Slow travel on the Grand Union Canal

We rented a canalboat (or narrowboat) for the second week of our trip. It felt wonderful to slow down after our week in and around London.

 It was a comfortable boat with a lounge, galley, two bathrooms, and 2 bedrooms
--bigger than our London apartment.

Almost immediately after setting out, we encountered a boat that had grounded. We towed them off the mud and then all tagged along together to make our way through the first locks. They were a nice young family from South Africa.


The four kids had fun working together that first day getting through all the locks.


The girls also had fun steering the boat. They were careful not to go to close to the muddy edge!

The scenery was gorgeous. We enjoyed stopping to walk into some of the canal towns.


Each night we just put stakes in the side of the canal and stopped!
Here Liz and I are having a cup of tea early in the morning before getting underway. 
We all enjoyed relaxing up front with books, cameras, and crochet.


We went across an aquaduct--note the low rim on the left. There was a river far, far below.


And there was Liz perched on top. They loved being on the roof. 
I didn't love them being on the roof (but let them).


 Oh. That roof. "Chillax Mom."


We had a couple of days with a lot of locks. They were so fun to do.
One day Helen invited some of the onlookers to help. It made their day.


We stopped in a canal town where lots of boats sported little shops. 
Here is Liz having fun at the CANDY BOAT.


Evenings brought quiet waters and libations while we cruised to just the perfect spot to moor.


One evening we moored by this beautiful bridge.

In the evening we all journaled. The girls had gathered a huge quantity of brochures, business cards, train tickets, and all sorts of ephemera from our previous week in London. It was fun to hear them processing the trip as they scrapbooked. I bring journaling materials along on every trip. It is a great way to stop and reflect on the day.

I always try to find time on a trip to work on the journals and we had started these in London. It is important to just STOP while on a trip. We also knew that once we got home, we wouldn't do it.

We are enjoying looking through them now that we are home.
They are probably our most precious souvenirs.


Every turn around the bend of the canal brought another beautiful vista.


We came upon this sign for the Camphill Cafe. From the sign we guessed it had a Waldorf Connection so we stopped to investigate. We were right. We met some very nice people and had one of the best meals of the trip, right from the community garden.


Slow travel is a good thing. 
While waiting for the locks we got to chat with fellow boaters and onlookers.


We got to eat local food at local pubs (some better than others).


And we got to explore England at our own pace.


After we returned our boat, we spent a final day at Windsor Castle and had a final tea in Windsor before flying out via Iceland. A fine end to our most excellent adventure.

We are confirmed narrowboaters and all of us desperately want to do it again.









Anonymous –   – (August 17, 2011 at 10:23 AM)  

Oh, I am so sad! I haven't caught up on my blog reading and I didn't know you were coming. I live just outside london and I would have enjoyed showing you the sights (as I have enjoyed reading your blog all these years!). Looks like you did just fine without my help! sarah

Sarah  – (August 17, 2011 at 2:47 PM)  

Hi Sarah, Do you have a blog? I'm always interested in who is reading! Sorry we didn't connect earlier!

sarah elwell  – (August 17, 2011 at 10:28 PM)  

This looks like lots of fun! :-)

J.G.  – (August 20, 2011 at 6:06 PM)  

This could be a travel brochure for the boat company! It sounds absolutely idyllic!

Tara  – (August 20, 2011 at 10:17 PM)  

How wonderful! We chartered a houseboat on the Erie
canal last year, and your trip brings back many fond memories of slow travel, going through locks, and living in tiny quarters. We may just have to try English canal travel next year!

Sarah  – (August 21, 2011 at 11:59 AM)  

Tara-- We have thought about doing the Erie Canal in the future. At least there wouldn't be airfare costs...but France on a canalboat beckons....

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