End of the Line

We set off again in wet conditions this morning with the expectation that the weather would be drier later.  We had no locks today, so keeping dry under the cover was not going to be tricky.  The plan was to cruise as far as the top of the Marsworth Locks but then turn on to the Wendover Arm.  As we approached the junction I sized up the height of the bridge – it was just as high as the main line, so the cover could stay up.  It wasn’t long before we came to another bridge.  It was obvious from a distance that we would fit under that.  The autumn colours at the side of the bridge were spectacular too.

Brick arch bridge on the Welford Arm.  The parapets of the bridge on either side are partly occluded by vegetation.  On one side the leaves in the trees shade from green through yellow to orange. The still waters of the canal reflect the scene above.
Wendover Arm Bridge with Autumn Colours

The canal is narrower and shallower than the main line, and progress felt slow.  Despite that, there didn’t seem to be the accumulation of weed and rubbish we had encountered in the Slough Arm.  The canal weaves through the countryside with only a few buildings anywhere near.  In hardly any time at all it felt quite isolated.  By now the rain had stopped and sun was trying to break through.

I spotted a heron ahead of us and assumed it would be unused to boats and therefore very timid.  To our surprise it took off and flew towards us, landing on the bank level with the back of the boat.

Heron flying towards the boat.  A heron is just taking off from the reeds at the side of the canal.  Unusually it is heading towards the boat, whose nose is visible at the bottom of the picture.
Heron Taking Off Towards Bartimaeus

I got the feeling that we were pushing in to a current, but it was very hard to tell.  For every boat length we move forward, the boat’s weight in water has to move from in front to behind us.  In a shallow, narrow canal the water rushes backwards along the side of the boat pretty quickly.  We were in a particularly narrow section when I was surprised to see a boat coming the other way.  We both came to a stop but the other driver beckoned me on.  There was just enough room to squeeze past – Narrow Escape.

Two narrowboats meet.   Viewed from the stern of a narrowboat, there is no visible canal except in front of the oncoming boat.  The banks on either side are gently sloping vegetation leading to fields.
Meeting Narrow Escape

A little further on there was a water inlet on the side of the canal.  As soon as we were passed, the going seemed easier.  Either the canal was suddenly deeper, or we were no longer pushing upstream – or both!  It wasn’t much further before we came to the winding hole that is currently the terminus of the arm.  As we turned we took a photo of the plaque at the terminus.  This is our evidence of arriving at another Silver Propellor location.  It was quite a relief to do so without getting anything caught in our propellor.

A woman at the helm of a narrowboat. She is wearing a coat and headband to keep warm. Behind her on the towpath is a commemorative plaque on a brick pillar. The plaque records that the arm was opened in 2004 by the legacy of Tim Wilkinson.
Clare on Bartimaeus at End of Wendover Arm

We moored up nearby and then walked along the towpath to view the terminus properly.  There was clear evidence of the ongoing efforts by the Wendover Canal Trust to restore the canal.  Unfortunately it will be another year or two before boats will be able to get any further than we have today, and not until the end of the decade before Wendover can be reached.

View along a dewatered canal. nearby is a narrow section with a concrete base and brick sides. Further away is a steep sided trench wide enough to form a canal. There are a number of plastic temporary barriers - some in useful places, others lying on the bed of the canal.
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From our mooring, it was a short walk in the now brighter weather to Tring.  We spent a pleasant afternoon in the Tring Natural History Museum, oblivious to the heavy showers.  We managed to walk both ways and to and from a cafe in the village without getting rained on, though we had to dodge a lot of puddles.

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