The canals in Buckinghamshire make a fabulous day trip and an unusual walking experience. You can catch glimpses of wildlife at the water’s edge, learn the history behind the canals and discover what it may be like living on a narrow boat.
If you sneak round the back of the Waterside Theatre you may be surprised to see the Aylesbury Basin, a mooring station for boats travelling along the canal. It is also a great starting point for a family walk alongside the water’s edge to escape the hustle and bustle of the town centre. If you follow the tow path you will reach Circus Field Marina which is home to more boats and the Aylesbury Arm Canal.
The Aylesbury Arm is part of the Grand Union Canal and was used to transport grain, timber, coal and building materials until the 1960s. A team of canal enthusiasts have worked hard to keep it open when recently it had been threatened with closure. It is an exciting time for Aylesbury as this September they will host their first festival at the basin which will celebrate and help to make people aware of this unique area. The festival plans to have crafts, activities and even a ‘floating market’ where you can shop and buy off the boats. The waterside festival is scheduled take place on 8-9th of September which is also the first weekend of Heritage Open Days.
The Canal River Trust have created a fantastic map of the area which is free to download.
If you want to experience what it is like on a narrow boat, book an adventure on the water with ‘The Little Trip Boat.’ Enjoy a cruise along the canal through two locks and you may even have the opportunity to learn how to operate a lock yourself.
Visit our ‘Aylesbury’ page to find out what else you can get up to while you are visiting the area.
Wendover Arm Canal
Another canal you can visit in Buckinghamshire is the Wendover Arm Canal. Opened in 1799, the purpose of the canal was to supply water to the summit level of the Grand Junction canal. It is 6.7 miles long and is currently being reconstructed by Wendover Arm Trust so it is navigable for boats. However it is possible to walk the entire Arm along the towpath, where you are able to walk through the villages of Halton, Buckland Wharf and Little Tring. If you want to make a weekend of your tip to continue exploring Buckinghamshire then why not book to stay at the quirky Chiltern Yurt Retreat. Choose from the ‘Kingfisher Yurt,’ ‘Badgers Bower’ or ‘Hazel Tree Cabin’ for a unique get away in the woodland of Wendover.
The Grand Junction Canal which linked London to Birmingham, runs though the town of Berkhamsted. This was once a busy inland port and the centre of boat building activity, in fact it is still known as the Port of Berkhamsted today. There is a track alongside the canal which is great way to reach London as you can cycle all the way there. You can book a guided tour and cream tea along the canal with Ashridge Electric Bike Tours.
Sitting on the edge of the Chilterns, an area of outstanding natural beauty is Tring Reservoir. It supplies water to the Grand Union Canal and its town arms to Wendover and Aylesbury. It is known to be one of the best spots to sit and watch birds, along with the clear water which attracts plants, fish and insects. A perfect place for someone who is a fan of nature and bird watching.
Pick up some local produce from ‘Beechwood Fine Foods’ in Tring for a picnic by the reservoir where you can be surrounded by beautiful scenery and wildlife after a leisurely stroll. Or how about staying the night at Wingbury Farm, a glamping spot which is a perfect family get-away. Nestled in the Buckinghamshire countryside this camping experience is one with a touch of glamour!
Weston Turville Reservoir
Another beautiful reservoir is in Weston Turville. The oasis of water is surrounded by Buckinghamshire countryside, woods and wildlife. A fantastic place for family walks and spotting local wildlife. Weston Turville Reservoir was opened in 1979 to compensate local millers for the loss of water diverted away from their mills to the canal. As well as walking or running around the ½ mile reservoir, you can join the Aylesbury Sailing club and learn how to sail a dinghy.
The Canal River Trust
The Canal and River Trust are a charity, here to protect over 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales. They’re custodians of a rich, living history but we look forwards to a brighter, better future too. On the water, on foot, on a bike, with friends or on your own, everyone should have a good place to go.