Over Christmas we were in the company of some people who had seen one of the TV programmes featuring the Regents Canal. They were telling others about the “hidden canal” through London. After a while we joined the conversation, partly to correct something they were saying and also to agree that the Regents Canal certainly is a memorable canal journey.
Having covered the Regents Canal on a number of occasions, we are always interested in seeing new aspects, especially as our routes generally take us on a clockwise journey from Little Venice down to Limehouse.
The waterway was constructed with the first stretch from Little Venice to Camden opening in 1816 (200 years this year). The remainder of the canal down to Limehouse opened 4 years later. A little known fact is that some of the soil excavated in its construction was used in the making of nearby Lords Cricket Ground.
Not long after leaving Little Venice the canal meanders through London Zoo and Regents Park where if you are lucky you may be able to see some animals. The tunnels along the Regents include the Maida Vale Tunnel at 272 yards and the Islington Tunnel, a lot longer at 960 yards, which gives boaters an appearance of floating in mid-air. Lucky for us we do not need to book our transit through the tunnels as you can see through to see if there is anything coming.
The surrounding area to the canal is ever changing as construction projects take shape, affecting and improving the buildings along the route. Some creative projects include Container City, an office development of sea containers. There are apartment buildings of various sizes and designs. Closer to the Thames and Canary Wharf new buildings take on a difference appearance with the 40 plus floors of new tower blocks looking down on us. The new developments sit amongst some of the older parts in Little Venice, Camden, Victoria Park and Mile End. At Limehouse Basin the developers have created a real mix of architecture amongst the old wharfs. This is where we depart the Regents and head onto the magnificent Thames.