If like me, you chose your place of living based on distance to work rather than distance to pleasure, and you now find yourself surrounded by a concrete jungle rather than pine trees (or palm trees if you prefer) then you are an idiot…we both idiots…
Luckily for us Great Britain has a solution for that. And no, it’s not travel abroad. Have you ever heard of the Grand Union Canal? Don’t worry if you haven’t because I have been living here for the past 12 yrs and only learned about it last month:)
In a nutshell the Grand Union Canal its a part of the British canal system. A glorious 220 km (137 miles) with main arm starting in London and ending in Birmingham. You can literally point a finger on this map and choose a segment that suits you best. You can bike it, run it, walk it, kayak it or simply hop on the boat.
Of course it’s best walked during the week when most people are at work or school but speaking from experience, I walked a part of it on a Sunday during half term and it wasn’t too bad. The busiest segments will be the one close to pubs, shops and play grounds. Well duh!
It is suitable for all ages HOWEVER the path can be very muddy and very narrow sometimes so please be careful, especially if you walk with little children.
If there is one thing that I noticed is that the further the path gets away from London the prettier the surroundings. But I’m probably biased. I never liked big cities.
Hanwell to Uxbridge (approximately 13km)
It only takes 15 min by train from Paddington station to get to Hanwell. From there you can either follow the Green Lane or the Brent river through Brent River Park. Once you get to the canal you will be presented with two choices: either take the arm towards London or the arm towards Watford.
I have to say on a sunny day this walk can be as satisfying as walking by the beach. No, it didn’t smell nasty although there are few parts that you may want to hold on your breath when passing through. Nothing major though.
I have to say that I had no idea how many people actually chose to live on a boat. It’s like another country. Each of those boats is as unique as its owner.
You will meet lots of swans and geese on your walk. Not sure how you feel about them but I personally preferred to be in a safe distance. Can’t really read their body language but I know they will hiss if you are too close:)
If there happens to be the owner on the boat you can be sure they will greet you with a hello and a smile! Very friendly folks!
If you are ever near Uxbridge I recommend a visit to the Little Britain Lake. Especially if you are a keen fisherman. Remember tho you will need a permit. Like for almost anything in Britain:)
There is a big picnic area for those summer days and plenty of space for kids to run around. I suspect it actually gets super busy in summer.
Did I convince you to give it a go? You can always grab couple of friends and turn it into a pub crawl as you will find plenty of them along the way. I know that few guys actually did just that and cycled the whole length:) enjoy it whatever your motivation!