Whilst moored at Denham, Francine and I had been a little surprised at hearing the tell-tale squeak of Rose-ringed Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) around us. The sound of the bright green parrots was unmistakable. Given that they’d spread from Richmond park to Windsor made us begin to wonder how far up the canal towards Bedfordshire we might find them.
We were not now exactly on familiar territory but we were on what should be a more reliably predictable territory for the final leg of our journey back up the Grand Union Canal to Leighton Buzzard. Having spent a peaceful night in the countryside near Denham, we decided that we could afford a more leisurely start. However, we were up and cruising at 8:30 AM. 🙂
The day was uneventful. Now back on a reasonable towpath, Francine and I chose to begin by walking between the first few locks and covered 5 miles – not a bad leg stretch. Then we re-boarded Juniper and rode between the subsequent locks. Around Rickmansworth, we were still hearing the occasional squeak of a Rose-ringed Parakeet.
After Rickmansworth, the canal winds along the bottom edge of Cassiobury Park in Watford, Franco’s home town, and Cassiobury Park is just below Franco’s alma mater, Watford Grammar School. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of some nostalgic sight from 43 years ago but, alas, the canal was almost completely tree-lined so views of anything at all were mostly obscured. I did spot of a series of Rugby goal posts which resurrected a bad memory – that of sliding headlong in freezing mud as another boy’s studded boots trampled on my hand. I hate to play field sports.
The Cassiobury Park section of canal was attractive and quiet. With the park available for nostalgic walks, it would have been a pleasant place to pass an afternoon and evening but we continued on to cover a bit more ground – well, water.
As with the tides on the River Thames, the timing of a stop on the canal can … not critical exactly but certainly important. After Cassiobury Park and nearing the north-western edge of the Watford area, we were beginning to approach the ring of the jaM25. If we kept going very much further, we would not only run into a constant drone of traffic but also possibly run out of more rural, restful moorings. I say possibly because, even though an erstwhile local, it was a long time ago and my knowledge of this particular area these days is scant. However, I mustered Juniper’s crew and we strenuously suggested to Capt. Virginia that he might like to pause and take stock. He submitted to crew pressure and moored.
We’d covered a whole 11 miles, 5 of which Francine and I had walked. We were about 2 hours short of Francine’s calculated itinerary, which would have had us stopping at Kings Langley. This was a nicer stop and we had time to spare. We called it a day.
The Rose-ringed Parakeets were still with us at Watford. A flight of three squawked and flapped their way over the golf course adjacent to our carefully selected overnight moorings. There certainly weren’t any bright green parrots here when I’d been a boy at school. 😉