Canal Walk #4 – Camden Town To Little Venice

Continuing my occasional series of walks along London’s extensive canal network, earlier today I ventured along the stretch of the Regent’s Canal between Camden Town and Little Venice, where it connects with the Grand Union Canal’s Paddington Arm that eventually joins the main canal network a further thirteen or so miles away.

This is definitely the most picturesque of the canal routes through London – shortly after leaving Camden Town behind the towpath passes underneath the aviaries of ZSL London Zoo on the edge of Regent’s Park. After that you get to see the back gardens of the huge mansions of St John’s Wood and Maida Vale – and huge is the word. Some of these Georgian buildings are the size of stately homes, and most – as far as I can see – are single family homes. The streets surrounding them are jammed with Range Rovers, Porsche Panameras and all sorts of exotic, high-end vehicles…

As you head towards Little Venice there are two rather less monied communities to navigate – the narrowboats of the Lisson Grove and Bloomfield Road Moorings. You can walk through the former as it is runs along the main towpath of the canal, but the latter is gated (just like the big houses on all sides!).

As this article on the London Canals website indicates, Little Venice has always been a place of contrasts – it recounts that for many years the poor boatmen of London resented the fact that wealthy homeowners surrounded them on every side. It also appears from the piece that it is Lord Byron who gave the area its rather romantic name…

Today it’s a charming section of the canal, and there are plenty of spots where you can sit down and watch the sight-seeing boats pass by (Little Venice is home to two companies that offer competing trips along the canal as far as Camden Lock). I should also mention the very reasonably-priced fare available at the Waterside Cafe which occupies a permanently moored barge on one side of the basin, and where I took my ease after that long stroll. If you’re around later in the day, you’ll also discover that the area is home to not one but two waterborne theatres – the Puppet Theatre barge and the Canal Cafe Theatre.

Wish me luck on my next trip – I doubt that traipsing along the industrial section of the canal to Southall is going to be anywhere near as pleasant as the two miles or so between Camden Town and Little Venice!