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Aylesbury by Canal - a haven of tranquility

The Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal: A Haven of Tranquillity in the Heart of Buckinghamshire

The Grand Union Canal, a waterway steeped in history and heritage, is the longest in the United Kingdom. Spanning over 137 miles from London to Birmingham, it boasts numerous branches, including the charming Aylesbury Arm [1].

A Brief History

Aylesbury Basin with the former power station building.

The Aylesbury Arm is a broad 6.25-mile branch of the Grand Union Canal, which diverts at Marsworth, near Tring, in Hertfordshire, and ends in the picturesque market town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire [2].

The idea of the Aylesbury Arm was born in the early 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution, when canals played a crucial role in transporting goods across the country. It was formally opened in 1815, offering an efficient route for moving goods such as hay, straw, flour, and coal from Aylesbury to London and beyond [3].

Unique Features

One of the striking features of the Aylesbury Arm is its 16 locks, which are uniquely narrow compared to the broad locks seen on the main line of the Grand Union Canal. Only seven feet wide, these locks lend a distinct character to the Aylesbury Arm[^2^].

The canal also provides a rich habitat for a variety of wildlife. Along the canal, you can spot various species of birds, water voles, and even the occasional muntjac deer. The vegetation along the canal is diverse, too, with various trees, shrubs, and wildflowers found along the banks [4].

Modern Use and Tourism

Today, the Aylesbury Arm is a popular destination for leisure activities such as walking, cycling, fishing, and boating. The towpath, which runs alongside the canal, is well-maintained and provides an excellent route for those exploring the local countryside [5].

At the end of the canal, Aylesbury Basin has been transformed into a vibrant waterfront area, complete with residential properties, shops, and restaurants. The basin also hosts the Aylesbury Canal Society, dedicated to preserving and promoting the canal [6].

One of the annual highlights of the Aylesbury Arm is the Canal Festival, which brings a flurry of activity and colour to the waterway. The festival features an array of decorated boats, craft stalls, live music, and entertainment, drawing locals and visitors alike [7].

Aylesbury basin today.

Conclusion - a grand day out

The Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal, with its rich history, unique features, and scenic beauty, is a gem in the heart of Buckinghamshire. Whether you're interested in history, wildlife, outdoor activities, or just a peaceful walk along the water's edge, the Aylesbury Arm has something to offer.

So, the next time you're in the area, take a moment to explore this charming waterway. You'll be stepping back into history and enjoying some of the finest scenery in the region at the same time.

Postscript: Explore the Aylesbury Arm on a Narrowboat and stay overnight with Narrowboat Day Hire.

For those who would like to experience the Aylesbury Arm first-hand, we at Narrowboat Day Hire offer you a unique opportunity. Based at CowRoast Marina, we have two narrowboats available for hire. Our boats are well-equipped and maintained to the highest standards, ensuring your canal journey will be comfortable, safe, and enjoyable.

We're particularly thrilled about Lavender's new possibilities for our fleet. Designed with 2-person overnight capabilities, Lavender offers a unique and extended adventure on the waterways. You can now embark on a memorable two-day journey, setting off from CowRoast and descending the seven-lock flight at Marsworth, leading you to the vibrant Aylesbury Basin, the canal's terminus.

This expanded experience allows you to fully immerse yourself in the canal's tranquillity and the surrounding landscape's beauty. After a peaceful night on board Lavender, nestled in the Aylesbury Basin, you can leisurely navigate back to CowRoast the following day, creating a truly unforgettable canal adventure.

Whether you're an experienced boater or a novice looking for a new adventure, our friendly team is on hand to provide comprehensive guidance and support. By exploring the Aylesbury Arm on one of our narrowboats, you can immerse yourself in the tranquillity and beauty of the canal at your own pace. Visit our website at for more information and to book your unforgettable canal adventure.


[1]: Nicholson (2013). Nicholson Guides Vol 1: Grand Union, Oxford & the South East. HarperCollins UK.

[2]: Cumberlidge (2009). Inland Waterways of Great Britain. Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson.

[3]: Hadfield, C. (1985). The Canals of the East Midlands (including part of London). David & Charles.

[4]: Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Northamptonshire (2022). Canals and River Navigations.

[5]: Canal & River Trust (2023)

[6]: Aylesbury Canal Society (2023). History and Activities of the Aylesbury Canal Society. Retrieved from:

[7]: Aylesbury Vale District Council (2023). Annual Canal Festival. Retrieved from:

To learn more about the Aylesbury Arm, consult the excellent article at Tring History.

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