London’s Little Venice

When I think of canals, I think of Venice or Amsterdam. But I recently discovered that these aren’t the only cities crisscrossed by canals. Good old London has them too!

View of the canal towards Edgware Road

View of the canal towards Edgware Road

London’s (and Britain’s) canal system was a child of the Industrial Revolution and its demand for cheap transport for goods and commodities. It may sound odd to modern ears but the boats were horse-drawn and the horses walked along the tow paths. One horse could carry thirty tonnes at a time. Nowadays, water buses transport passengers to and from Camden Town.

The horse-drawn boats are long gone but the canals still remain and became part of a lifestyle. The area known as Little Venice consists of a pool of water where the Grand Union and Regent’s canals meet. It is sought after as it provides a posh postcode on the (relatively) cheap, as this is where houseboats can be moored. It is a lovely, quiet area surrounded by mainly elegant Georgian houses along tree-lined streets.

Tow path chock-a-block with plants

Tow path chock-a-block with plants

Regent’s Canal lies just north of Central London. It is 8.6 miles (13.8 km) long and was built in the early 1800’s as an alternative way to transport goods to Paddington Station. Some sections of the tow path are open to the public and some are for residents only. I walked along Regent’s Canal for a while on a sunny spring day. It was a very pleasant stroll and it provided a glimpse into houseboat life.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

There isn’t much space so every nook and cranny is filled with stuff. The small kitchens -or should I call them galleys? –  were very functional and luminous. Many boats had a table and one or two chairs on deck to take advantage of the fine weather, as well as potted plants and even gardening implements. As far as I know, some moorings (hopefully all) offer full facilities: showers, washers and dryers and the like, as well as connection to water, electricity and phone services. There were well-tended patches of garden along the tow path brimming with spring blooms.

Sit down for a cuppa

Sit down for a cuppa

It seems to me that living on a houseboat fulfills both the desire to own a house and the freedom to take it with you, as some British narrow boats are capable of navigating the European canal systems.

I’m not sure I could live on one permanently. Could you?

To visit Little Venice, take the Bakerloo Line to Warwick Avenue station and then walk down Bloomfield Road.

About Ana O

Hi, I’m Ana. I’m originally from Argentina but I’m currently living in Dallas (USA) with my British husband. I’d like to share my experiences as an expat and as a traveller.

19 thoughts on “London’s Little Venice

  1. Yes, so long as it was moveable, Ana. I’d love it! Camden Town and the canal paths are one of my favourite parts of London. And there’s always Bruges! 🙂

  2. It looks lovely there. I’ve been meaning to go for a while, but haven’t got round to it yet. I’ll have to make time while the sun shines. Although no, I don’t think I could ever live on one

  3. I wouldn’t like to live permanently on one, but if I didn’t have any other choice, I’d do that rather than sleeping under a bridge 😉

  4. I could definitely not live on a houseboat. I think that where I put my head at night should be stable. Maybe that’s why earthquakes give me such anxiety!

    1. Earthquakes would make me anxious too! I’m not too fond of water in general (although I do shower every day 🙂 ) so I don’t find this lifestyle attractive. Having said that. I wouldn’t mind spending, say, a weekend on one of these boats to see what it’s like.

  5. I’ve always fancied one of those houseboat holidays, but I don’t think I could live on one permanently. My husband certainly couldn’t as the motion would make him seasick, really! Lots of towns still maintain the tow paths and they are great for cycling. Just stay away from the edge, yikes.

  6. Wonderful place. Great photos! I can’t talk anything for it. So so so beautyful!!!!
    Thanks for sharing! And you are a beautiful girl 😛

  7. Interesting! It does indeed look a lot like many cities here in the Netherlands (not only Amsterdam has an intticate canal system). I don’t know if I could live in one of those boat houses either, but here in Holland I sometimes see some that are really beautiful, very comfortable and with idyllic surroundings …

  8. I hate to admit it as I’ve been to London at least 40 times and I have yet to visit the canals. After seeing these pictures, as we plan to visit next year at this time, I can’t wait to go there.

    1. Definitely include Little Venice in your itineray. It’s lovley.
      You know, I visit Londin quite often and there are many famous places I haven’t seen yet.

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