Every day I have the privilege of walking through Little Venice on my way to work. It is a great place to take a wander, and connects to my favourite stretch of canal which runs from Camden, in North London, to Little Venice and Paddington in West London. Join me as I take a walk along the Regents Canal from Camden to Little Venice.
- 1 Why Do I Love the Regents Canal from Camden to Little Venice?
- 2 Camden – The Start
- 3 The First Stretch – Camden Realness
- 4 The Second Stretch – ZSL
- 5 The Third Stretch -Mansion Row
- 6 The Fourth Stretch – Lisson Grove Mooring
- 7 The Fifth Stretch – Where is the Canal?
- 8 The Sixth Stretch – Little Venice
- 9 The Last Stretch – Paddington Basin
- 10 The End – Paddington
- 11 Don’t fancy walking Regents Canal from Camden to Little Venice?
- 12 Where to Next?
- 13 Final Thoughts
Why Do I Love the Regents Canal from Camden to Little Venice?
There are lots of walks in London, you can pound the streets or stroll through surprising amounts of green space, but I love this walk for three reasons.
- It is a nice length. You can complete the walk in an hour if you walk at a good clip, or you take your time and fill three leisurely hours.
- It is pretty hard to get lost. I like walking along the water’s edge because water is nice and relaxing, and you can’t really stray off the path without getting severely soggy!
- There is a nice variety of things to see en route. Read on to see what is along the canal.
Camden – The Start
Our walk begins in Camden, Camden Lock to be precise. This is bang smack in the middle of the busiest bit of this bustling shopping area. You can stop to look around the world famous market or head straight down on to the tow path. To reach Camden, you can take either branch of London Underground’s Northern Line, or one of many buses. Just check TFL’s website for the best route option.
Walking down from the high street, you will pass through kerb, the canal side food market. I passed food from all over the world. Thai, Indian, Greek, English, and American stalls compete for the passing lunch trade. There isn’t quite enough seating when it is busy so if you are hungry, why not pick something up and eat it further along the route? It can be a little overcrowded but the path soon opens upas tourists in Camden rarely walk very far away from the lock.
The First Stretch – Camden Realness
Heading North, on the right hand side of the Canal, you are still very aware of being around Camden. The first couple of bridges smell a little like the revelry of the night before, but just don’t breath in too strongly and hurry through. Graffiti and street art covers the walls, some great artistic endeavors and some mindless scribbling. It would be good for the council to let the real street artists create something beautiful here. Camden has a reputation for being a bit gritty and this stretch is a bit rough around the edges. Keep plodding through and you will be in a nicer area very shortly.
The Second Stretch – ZSL
Up ahead you will see a high, Victorian bridge. This is part of Regent’s Park.
If you hear odd grunts, whines and snorts, don’t worry, it isn’t scary people hiding in the bushes. You are, in fact, walking right past ZSL London Zoo. The bridge actually connects the two halves of the zoo. On your right hand side you will see a strange angular construction. Keep your eyes peeled and may see elegant white birds swooping through it. This is the Snowdon Aviary. When it was built in 1962, it was the very first walk through aviary in the world, a trend that caught on quickly. There are rumours that it will be converted into a monkey house in the future. Either way, watch those trees for some animal antics.
Slowly plodding along, it can be easy to forget that you are in London. Listen carefully and you will hear the gentle roar of the roads, but it is pretty easy to ignore most of the time. I like to have music, or an audiobook in one ear when i am walking alone. It keeps me company but the other ear is still enjoying the birds and water sounds.
The Third Stretch -Mansion Row
This is where big money lives. It is hard not to be impressed by the huge houses you will be passing. Most are across the canal but there is one lovely garden on your right. Don’t even THINK about wandering in.
These all look pretty classical but they were designed and built between 1980 and 2004 by architect Quinlan Terry. I have always been captivated by them and wondered who lives in places like this. They have such a wonderful location, and gorgeous gardens, However, although I have walked past on many a sunny day but I have never seen anyone out in the garden sunbathing.
You may start to imagine yourself in one of these magnificent piles, but you will get a very rude, very industrial awakening. Just as the huge houses come to an end, this mouldy bridge is waiting to bring you back to reality.
The Fourth Stretch – Lisson Grove Mooring
The residents of those big mansions may think that they “live on the canal”. That is all very well and good, but here, in the Lisson Grove Mooring, you will find the people that actually live ON the canal. This is a neighbourhood of canal boats, lined up with their noses poking out in to the canal at a right angles.
The path here is quite tight and you need to look out for the road humps. You can’t cycle through this section.
It is lovely to see all the different boats, see their names and how they have set up home. On a sunny day (and boy, was my last walk sunny) it seems like an incredibly idyllic way to live.
The Fifth Stretch – Where is the Canal?
