London has a number of well known waterways and canals, which make them ideal places to take a walking tour of the city. There is a lot to see along the way, featuring plenty of attractions and landmarks, which makes it an enjoyable experience.
The best area to stay if contemplating such a trip is the Bayswater Road area near Hyde Park or Central London, where you are always going to be in close proximity of many of its wonderful waterways and canals.
One of the better known canals of the city is Regent’s Canal. It offers a tranquil waterway, and along its route passes a zoo, parks, Victorian warehouses and Camden Market among other attractions.
Regent’s Canal was constructed to join Grand Junction Canal's Paddington section with the Thames River. It now has become a popular area with visitors and Londoners alike to hang out and spend their leisure time.
The History of Regent's Canal
The Regent's Canal Company was formed in 1812. They were allotted the task of building a new canal from the Grand Junction Canal's Paddington area to Limehouse.
It was planned to construct a dock which would be located at the junction of the Thames River. Its architect was the well known British architect John Nash who came up with the idea of having barges ply the waterways through the urban landscape. It was completed in 1820, but was built at a time close to the start of the railways era, which did not make it a very financially viable project at the time. In fact it narrowly missed being demolished and used for the railways. However, later on it became an integral part of transportation in the city.
Some of the interesting things to do and attractions to visit on its route are:
Kayaking and Narrow-boat Tours
You could choose to hop aboard a narrow-boat and take a trip along the canal. There are narrow-boat tours available that take visitors from Little Venice to Camden Lock Market, which makes for a thrilling and colorful trip along the route. Going on a one-way trip would take a little under an hour to complete. On the way visitors get to learn about the history of narrow-boats, the cargo they carried and life on the waterways. You can hop off at the fascinating London Canal Museum which is housed in a Victorian era ice house, where you also get to learn about the history of ice-cream and the ice-trade. Alternately you could choose to take a kayak tour of the Canal which is offered by London Kayak Tours. It is a guided tour and kayakers get to paddle 8 miles over the length of the canal.
Little Venice & the Marylebone Cricket Club
One of the most picturesque parts to visit is Little Venice, also called Maida Vale, which is a serene spot that has a number of waterfront bars, restaurants, independent shops and the famous Canal Cafe besides the Puppet Barge. Move further along the canal route and you will arrive at the Mecca of Cricket the legendary Lord's Cricket Ground. You could learn about the game’s history at the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) and also take a tour of Lord's Ground and its museum.
Regent's Park and the London Zoo
Regent’s Park was transformed by John Nash in 1811, from being a former hunting reserve of Henry VIII to the magnificent landscaped gardens that are seen today. Regent’s Park houses a number of playing fields, lakes and incredibly beautiful rose gardens. Regent’s Park is referred to as the jewel in the crown of London and has been a popular movie location for many movies shot in London. These include an American Werewolf in London, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Withnail and I and About a Boy among other well known movies.
Once twilight moves in you will see the lights twinkle in the area. The Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park is one of the best theatre venues in the city. You can visit it in the summer when it is open for visitors and is a popular attraction for both residents of London as well as tourists..
If you are in the Regent's Park area, you must pay a visit to the ZSL London Zoo. Here you will come across more than 750 exotic species of animals, which include giraffes, camels, tigers, pythons and the fearsome pre-historic looking Komodo dragon! A great place to visit with the family.
One of the trendiest places in town Primrose Hill is known to be the haunt of celebrities including movie actors and rock stars. It offers a wonderful shopping opportunity although you will need to pack a fat wallet, as it is home to exclusive boutiques, gastro pubs and restaurants in the area. Here you will also find organic product retailers, specialist lingerie outlets, quaint bookshops and a number of high-end perfume outlets among other expensive shopping retailers. Pop in at the Lemonia, which is a famous Greek eating joint where you can enjoy a wonderful meal out in the open, while you can keep your eyes open for celebrity spotting.
Travel along to Camden Market and you will probably get the enticing aroma of food or hear music, before you actually catch a sight of the many stalls to be found in the area. Weekends are the busiest time when the area is awash with visitors who drop-in on the lookout for artsy stuff including accessories, clothes, getting a tattoo or even going in for body piercing. Don’t despair as it is not just for the young bunch, as it offers a good choice of furniture, antiques, pottery and additional paraphernalia to choose from.