Thursday, June 28, 2018

Walking the Canals of London

London could be thought of as an island.

I'm not talking about the disconnect between the capital and the rest of the country, but physically an island as in surrounded by water.

The city is well known to be bisected by the Thames but there is also a loop of canals that join the river at Brentford in the west and Limehouse in east, making the land within an island. This loop around London is a good way for those with small craft to explore the capital, as written up in the book "Circle Line: Around London in a Small Boat" reviewed here.

It is also an excellent walking trail which over a number of weekends I've been following. The map above shows the following segments:

There is also the optional:

If you are feeling very ambitious you could close the loop by following the Thames path back to the start, as in:

  • Kew to Limehouse: 26.9 km

The route in the Google map above shows a route through Brunel's Thames Tunnel which might have to be taken by train unless you get lucky. The alternative is to cross to the north bank using Tower Bridge.

I've walked or ridden on a bike the whole way round (something like 90 km in total) though not in such neat segments. For example, the Limehouse to Kings Cross was done in reverse from Kings Cross ending up at Mile End (after joining the Limehouse loop walk) and the Kings Cross to Little Venice walk started at Islington (where I happened to be for an art exhibition that day).

If you want something a little easier, why not try the shortest canal walk in London, just by Victoria station?

If you want to know more about the route there's a great series of videos from the Londonist about this canal walk.


Greg Wesson said...

Thanks. Nice blog. I've walked moat of this over the years, but not as a concentrated effort. Might be a good summer project.

JP said...

Go for it! I really enjoyed doing it, and its relatively easy to break into chunks and stop for a bit if you're busy and start again when you have a free weekend with good weather.

It was quite amazing how unlike London it often felt, calm waters and green banks, yet cuts through the busy city. There is also a large historical angle with connections to the days of the industrial revolution

Trying to do the whole loop is a good way to visit places you'd otherwise not see