Say goodbye to the canal for a moment. Don’t worry, we will see it again. Just after Lisson Grove Mooring, you need to take the path up to the right. When you reach the top, cross the road diagonally to the right and you will see the canal again below you. You can cross left and just walk along the streets but this is my preferred route due to the two refreshment options that it offers.
Through the small housing estate you will pop out on to Aberdeen Place. On the corner is the Crockers Folly pub. It has great cocktails, and a surprisingly good Lebanese menu. The interiors are stunningly lavish. I’m talking chandeliers and marble. Just gorgeous.
Keep heading south-west along the road, until you come to a large road. Here is another great place to stop for lunch or a quick drink. Cafe Laville is an Italian perched on the edge of the bridge, overlooking the canal…oh there it is! It is reasonably priced considering the location; not a bargain, but not a rip-off. The windows are all opened up in summer to create a terrace, and closed up to create a light, warm space in winter.
The Sixth Stretch – Little Venice
Walk along the right hand side of the cafe, along Blomfield Road. You are approaching Little Venice and so you will see lots more permanently moored boats with cute little gardens, just over the fence, You have a couple of choices when you reach Little Venice but I prefer to walk straight under the bridge and make my way around two sides of the triangle. There is a gorgeous island in the middle with a weeping willow bowing it’s head over the water.
You traverse the first side and then it is up and over the bridge, coming down just next to the floating Waterside Cafe. This always has the whiff of greasy spoon cafe about it. We have now met up with my morning commute, and I can’t tell you how tempting it is to sit here and indulge when I am a little hungover.
You will pass the waterbus stop. This is where you could catch a canal boat back along to Camden. Remember those leftovers? If there are any ducks or swans here, you can give them a little snack.
Keep walking and you will then take a right, under a bridge with a bubble barrier, and in to the Paddington basin.
The Last Stretch – Paddington Basin
The curve of the Westway looms above you, but they have made great efforts to make this area as nice as possible. Flower boxes burst with colour and there are plenty of fancy modern restaurants although most are a little dull. Notable exceptions are:
- The London Shell Co, a barge serving up excellent seafood. This is static for most lunches, but also plies the waters between here and Camden with a fishy set menu.
- Check out whether Pergola is open. This is a very hipster, very awesome combination of food pop up, bar and hang out space, Last time I went, I had delicious ramen, mexican snacks and one too many cocktails. There are several food outlets, the main bar and large communal tables. This means everyone can have what they want, and still eat together.
- Finally, is floating bar and restaurant Darcie and May Green. These guys make a mean espresso martini! The menu is heavily influenced by Aussie classics, especially at brunch and lunch time.
Admire the art, stop for refreshment, play a little table tennis or simply wander by.
The End – Paddington
And so we come to Paddington station. There are some stairs on your right which will lead down to both the Underground (for the Circle and Hammersmith lines) or along to your left and down one level, the national rail and underground station (for the Bakerloo and Circle and District lines). The station itself has a cute Paddington Bear statue, a war memorial on platform one, and a brass band that plays for a couple of hours on a Friday evening. Realistically you will be rushing off to catch a train or bus, but if you have time, hunt them out.
Don’t fancy walking Regents Canal from Camden to Little Venice?
There are a few other ways to travel along the canal.
- First things first, I don’t recommend cycling. There are countless times that you to dismoun and the path gets quite narrow in some spots. Plus, you would be from one end to other so quickly that it may not seem worth it.
- The Waterbus – London Waterbus Company plies the canal from Caden to little Venuce and back again for as much of the year as they can manage. The whole route takes just under an hour and they even have a stop at London Zoo. Just pay for your ticket on the boat and they will drop you off. It is a very civilised way to arrive. Check out their website for times and prices here.
- Paddle boarding, probably the world’s fastest growing sport, is now in London! Active360 runs stand up paddle boarding trips along the canal from it’s Paddington Basin location. During my recent canal trip, I was walking alongside a paddle boarding group and they were having a wonderful, relaxing time. It seemed pretty tempting…but my balance is shocking! If you fancy giving it a go, check out Active360’s website.
- Kayaking – If you want to see the canal from swan-eye view, join a kayaking tour. Some go one way, some return to the original spot. AThere are too many to pick one company. Just google it and find the one that suits you best. One word of advice, even if you don”t capsize, you will always end up a little soggy after kayaking so bring a spare change of bottoms!
- There are a few other options, floating bars, floating hot tubs etc Get on google and see what you can hunt out.
Where to Next?
If you have really go the walking bug, there are two ways to extend this walk. You can either:
- Carry on in the same direction, past St Mary’s hospital and turn right at Sussex Gardens. This leads you down to Hyde Park by the Italian garden. You can then wander this huge park to your heart’s content.
- Take a right at Little Venice and walk along the Union Canal. This heads through West London and varies from the downright gross and industrial, to terribly quaint. You will never be too far from public transport so just jump on a bus when you get tired.
I didn’t really know what to say here, so let it be this.
Walking is nice.
This route is easy.
I wish there was an ice-cream van half way along.