Water is a preeminent feature in the Cotswolds and a big part if its charm. Locals, tourists and hikers alike enjoy walking the banks of the Thames, the Windrush or the Severn and there is nothing like a river walk followed by a pub lunch with an aquatic view.
Then there is also the Oxford Canal, part of the Grand Union Canal that goes from London to Birmingham and which is a popular Sunday walk throughout the region. For a less crowded option than the Oxford to Port Meadows canal walk (worth it as well), I chose a circular walk starting in Enslow (at the Rock of Gibraltar pub), following the canal for around 3 miles, going towards the village of Tackley at the 3 miles mark before looping back to Enslow (about 8 miles in total).
Water is supposed to be calming but that day, it was anything but. The first incident that occurred was of the avian type, with a swan attacking a duckling while its mother was watching powerlessly. In the end, the swan left but the duckling was in a sorry state and I doubt it survived. I’m no Richard Attenborough so I have no idea why the swan suddenly decided to attack the duckling given that this was a lone swan with no babies but if someone has an idea, do get in touch. Wildlife being pretty and also pretty rough occupied my thoughts but my eyes were still able to feast on the reflection of the sky and bushes in the water.
The second incident was of the human type with a barge stuck at the Pigeon Lock. The doors of the lock didn’t open wide enough for this big barge to pass through and despite our tucking and pushing, they refused to budge. The water and rust had had their ways with the heavy wooden lock doors in this other pretty rough nature episode.
I enjoy walking the canal. I can see the appeal of going for longer and rambling from London to Birmingham while visiting places of interest along the way. The slow pace seems like the perfect antidote to our overstimulated brains and lives and if I were a doctor, I would prescribe it over any antidepressant. Canal walks of England, here’s to you.