I did some interesting towpath rangering yesterday, recording details of access points on and off the towpath at the eastern end of the Slough Arm. CRT is working towards a national policy on design of signposts and boards to try to do something about the completely confusing jumble of way markers and walking route signs everywhere. Lots of councils have devised pleasant walks and cycle rides that use a piece of the towpath and they give them names like Beeches Way, or Hillingdon Trail and so on. I don’t know about you but when I see these by the canal, I don’t know what half of them are.
The Slough Arm has its share of these, and also a number of footpaths that aren’t signed at all, so should you moor up and want to get to, say, West Drayton. You wouldn’t know that some muddy little track of the towpath might take you there. So I’ve been trying to identify what is what and photographing the paths where they enter or leave the towpath and filling in a form to record the path conditions and signs and all that stuff. Now before you say why is CRT wasting valuable boater’s money on signs for walkers, I should tell you that they are not. Some of the money for improvements comes from Boris through TfL and in this case some will come from Hillingdon council, including potentially some over bridge improvements and a general tidy up of various places. One such spot is down near Bulls bridge / Hayes, where a few undesirable characters hanging around have made the towpath somewhat intimidating. I don’t think I would want to stop my boat at Hayes, even though it would be handy for shops and a pub. What they hope to do is to spend a bit of money making the area more attractive and less of a hidey hole for drug dealers. Anyway I digress. back to the Slough Arm, which by the way is looking quite pretty at the minute.
In the first half mile from the junction there are 5 places where you can enter or leave the towpath and none have a signpost actually visible from the path. Sad really because a number of them lead to pleasant lakeside or riverside walks. I wish I had known about these walks when we were Slough Arm regulars. Take this one by Bridge 1
The obelisk tells you nothing useful. The only signpost is up at thee top of that little path where canal users can’t see it. I never knew until yesterday that it would provide an attractive walk to Packet Boat Lane for the marina gate and the pub, not to mention the attractive backwater of Little Britain. Neither did I know that in the other direction it would lead me on a lakeside walk to West Drayton. I hope that after this exercise is finished we can put that right.
As for this next one, anybody who has taken a boat down the arm will recognise this reclamation plant.
but I bet you never knew that that little path leading off would also take you to West Drayton. (another of my panorama shots that one).
Would you like to see a picture of my fingertip?
Sorry about that. Did you know that this park is about two minutes walk from the junction bridge? Neither did I. If you were on the moorings just opposite the marina entrance you could use this park for a picnic or a barbecue.
The really odd thing though is this
As far as I can make out, these carefully constructed steps lead, er, nowhere!
In the afternoon I went up to the CRT office at Little Venice for a progress meeting and had a very quick stroll round Paddington Basin while I was there. There were spaces for three or four boats, so not too bad. Not all that much visible progress on the works at the end since I was last there, but I think it’ll be swanky when it’s finished. Someone commented on another blog that they won’t let us boaters up the far end. No they won’t but there will be boats there as I understand it will be a floating market.
Cryptic note: Owners of a certain boat that I am very familiar with will be pleased to note that she looks untroubled.