On a fine spring day, a small group from Wokingham 3 explored the 3.5mile canal walk from Paddington to the Cumberland Basin at Camden, via Little Venice. We emerged from Paddington station straight on to the towpath at the Grand Union Canal and were delighted to see, straight away, elaborately decorated barges, several cafés and canal boats for hire. We paused there for coffee, stopping only once again for lunch at a café with excellent views as it straddled the canal.
Armed with a route map showing points of interest, we followed the towpath, walked over or under bridges, crossed the Grand Union Canal to join the Regents Canal at Little Venice, followed diversions to the streets above then back to the canal. Right from the beginning, we spotted landmarks, too many to relate, but including sculptures; several listed buildings; homes of the rich or famous, or with a story to tell; plaques with the history of some of the 13 bridges or anecdotes about canal life; a Puppet Theatre barge at Little Venice and a Pirates castle at Camden lock.
We were intrigued by the changes in environment ranging from the bustle around Paddington, to the unexpectedly tranquil wider expanse of water at Little Venice. On a street diversion, we admired blossom on trees, wisteria climbing high, private barge moorings and huge mansions.
Later, in sharp contrast, we followed the canal through Westminster’s largest estate, Lisson Grove, and past a wharf where barges had transferred cargo to and from Marylebone station. We were diverted away from where the towpath passed homes designed by John Nash, but re-joined it near Regents Park Zoo and spotted some African wild dogs. Then more unbroken typical canal path walking which led abruptly to the graffitied walls, canal side flats and Cumberland Basin at Camden lock – a stone’s throw from Camden Market. An interesting and enlightening walk in the sun.