Regent’s Canal may be one of the capital’s most underrated attractions despite offering a great way of discover the real London.
The waterway is 8.6 miles in length and links the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal, just north-west of Paddington Basin in the west, to the Limehouse Basin and the River Thames in east London.
Strangely, the canal was almost a turned into a railway in 1845, when a group of businessmen sought to build on the banks of the waterway. Luckily, they didn’t succeed and the canal is now home to a wide variety of communities.
Highlights include the delightful collection of narrowboats at the Little Venice basin in Maida Vale in Regent’s Park, the quirky Camden market and the London Zoo aviary.
The history of Regent’s Canal
Architect John Nash was responsible for the design of the canal built in 1812 and he aimed to create a waterway that would allow barges to move through the centre of the capital.
The canal was completed in 1820, but unfortunately it never realised its full potential as an industrial route, because the railway age started. However, it did play a key, but limited, role in transporting timber, coal and building materials in and out of London before eventually regular long-distance traffic was ceased in the 1960s.
However, a new purpose for the canal was created in 1979 when the British Waterways Board granted permission for electricity to be laid below the towpath between City Road and St John’s Wood. The water from the canal is used to keep the high voltage National Grids cool.
Take a boat on the canal
One of the great attractions of the Regent’s Canal is that it offers a great way of seeing a unique view of London. For experienced boaters, you can even take a longer trip with the canal joining the River Thames Limehouse Lock or the Thames Lock at Brentford.
There are plenty of companies that offer waterbus trips along some sections of the canal from Little Venice to Camden Lock Market. A one-way trip takes around 50 minutes.
With guides on board, travellers can also learn all about the role of waterways in London and the UK. You could also head to the London Canal Museum and discover even more about the importance the canal has in the history of the capital.
The very active can even embark on a kayak tour of Regent’s Canal – remember you need to be reasonable fit as you will need to paddle around 8 miles along the waterway.
If you prefer drier activities then the Regent’s Canal provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy some cycling or walking.
The towpaths along the canal pass through many of the capital’s green spaces such as Regent’s Park and Victoria Park.
Park Grand London Paddington Hotel is located on 16 min walking distance from Regent Canal (3.3 miles)