice wooden bridges across streams.                                                                                                          Bridge

Bledington itself is as pretty as such villages should remain and the church certainly caught my eye.

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From here we headed across farmland towards and through the woods surrounding foxhole and dropped down onto the Oxfordshire way at a point i remember walking a couple of years ago following the river evenlode. so it was a familiar path back to Bledington and then a small road to the station for return home. There we are, nothing special to report just a jolly in the countryside. another good day.

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What a lovely place to wake up with the sound of a few farm animals nearby and a light mist gradually clearing, yes i get to pack a fairly dry tent after cup o soup, this is going to be a day to enjoy. We set of across fields on footpaths not always clear and gradually Penzance comes into view. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The gentle down hill into town was a pleasure and we come upon a little cafe that does the full breakfast, then stroll through town making any purchases necesary and work our way westward past the youth hostel and out onto footpaths and small lanes again. Time we reached Sancreed it was hot and a pack of rest was needed. I looked around the church for a water supply but found none, though i did see bees swarming on the back of the church and a very interesting grave stone made from an old mill stone. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I asked a local about a shop or pub and there was none, but he supplied me with water and was very interesting to talk to giving a potted history of the pubs demise and told me about the nearby holy well. So when we left we visited the holy well which had a tree overhanging it covered in bits of cloth and other donations. Now followed a couple of hours of mostly foot paths and eventually the uphill slog to the top of Carn Brae, (here again i saw a sign warning of Adders but saw no adders). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Pack of sat at the top made the journey worthwhile, we had a great view of the southern end of the country with the rocks and attendant light house clearly in view. Ah, the end is near, we wandered down the hill and along a road to Sennan for sandwich and drink, then it was the last mile or so to the lands end sign post where Andy could finally say he made it. (He rightly looked rather pleased and relieved, well done pal ). What we hadn’t expected was that on approaching lands end i heard a fog horn and sure enough a bank of fog was across the sea obscuring any views of the rocks and light house we could see so clearly a little while ago (such is cornish weather).

So after photo’s were taken, drinks were found and it’s catch a bus in the car park back to Penzance, the ride was great fun after so much walking. A pub in town served excellent food and then we went out to Marazion to a small campsite which again i would recommend. One thing that should be mentioned at the end of this approximately 130 mile journey is Andy’s humor about his new tent. Yes night one started with big smiles about the new cute tent, through the week i have never known a tent who’s poles have snapped so often, there were repair tubes, sticks, a walking pole and plenty of duct tape holding it together by the last night, i will leave him to write a review of it on his blog.

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Well the wind rattled my tent a bit over night then in the early hours i heard the rain. This seemed to have stopped by daylight until i looked out to the surprise of a heavy fog/mist across the landscape. I made a cup of soup and taking the quiet to be a lull in the rain i quickly packed and headed of assuring the others i would meet them in Portreath. Well the coast is steep here both up and down so it was a bracing start to the day, the fog remained but contrary to my expectations it didn’t rain again any amount just remained a damp mist on me which meant waterproofs but it was getting hot inside them while struggling uphill but cold as soon as i stopped for a rest at the tops.

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Eventually i was looking down on what looked a perfect shape port through the mist and lucky me happened upon a bakery just opening for the day, so i ordered a bacon roll and coffee while putting their table and chairs outside.

While enjoying my breakfast great mirth came my way when a woman with daughter (young) pulled up, the girl wanted a sausage roll but none were cooked and no she didn’t want anything else. oh how we can laugh at the tantrums of others. She started to see the funny side after a while when i suggested we should learn how to make sausage rolls and bring joy to many.

Time i had finnished my breakfast my companions arrived so another breakfast was a good idea, then we set of on the path again, small roads to the start of a long beach into Hayle, i remember a small cafe here when i walked the coast and yes it was still here and just as good, now the path goes partly through the dunes and part on the beach or thats what we did as the tide was out, some neat stone markers are used for the path here.

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Hayle itself is nice enough and we passed a apparently famous pasty shop, well we didn’t actually pass it but stopped for a pasty and i could roll my tent out in what had finally become a sunny day, yes the fog lifted as we walked along that beach.

Walking through the town we passed an interesting feature celebrating the invention of steam power in cornwall.

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We passed under the viaduct and out of town towards St Erth which again was pretty, then paths across country to Crowlas where the chip shop was no more.

A small lane took us up to Ludgvan and a first view of St Micheals mount.

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A small distance later we were at ash farm camp site, cheap and cheerful, quirky enough to be interesting (recommended), time to pitch tents, cook and soon of to sleep.

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The day looks good, lets pack and go, the coast path is mostly roads into Newquay and we headed for a cafe i remember on the railway station, yes it was still there and what a giant breakfast. Wandering on out of town i remember going a bit of course last time and what a bit of luck when a local pulled up at just the right moment to say if you go through that housing estate it will take you straight to the bridge.

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This started with where is the bridge as the tide was moving out but the bridge was still under water looking like a black line across the river.

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A short wait for the waters to ebb and Andy struck of across the bridge now emerging from the water.

I soon followed and we headed across the wet sands towards a small road up to Crantock, which was pretty in itself as the sun was out and this was turning out to look a perfect day.

Yes it was beautiful as we headed across country going over cubert common to holywell, penhale point, ligger point and eventually down onto the long beach to Perranporth.

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Perranporth provided yet another great cafe where i plumped for a club sandwich which turned out larger than i imagined (seems to be a theme of large meals today), a pot of tea and it’s ready to start wandering again.

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Small roads took us past Perranporth airfield where i spotted lamas in a field beside the road, the road became very narrow down through one valley that contained picture book old mining ruins.

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It was really steep up the other side into St Agnes where much amusement was had saying hi to a chap outside a pub, when we got to the top of the street there was a dog sat outside the vets barking for a pastime. while sitting in the street enjoying a drink and admiring the old church the earlier man turned up in a van and asked if we had seen a dog, well yes we had but it had no disappeared, of he went only to go by later with dog in van beside him.

Right, of to Porthtowan which didn’t seem to have a lot going for it, we took the coast path up onto the cliffs and found a rather nice field for the night.

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