"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 29 September 2014

Signs of Autumn along the Grand Union Canal

D and I went for a stroll along another section of the Grand Union Canal yesterday. We started off at Waterfield Bridge and walked down to Knowle Locks and back.

The Grand Union Canal is 300 miles long and links London to Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham. It was formed on the 1st January 1929 when at least 8 separate canals were linked. The most important of these was the Grand Junction Canal constructed around 1800 by engineer William Jessop. Trade on the canal ceased in 1963 and these days it is used for leisure activities.

There were many signs of autumn as we walked along the towpath.

Black Bryony Berries - these are garlanding hedgerows every where locally. Not to be eaten though as they are poisonous.

I wish we had taken a container as there are still plenty of blackberries to be picked.




Ivy flowers are appearing and they were covered in bees and hoverflies illustrating how important a nectar source they are for insects during the autumn. There were several dragonflies and butterflies (Speckled Wood and Red Admiral) around but none came close enough for a photograph.

Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

Tar Spot Fungus on Sycamore

Seedheads everywhere

Robin's Pincushion or the Bedeguar Gall - caused by the Gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae) which lays eggs on the leaves or stems of wild roses. One gall can contain several grubs each living in an individual chamber.

Conkers were scattered all over the path.

Green Alkanet was flowering in several places.

This female mallard was very tame - we were feeding her blackberries!

Approaching Knowle Locks

Knowle Locks consist of 5 (originally there were 6) locks that rise 42 feet.

Is this a new name for a loo? I really should have had a look!


Countryside Tales said...

A lovely post, Caroline. Canals and locks fascinate me. In fact, we are thinking of spending next summer's hols in the midlands so we can take the kids to see all the historical Industrial stuff. I spent a week doing that aged 14 with school and although I was very worried about going I have very fond memories of it.

I didn't know there could be several Robin's Pincushion Gall larvae in each bit, so I have learnt something new :o)

Nice to see the Green Alkanet- we had so much of it here in the Spring, such a pretty vibrant flower xx

amanda peters said...

A lovely walk with lots to see, and the weather has been great. Not seen Green Alkanat before so will look out for this...
Amanda xx

SeagullSuzie said...

What a lovely walk, made me feel like I was there and now of course I feel very much like Autumn is here. Thank you for a great look at the English countryside.

Chris Rohrer said...

You have chestnuts!!!! I haven't seen those in years! So cool. Love canal trips and the walk along the path is always quite lovely.

Margaret Adamson said...

I love walking along the tow paths of canals and this was lovely to see all the finds on your walk.

Ragged Robin said...

Just a quick note to say I wish I could reply individually to you all under your particular comment but I can't find a way to change it - I fear one of these days I will have to take the plunge and update to new Blogger!!

Countryside Tales - Many thanks CT. I think that is a great idea of yours for a family holiday. We've often thought of a narrow boat holiday too.

I usually think of Green Alkanet as a Spring flower - just checked in a wildflower book which suggests flowering April to July. Perhaps mild warm weather has induced a second flowering?

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda - the weather is unbelievably warm! As mentioned to CT above normally see Green Alkanet flowering earlier in the year. Its very pretty and does attract insects.

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much :) Leaves on trees are starting to change colour here too :)

Chris Rohrer - Thanks Chris :) Love Chestnuts although over here we tend to use conkers for playing games and eat the sweet chestnuts!! :)

Margaret Adamson - Thanks so much - glad you enjoyed the post :)

Countryside Tales said...

I thought it was a Spring flower too. Is it worth recording it with your local flora recorder? Assuming there is one- they seem to exist for just about everything else! I suppose failing that, perhaps the local wildlife trust?
My version of blogger has a 'reply' button under each individual comment. Not sure which version it is though! :o)

Em Parkinson said...

A really lovely walk with you. Not many signs of autumn here funnily enough, other than the misty, dewy mornings. The leaves are really hanging in there!

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Good idea about recording the sighting? Not sure about local flora recorder - have names of most other species' recorders but not flora - there must be one I would think.

I was looking at Plantlife website today where I see to remember there was a section where you could record flowers in your area - I'll check that out again and also see if I can find anything out about a local recorder. Thanks for suggestion. Will let you know if I find anything out.

I haven't a clue what version of Blogger I have either :( My son raves about the latest version but I worry if I update it might affect old posts? Probably not but I might create a new blog (just to try out the new blogger!!)

Em Parkinson - Many thanks :) Our whitebeam tree in the garden has lost nearly all its leaves already :( Others are just starting to change colour.

Toffeeapple said...

A lovely canalside walk, thank you. I live close to the Grand Union but I can't find easy access to it now that I don't walk too well.

I think the Sanitary Station is for emptiying chemical toilets from the narrowboats. Not a job I should enjoy!

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much. Yes, I remember you saying once you lived near a canal. I'm so sorry access is difficult for you now - when we've walked up and down onto the tow path from access points it is very steep and uneven :(

Thanks so much for clearing up the role of the Sanitary Station - makes sense now! No I wouldn't be keen on that job either!!