The Grand Union Canal, Marsworth & Tring

17 March 2002

In what, with hindsight, was an ill-timed move, we went for a walk on Sunday afternoon around a circuit formed by the reservoirs and canals near Marsworth and Tring on the Herts/Bucks border.

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We walk away from the Anglers Retreat, one of three pubs here; the road is rising to cross the main line of the canal just behind the trees.

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We parked in the British Waterways carpark, and up onto the bank of Startops End Reservoir, one of a series built hereabouts to provide water to the Tring summit of the Grand Junction (now Grand Union) Canal.

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As it started to rain, the swans looked very much at home.

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A semi-cheerful and slightly damp Stephen battles through the mud of this public footpath, little realising how much more mud is to come.

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We reached the current terminus of the Wendover Arm of the canal, but were unable to find the route onto the towpath marked on the map, so retreated west to the road. This did mean we could examine the restoration work going on. Looking westwards, new canal walls are in evidence, and before too long this piece of the canal may be returned to navigation.

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Looking east; the water in the navigable part of the canal is just visible to the right of the white house.

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Bridge 3 on the Wendover Arm has recently been restored by British Waterways and the Wendover Arm Trust, and hopefully should soon see boats after several decades of a dry canal.

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What looks like half a lock, but is really a pair of stop gates

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Lucy by Tringford pumping station, which pumps water up from the reservoirs from where it flows to the summit level. This need for water is why this part of the otherwise unused arm of the canal was retained when the rest was abandoned in 1904 . The six-mile branch was built primarily with water supply in mind, though a flour mill and the famous boatbuilding yard of Bushell Bros. brought extra activity.

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After a long tramp along the very muddy towpath of the Wendover Arm in the rain, we finally reached the main line at Bulbourne Junction, much more tired than the distance covered would have suggested. Here the descent from the Tring summit begins, with seven locks taking the canal down to Marsworth. A covered drydock is visible next to the top lock. From here, although still very damp, the towpath was much better, and we made quick progress down the flight of locks and back to the car.

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