Our full coach made its way cross country due to there having been two major incidents round Oxford and traffic was backed up for miles. We arrived at Little Venice a little later than planned but in time for the arrival of our dedicated boat to take us to Camden. It was a perfect day for an off the beaten track venture.
Our boat was located at Brownings Pool and the start was from the pretty light blue, wrought iron bridge, overlooking the area where the Grand Union and the Regents Canal meet. The Grand Union canal runs for 220 kilometres north-north-west of Little Venice until it reaches Birmingham. Regents Canal is almost 14 kilometres long, linking the Grand Union Canal to the Limehouse Basin in the east, and ultimately, the Thames River.
In years gone by the boats were horse drawn along the towpaths, which are now used by cyclists, walkers, runners and people just enjoying themselves.
The boat took us through Maida Hill Tunnel which is 249 metres long and completely straight, it only took a couple of minutes to travel through. There is no towpath through the tunnel so the art of Legging used to take place. This is the act of moving a narrowboat through a canal tunnel, while lying on your back either atop the boat or—as was most common—on a plank jutting out across its bow at both sides, and walking along the tunnel’s roof or walls. It usually requires two people, one on either side of the boat and each holding onto the plank for stability.
During the journey we passed by London Zoo and several animals could be seen in their compounds. Expensive mansions sporting large gardens, including the home of the US Ambassador line the banks. On parts of the canal we understood that some moorings are up to £100,000 pa to moor a boat .
It was easy to tell when we had arrived at Camden with the hive of activity. The end of the journey is indicated by the sight of the Dingwall Building and the double lock system, Camden Lock. Camden is a lively mix of markets, food stalls, antiques, crafts, pubs, cafes and restaurants.
After 2 hours of ambling round the markets and trying some of the street food it was time to catch the boat back to Little Venice. We boarded our coach and had a remarkably good journey home considering the time of day. Pam