London Stories and Tips

Canalboats and giraffes - The Regents Canal Towpath Walk

A good place for a book on a summers day Photo, London, England

One of the most enchanting walks in London is from Little Venice all the way to Camden Market along the towpath of the Regents Canal. This is a city built for aimlessly walking. Sydney may have the sunshine but you can walk across its centre in 3 minutes. This walk will take you the best part of an afternoon and you will pass Baroque mansions, colourful canalboats, as well as giraffes, camels and zebras.

To reach it come out of Paddington Station and head north, taking the underpass under the Westway to the periphery of St Johns Wood and Little Venice . This was a phrase coined by the poet Robert Browning to describe the area. The Regents Canal opens up into a basin overlooking by Georgian and Victorian houses. The basin sports flower-strewn gardens and in its centre is a willow covered island providing refuge for waterfowl. The narrowboats themselves are very colourful and are usually inhabited (they aren't that expensive, about £30,000)and each Spring Bank Holiday the Canal cavalcade is held where narrowboats from all over England congregate for a festival.

Heading east takes you along the canal where the narrow boats are so packed together it resembles Amsterdam. Then across Maida Vale Road and along Aberdeen Place and past the pub down to the Regents Canal. A staircase descends to the canal bank where for the next two miles there is a pleasant walk to Regents Park where you can observe life on the river and watch the boats ply up and down. The banks of the canalbank are lined with trees and greenery and fisherman share the water with ducks and canalboats. On a summers day it is charming to walk along and see the residents sunbathing or enjoying a glass of wine.

Passing under a number of bridges you will arrive where the Regents canal slices into northern Regents Park and its grand baroque mansions. Nearby London zoo is cut in half by the Regents canal so you can have a free look at the animals without leaving its banks. Canal boats chug up and down looking at the giraffes and camels on the south bank and the vast expanse of the Snowdon aviary on the north. This aviary is huge and allows storks and ibis' to fly around.

Under a few more bridges and you are approaching the fun bedlam of Camden Market. The music from buskers is the first indication that it is not far away. And . Camden Lock itself is a sight to see and is a series of gates modifying water levels on the canal so that boats can pass up and down. . And when you have tired of the market tickets can be bought from the Lock Keepers cottage for canal boats to take you back to Little Venice.

All in all, an enjoyable walk, especially in the summer. But the highlight for me is peeking at other peoples lives living in the narrowboats and wondering how they manage to get power for their televisions without electricity.

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