No boat? No Problem. You Can Still enjoy Easter on the Canals!
As you may already know, the first signs of Spring are the daffodils on the bank, the chocolate Easter eggs in the shops and the narrowboats returning to the Cut for their first cruise of the season on the Easter bank holiday weekend. But if you don’t have your own boat yet, or are thinking of selling your boat then you can still enjoy a day out on the Grand Union canal. Here are some of my favourite places to visit by boat, or by foot.
I first visited this little-known gem by narrowboat, and as you cruise past parkland and trees you wouldn’t guess that you are so close to Watford’s town centre. It’s a peaceful location for walking, running, fishing or gongoozling (boat watching.) The canal passes along the west side of the park, close to the splash pool, playground and mini railway so it’s great destination for a family day out. Wander along past Whippendale Woods and discover a quaint row of canal-side cottages. Try the Cha Cha Cha Café for refreshments, near the Shepherds Road entrance of Cassiobury Park. The nearest tube station is Watford, on the Metropolitan line.
Affectionately known as Berko by the local boaters, this pretty town was once a busy inland port and Castle Wharf was at the centre of canal trade and boat building activity. The castle ruins are right beside the canal and are a great place for a picnic. There is a well-equipped, colourful playground at Castle Fields right next to the canal (although it’s safely fenced off from the water’s edge!) and a short walk south of the lock you will discover an unusual Canadian totem pole. If you have enough time to hang around take in a movie at the gorgeously old-fashioned cinema, The Rex, where they will serve wine,cheese and biscuits to your armchair!
Cosy canal-side pubs serving food include The Boat, The Old Mill, The Crystal Palace and The Rising Sun: a cosy, lock-side English traditional pub with real ales.
Tring and Marsworth
Having lived aboard and cruised the waterways of London, Hertfordshire and Essex for several years I finally chose Tring as one of my favourite places, and got myself a residential mooring to settle down in Marsworth. Tring is a pretty market town with plenty of places to eat and a unique Natural History Museum, featuring animal specimens collected by the rich eccentric Walter Rothschild.
Between Tring and Marsworth you can discover the stunning beauty of the Tring Reservoirs, perfect for dog walking, cycling, fishing,walking and bird spotting. The area is also great for boat spotting on the Easter weekend as the busy Grand Union passes right alongside the reservoirs. Marsworth and Wilstone are attractive canal-side villages that offer cosy pubs, plus the quaint Bluebells Tearooms, great for ice-cream and cakes beside lock 39, Startops End.
At Bulbourne you will find The Grand Junction Arms (a good family pub with beer garden), a canal-side picnic area, Bates Boatyard and as a point of interest, The Bargee (1964 British comedy) was filmed here!
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