Escape to Little Venice – London’s Hidden Waterway

Escape to Little Venice – London’s Hidden Waterway

Escape to one of London’s best kept secret waterways : Little Venice.

Just north of Paddington, this picturesque pool of water where the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals meet, is home to a number of waterside cafes, pubs and eateries. From here you can take a boat trip or follow the tow path on foot and see how the winding waterway snakes its way through the heart of the city.

You can head downstream past the charming regency streets of Madia Vale and on to Regent’s Park and Camden beyond, or follow this peaceful corridor upstream to the west and enjoy the tranquillity of the waterways that feel like a million miles from the hubbub of the roads and streets nearby.

You can either walk or take a boat up the canal, with several operators offering guided boat or walking tours. Two of the better boat operators are the London Waterbus Company and Jason’s Canal Trip. The walk up the entire canal is eight and a half miles, but a good appetizer is to walk the two miles from Little Venice to Camden Lock, which should take you about an hour.

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Beginning at Little Venice, the canal wends its way past the striking aviary of London Zoo (designed by Lord Snowden) and the outskirts of Regent’s Park, before ending in the bohemian area of Camden Lock, known for its street markets and hippy chic.

On the way, look out for Macclesfield Bridge, more commonly called “Blow up Bridge”. In 1874 a barge carrying gun-powder exploded as it passed under the bridge, destroying the structure and killing three crewmen. The bridge was reconstructed, but the imposing Doric columns were put back the wrong way around. At Lisson Grove, there is an interesting mooring site for houseboats, which will give you a chance to study the traditional iron-bottomed narrow boats used for transport in the old days. Some of these have been restored and display traditional crafts and decorations.

If you have children, they may enjoy visiting the Puppet Theatre Barge at Little Venice, which stages traditional puppet shows on board a houseboat. Or if you can’t get enough of the canals, visit the London Canal Museum. Here you can see inside a narrow boat cabin, learn about the history of London’s canals, and find out more about the people who lived and worked on the waterways.

You can also see a huge Victorian ice well used to store ice imported from Norway and transported up the canal. The museum is housed in a former ice warehouse built in 1862 for Carlo Gatti, the famous ice cream maker.

Nearest underground station: Warwick Avenue

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