Sunday, January 22, 2023

Canal walks: the frozen Slough Arm

 I haven't posted for a bit, but recently did another canal walk so thought it would be useful to add to the list, namely the Slough Arm. This is a bit of the Grand Union Canal that heads off to Slough, hence the name.

I wasn't sure if it counts as a London canal, but I spotted it on a map at the London Canal Museum, so I guess it does. The nearest station is West Drayton, though I actually started walking from Hayes and Harlington, as that's where I started/ended upon on my last surveys of the canals of London.

At first you walk along the Grand Union, and all is rather familiar:

You pass people walking their dogs, heading off to the shops etc. until you reach the point where the Slough Arm begins (or ends, depending upon your perspective), ahead on the left of this photo:

After crossing the bridge it was off along the Slough Arm, and it felt strangely dream-like. For the first 45 minutes I saw just the one other person (more on this later) and there were no boats moving. That could have been because the canal was frozen:

That's not a reflection in water, but in ice.

It felt weird, remote and unexpected, made more dream-like by the only person I saw was a young man with a large falcon on his wrist.

It would have been like something out of a post-apocalypse movie, apart from the clearly audible roar of the M25 motorway. This sign felt appropriate:

I saw a heron, standing on the ice, a fox and a couple of deer.

Ultimately the canal went by Langley and got a bit busier, with stacks of moored canal boats and more people. One sign of the people were the number of things thrown on the ice to see if they'd sink through:

That's a brick, stuck in the ice, middle channel, but I also saw many branches, a trainer and someone's bag:

The ice was a bit too thin for me to venture out and rescue it.

I was wondering how the canal would end: would there be a wharf with warehouses converted into bars and restaurants? The answer was no, it just stopped:

Then it was time to get to Slough station and the new Elizabeth line back to London. 

An interesting walk, not what I expected, and definitely memorable.