Nestled in London you will find the hidden gem of Little Venice, a beautiful area and perfect for taking a relaxing canal boat up to Camden Town.
There are a variety of boat trips that you can take, we took the London Waterbus Company from Little Venice to Camden Market and then on our return we went on Jason’s boat, the trip takes approximately 45 minutes each way.
The London Waterbus Company has a traditional narrowboat with large slide to open windows, with a friendly knowledgeable crew providing a good sightseeing talk.
Jason’s canal boat is open sided but can be more enclosed to provide protection if needed. The boat is steeped in history and now has a diesel engine to power it rather than the horses that once would have pulled it. With the friendly crew providing a sightseeing talk from Little Venice to Camden but no commentary on the Camden to Little Venice (although you can request if you would like).
The canal boat trip will take you on a leisurely journey through some iconic landmarks, The 248 meter Maida Hill Tunnel into Little Venice, Regents Park & London Zoo, Cumberland Basin & Primrose Hill and Camden Market.
As you drift through the canal at London Zoo you might catch a glimpse of a warthog or African wild hunting dog. You will also see the zoo’s Snowdon Aviary is currently being renovated to accommodate the zoos Columbus monkeys and African parrots’ walk-through exhibit, so I’m sure in the future you might see some and hear some during your trip.
There are many magnificent mansions along the canal bank with stunning landscaped gardens including that of Grove House designed by Decimus Burton and built by James Burton.
Every section of the journey is different from the modern graffiti, bridges, the power station and the nature living in and along the canal.
A brief history
The Regents Canal opened in 1820 linking the Grand Union Canal at Little Venice and the River Thames at Lighthouse. The Regent Canal completed a link that enabled canal boats to go all around England including major trade hubs in Birmingham and Manchester.
As the transportation system changed over time the use of canal boats for moving goods dramatically declined, they became neglected and saw little use by anyone. These canals are now flourishing with people using them for all different purposes. There are water sports companies like The Pirate Castle are utilising the canal for kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing. Beautiful old canal boats are being renovated for living in and being used to provide leisure trips to locals and tourists. There is also a selection of canal boats being utilised for dining, including The Grand Duchess.
Things to Do
At Camden Lock you can explore the famous Camden Market, set in a former warehouse, now offering a delightful selection of street food from all corners of the world alongside a selection of shops and market stalls selling all sorts of wares from vintage items to handmade goods. If you venture further into Camden Town along the High Street, you will find the buildings covered in bold art and signs, they are truly wonderful to see with even the big brands joining in with the local art vibe. You could also check out the Buck Street Market which is a new Eco-Focused Market.
At Little Venice you could treat yourself to a tea or coffee at the Floating Boater Café which is based in the same area where the tour boats leave from. Or Maybe book for a show on The Puppet Theatre Barge which is currently at Little Venice from 11th September – 7th November 2021. You could also take the short walk along the canal towards Paddington where you will find some wonderful, converted canal boats offering food and drink including, The Darcie & May Green, The Cheese Barge and The Grand Duchess. There are also other restaurant and drinks options along the bankside like Zizzi and The Union Paddington.
If you are looking for somewhere in London a little different to explore, steeped in history with a mix of modern then head up to explore the Little Venice and Camden Market areas.
Perfect for children – download your very own free local map and sight spotting list here.
Canal Boats Tours & Hire
Go Boats – You can hire these from Paddington a great fun experience where you can captain your own boat. There are several locations that you can hire a GOBOAT including Paddington where you could explore the section of the Regents Canal between Paddington and Camden whilst enjoying your very own picnic on board.