Brent Cyclists' ride to Rickmansworth via the Grand Union canal took place on Sunday 22 July 2012, a beautiful day with wall-to-wall sunshine. There were seven riders. There could have been eight, but one man got ahead of the leader from the word "go", darted through Kingsbury Circle, and was last seen by observers going up and down Kenton Road, though we never met up with him again – a cautionary tale.
This ride sometimes goes through Ruislip Woods, but recent rain had made the bridleway muddy, so the woods were avoided. On the edge of Ruisilp the miles of Tudorbethan suburbia experienced through Brent, Harrow and Hillingdon suddenly give way to the woods and rolling fields of the Colne Valley. Lunch was taken at the Horse and Barge, a jolly place by the canal at Denham, and the group paused to observe a youth group putting two barges through Stocker's Lock. I had never realised that narrowboats could go through two at a time. Many owners of more static barges had gardened the verges of the canal into beautiful follower displays. These are completely different every year, with different weird and wonderful ornaments. At the Aquadrome nature reserve, after getting through the one awkward gate on the ride, tea and ice creams were sampled at the busy café.
At Stocker's Lock
Ancient tools for the waterway
At Batchworth near Rickmansworth we abandoned the canal, which would otherwise take one to Watford, and, to avoid the only "legal" way of escaping from that point, the deeply-unpleasant for cycling A404, we navigated across the magnificent Moor Park Golf Course and into the select private estate of Moor Park. Though the option was offered to return by Metropolitan line from there, most riders opted to continue cycling all the way back, which included a climb of the amazingly steep Hillside Gardens, Northwood, with view from the top as far as the City. Through Pinner, and the Woodlands Open Space provided a surprisingly efficient, hidden green route to North Harrow. We then retraced our outward route back to Kingsbury, arriving on a very warm evening about 6:30pm.
Summit of Hillside Gardens
Brent Cyclists Co-ordinator