The Hidden London Canal

London canal

Did you know that London has a canal? And one as pretty as this?

I gave him a smile and a head nod of acknowledgment and he gave me a proper raised eyebrow and reserved recognition as we swiftly passed each other shoulder to shoulder. A typical greeting among runners. I continued to dodge bicycles speeding by me as I ran along the canal gazing at houseboats and a few random cafes. However I wasn’t in Amsterdam – I was in London!

I had accidentally come across this London canal (Regent’s Canal) while running around my neighborhood during my stay in London. My Oh London apartment was tucked away far from tourist sites and next to Jamie Olivers restaurant and kitchens (which by the way were disappointing).  It was easy to find running routes around the local neighborhood, however I never expect to find a canal running route.

What I found on the canal run was a exposure to normal life in London. Away from tourists and crowded sidewalks I was thoroughly enthralled by this hidden canal and the people who commuted to work on bicycle and by foot away from buses and tube lines.  It was lined with residential upscale lofts, regular apartments, offices, industrial buildings, art installations, construction, graffiti, tunnels, cafes, houseboats, and locks.

The canal was full of surprises around every corner and way more entertaining than pushing through tourists on the Thames.

Join me on my run!

An industrial unknown structure...no, it's not a roller coaster!

Houseboat along the canal

Art installation along the canal

Boot

Flower Boot

Green Door

Bike Commute

The local Canal

Colorful Canal Cafe

More information on the canal and it’s history can be found here – Wikipedia: Regent’s Canal

Your Comments

23 Comments so far

  1. Jonathan says:

    Those industrial structures are empty gas tanks. See the grey surface right at the bottom? That’s the top of the container. As the tank fills with gas it rises within the metal structure and as it empties out the tank sinks back into the ground.

  2. Looks like a lovely day out! Soooo much nicer than any canal in India, where we are.

    (You have to hold your nose as you walk past!)

  3. Looks like the canal in Hoxton, is that right? If so then yes, I did know about it because I walked along it in December – friends live right there and showed it to us.

  4. How cute is that! I wonder where it goes in the end, or what two bodies of water it connects?

  5. Lane says:

    Beautifully shot! I’m married to a British ex-pat who has never told me about a canal in London. Hmmmm… Next visit to the in-laws and I will need to hunt this up.

  6. Ross says:

    I didn’t know. But there is a lot about London I don’t know. I’ll have to try to find it next time I am there. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  7. Mark H says:

    People mention “canaL” and they DON’T think of London. Beautiful photo.

  8. Jarmo says:

    That is a nice canal, almost like Amsterdam ;) Is that somewhere north London, around Camden or maybe a bit north from there?

  9. Hotel Wala says:

    Beautiful picture….Canals are backbones of civilization.Did not know about this.

  10. Di says:

    My favo(u)rite bit of the Regents Canal is opposite the London Zoo where you can see a scary notice. There are regular boat trips to this entrance and there is a large sign warning people not to disembark if the red flag is flying – which means that there is a dangerous animal on the loose!
    There is also ‘Blow-up’ Bridge, so-called because of an explosion that – well – blew it up. I wrote about it here: http://freshfields.blogspot.com/2006/05/chalk-farm-and-camden-these-two.html

  11. Stephen says:

    The canal is a great place for bike ride too. I stayed near there during my week in London and loved it.

  12. David says:

    Sherry,

    I’ve just found your blog. Fascinating, especially the parts about house-sitting around the world.

    As for the canal in London I suspect that, given the 18th century canal-building boom and the sheer size of London, there must be an entire network of these – although many may now be filled in. I wonder if anyone has mapped them as walking, running and cycling routes. There must be a book in that idea – but not volunteering.

    Great blog. Keep it flowing.

    • Sherry says:

      Thanks David – and thanks for the additional info about the canals. It really was surprising to me to stumble upon this! I loved the path that ran along it – a whole little subculture.

  13. Just another reason I will always love London!

  14. Dani says:

    The canals are actually not hidden at all, and Regent’s Canal is only one of London’s many canals. There is also the Great Union Canal, the Grand Junction Canal, Croydon Canal,… There is even a Canal Museum and there is water taxi on Regent’s Canal from Camden to Paddington – a scenic ride but also a great walk/run. One of my most memorable experiences in London was kayaking on Regent’s Canal at sunrise – Camden was still asleep, we kayaked through the zoo and along the mansions of Primrose Hill – highly recommend it for your next visit to London, I think you’d enjoy it.

    • Sherry says:

      Ohhh – the kayaking sounds like a great idea – especially at that time of day. You are right – it’s not hidden – it’s just not very well known from a tourist perspective…which I actually like!

  15. Rosie says:

    Hi Dani – do you commute to cowkr by kayak and if so, could you please leave me a message – i’m donig a campaign about alternative transport methods and would love to hear from you.
    R

  16. Steve says:

    Great shots as per usual Sherry! The boot pic is amazing, what lens did you use?
    I can never get that blurry out of focus effect on my camera!


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