When I was out walking the other day, I came across this lovely angle, where the Grand Union Canal crosses the railway track.
Initially, I thought of Frost’s “two roads diverged in a yellow wood”, but that wasn’t quite right, as there were no steps down to the train line so I had to keep following the towpath, whether I wanted to or not.
A train went by, under the canal, and I got to thinking about where all the passengers had come from and where they were heading, which was more like The Pedlar’s Caravan:
Where he comes from nobody knows,
Or where he goes to, but on he goes!
The train rushed quickly out of sight, but I was struck by what a lovely little microcosm of communications I had found: within a stone’s throw of where I took the picture, it’s all bridges and aqueducts looping and linking at all different levels.
The canal had passed over a river a short way back; on either side of the railway there are footpaths that lead off across the fields; just beyond the photo’s left-hand edge, there is a footbridge over the track; and a bit farther ahead there is a bridge that takes the main road over the canal.
The ways in the photo are presumably on foot, by boat or by train, although I had to keep stepping aside to let cyclists pass on the tow-path and, once upon a time, I suppose, there must have been horses, pulling the barges. If it had been the Shropshire Canal, perhaps the ghost of “Captain Webb the Dawley man”, would have appeared, but the only swimmers I saw were ducks.
The general impression, then, was one of communication and connection, but that isn’t really the whole truth, as there are lots of places where the different ways cross at different levels, with no access between them.
There are plenty of railings, walls and fences, too, as well as places where man and nature have decided to join forces to block the way.