Londons Canals & Rivers have a long history
The Waterways, built two hundred years ago to
carry freight, form a large ring around and through London.
Begun in the late 18th Century, the majority of
the canal system was built without the benefits of modern technology
or public finance. From 1790 to 1929 a large number of competing
, independently owned canals were constructed. Through a series
of takeovers, the various companies eventually amalgamated and
created a 'union' of canals which could form a continuous link
between Birmingham, London and other important industrial areas.
Along every stretch of canal, you will find this heritage retained.
Traditionally painted narrowboats are still guided by original
mile posts, whilst working examples of mills, pump houses, ancient
locks and keeper's cottages are a common sight on any journey.
The Grand Union Today
Though originally intended for freight, the canal
is no longer as important as a trade route and you will now see
walkers, anglers and pleasure boaters enjoying the atmosphere
of the Grand Union today.
The Grand Union is also an important green corridor
for wildlife. Ducks, swans and moorhens are common. Here and there,
a heron can be seen surveying its territory and if you are lucky
you will spot a kingfisher. The towpath and canal margins contain
a wide variety of wild flowers, including flowering rush, water
dock and water lillies. In the summer dragonflies and damsal flies
skim the surface of the water, to the delight of boaters and passers
Rickmansworth to Brentford
This final southern stretch of the main line of
the Grand Union passes plenty of greenery and open spaces before
joining the Thames at Brentford. Along this scenic stretch you'll
find two Scheduled Ancient Monuments - Brunel's Three Bridges,
and the Hanwell Flight of Locks plus several visitor attractions
easily reached from the towpath.
Bulls Bridge to Little Venice
The Paddington Branch of the Grand Union runs
just over 14 miles from Bulls Bridge in Southall, past Little
Venice into Paddington Basin. The Basin is undergoing a major
transformation and is currently the largest redevelopment project
in Britain since Canary Wharf.