The AtHome Pilgrim

Musings at a Slower Pace


Philly area, Pennsylvania, USA
"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita," I find myself still asking some of the same questions I did when I was just a punk kid. The Big Things confuse me. Fortunately, though, many little things delight and amuse me, and some Big Things--my wife, our kids, our bird and bunny visitors, food, baseball--make me very, very happy. In my pilgrimage, I try to be guided by the wisdom of dear old Auntie Mame: "Life is a banquet!"


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APRIL 22, 2012 11:22AM

Further Strolls Along the Delaware Canal

Rate: 10 Flag

Over the last few weekends, Mrs. P and I have continued our excursions along the Delaware Canal and have now covered nearly a quarter of its length (twice, since each trip is up and back to wherever we’ve parked). (My first post on the Canal, from mid-March, is here.)

We’ve been noting how the canal changes character as we move along it, the steep drop from the towpath to the river north of the second, more northern, Washington Crossing State Park; the towpath significantly narrowing as we came into and walked through the river town of New Hope; the disappearance of water in that town; the short sections where, surprisingly, cars are allowed on the towpath; the water’s reappearance farther north,; the answer to the mystery of what happened to the canal ride barges; different sights along the river; and the different ways homeowners on the berm bank have planted their gardens—and portions of the canal. 

South of Washington Crossing, we came across one of the old locks, which suggests how narrow the canalboats were.  




Between Washington Crossing and New Hope, the towpath seems to tower over the steep bank leading to the river below. 


Canal-steep riverbank   


While the canal is full of water south of New Hope,  


Canal-canal with water   


that water disappears in the town and for a couple of miles to the north. We were surprised, as we remembered a couple of times taking one of the mule-barge canal excursions that used to run out of New Hope along to the canal to the north. But no barge could get through this dry canal bed choked with the remains of last year’s bullrushes. 




Even more surprising, though, was seeing a car on the canal. There is a cluster of homes between the canal and the river that rely on the towpath to move between them and the roads. 


Canal-car on canal   


Well north of New Hope, thicker woods west of the canal allow moisture to collect and pool, and the canal has water again—though not as deep as farther south. (The current storm passing through the area is likely to change that.) 


  Canal-water returns  


In Center Bridge, we found those excursion barges we’d ridden years ago. Like photos of ships abandoned on the former shores of the drying, shrinking Aral Sea, they are immobile, useless with naught but land beneath them.




From time to time we looked east to the river. This first view is what appears to be an old mill over in New Jersey. The second is what looks like a wooden version of the Headless Horseman. The third is not suddenly nearer New Jersey but Hendrick’s Island, which fills much of the river in this section. 


Canal-old mill   




Canal-Hendricks island   


Some parts of the canal have homes on the western, berm, bank. There are quaint little country houses, Italianate palazzo, traditional Delaware Valley stone farmhouses, and modern adaptations of the traditional look. There are even cleverly built treehouses—and birdhouses.  


Canal-yellow cape   




Canal-stone farmhouse  


Canal-modern stone   






Homeowners have given themselves gardens both park-like and formal. North of New Hope, ferns become a popular planting.  


Canal-parklike garde   


Canal-garden formal   




Several homeowners plant flowers along the towpath or the river so that, when they look out their back windows or sit on their patios, they can see bright, cheery faces and the river beyond. In one section, the towpath was flanked by two carpets of blue.  




Canal-blue edged path  


We have also seen subtle changes in foliage as the Delaware Valley has settled more fully and comfortably into spring, early daffodils giving way to bluebells and lilacs and wisteria; early violet gems now being joined by May apples and other, unknown, wildflowers.  








Canal-May apples 


Canal-violet gems   


Canal-wildflowers to be   


Canal-lavender and yellow   


Even the humble dandelion becomes beautiful in its spheroid perfection, if you give it a chance.  




We’ve seen a few creatures, or seen their footprints—and heard but not photographed hundreds of tuneful songbirds.  




Canal-Canada geese  






Canal-deer footprints   


And always, always, our eyes are drawn to the trees. But, you know, that will have to be another post.  



Words and pictures © 2012 AtHome Pilgrim. 

All Rights Reserved.

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What a magnificent pictorial walk down the canal path, Pilgrim! There's so much to enjoy and savour in your post. Did you see my earlier post on birdhouses designed by a native Delawarian? And lilacs? They are still a far away dream here. Thank you for this treat.
I love a wonderful Sunday stroll, especially to a place I have never been.
What a treat to share this walk with you.
rated with love
What a lovely place to walk! Looking forward to more.
Thanks for sharing the lovely sights along your canal. We're along an old tow path here too; the site of the first Welland Canal, an important gateway for shipping built in the mid-1800's. You've inspired me (perhaps, on a sunnier day) to take some pics to share.
That is one seriously beautiful walk. Looking through your photos, I'm amazed that we live in the same country -- what you see on your walks is so different from what I see on mine!
I would love to be walking beside you two! This is such a beautiful place I loved every picture more than the last. To be able to live in one of those homes...sigh...
Gorgeous walk route, especially as it greens up. We are a little bit behind you here, not quite so green, but today I got to see bees! Looking forward to the pending tree post.
Gee, I like going on a stroll with you and Mrs P! I enjoyed each and every tidbit here. The countryside is something so very different to mine. Beautiful photos, Mr P ... every single one absolutely enjoyed by me!

Thank you.
My goodness, what a beautiful job you did with this. It made me want to pack my car and head out to take a look at this myself. Thanks.
lovely lovely watery green place, pilgrim. i spooked at mr. headless and cooed at the turtle and the birdhouse and the lilacs. i like your canal in this springing season, yes, i do.
I needed to be by water this weekend. Lovely to come home and be by water here. Canals were a memory part of this weekend. Lovely to follow this one with you.
I have missed your calming nature observations. I don't think I've ever seen so much greenery in my entire urban life.