23.0 miles – Still-brooding, English-summer-grey skies, warm, close
GRAND UNION CANAL
The Grand Union and Stratford-upon-Avon Canals come within a quarter of a mile of each other. The two are connected with a short stretch of canal at Kingswood Junction.
The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal
The prettiest of the five canals I have been walking these three days was undoubtedly the stratford-upon-Avon Canal, with its dome-roofed lock gate cottages and its black-and-white criss cross bridges – they clearly used to open once upon a time to allow (I’m guessing) the masts of sailing barges to pass through. The land is now gently undulating and it’s definitely rural.
I have no regrets whatever about choosing canals to guide me between long-distance paths; they are gentle on the eye, have some examples of lovely architecture, delightfully slow-moving, easy to follow, and they allowed me to cover lots of ground (50 miles in the last two days alone). I bade them a fond farewell.
It had been a bit of a race against time all day, but I made it to the youth hostel at Alveston by four thirty. I was ready to sleep, but instead made haste to do my laundry, shower, and eat before going out to the theatre. I just couldn’t go to stratford and not see Shakespeare.
How strange it felt leaving the world of walking and entering my old world of the theatre. Not knowing Richard III, nor having studied that period in history, I couldn’t keep up with all the plotting and conspiracy, but I was captivated by the human aspect of the drama. It was mostly a young cast, and it was good to see young actors having a chance to practice their art (I remember how hard it was to get chances to hone my craft of opera singing when I was in my 20s).