How to get there - For Sat Nav users, the nearest post code is NW10 7XE. Otherwise the directions are very simple. Twyford Abbey Rd comes directly off Hanger Lane (the junction where the A406 and A40 cross). Come off Hanger Lane and keep driving for about half a mile and you should see a gap in the buildings on your left. This is the put in to the canal.
Get a map with driving directions to start (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)
Suggested Launch Site - Straight forward launch. The canal comes right alongside Twyford Abbey Road at this point. Simply park up and walk 10 yards to the edge of the canal and drop your boat in.
Description - A paddle to Camden Lock and back should take about 6 hours but there are plenty of opportunities to stop off have lunch and turn around. It's single yellow at the put in so Sunday parking is free. Otherwise there are some resident permit zones which I haven't checked up on. Frankly speaking the canal is never really that busy so it doesn't really matter when you turn up.
The trip begins in quite an industrial manner for about half an hour but moves into much greener territory by Kensal Rise. Continuing on to Ladbroke grove and it starts getting quite urban but not in a horrible way. There's a lot of wildlife around and during the summer it's a great chance to spot Moorhen chicks up real close. The sides of the canal are absolutely heaving with amazing blackberries. No one seems to pick them so your really do get the best of the crop. I made a lovely blackberry crumble from our little haul the other day!
An hour into the trip and looking left you'll see a really interesting collection of home made statues. They depict the royal family all the way back to the 1800s. If anyone knows anything about these please DO tell because they are really strange. Could be one person's obsession or some odd community project?
About an hour and a half should see you in Little Venice where you can stop off for a nice lunch at any of the cafes should you wish - or even a cheeky Pimms at the Waterway which backs onto the canal just before Little Venice. They also do a decent lunch - but with properly good restaurants in town there's no need to stick to establishments by the water.
At Little Venice you'll need to turn left where you'll see a tunnel ahead (Maida Hill Tunnel). Turning right doesn't really go anywhere. Strictly speaking unpowered craft shouldn't go through the tunnel because it's about 300 yards long and very narrow so you could come a serious cropper if a long boat comes your way. You should bring a torch with you so you can make yourself seen in the darkness. Failing that the tour boats are very friendly so ask them if they don't mind you tagging along in their wake and just follow them in. Of course you could always just paddle it as fast as you can and hope you don't come across someone coming the opposite direction!
After the tunnel you'll be sweeping north east up Regents Canal. Spot the floating Chinese restaurant! Turn left and continue onwards to Camden Lock where you can get our and check out the alternative shopping and grab a lunch at the many restaurants in the area.
This really is one of the best ways to get into the capital, with no need to worry about parking or traffic, and a chance to see some of the nicest and most interesting parts of London from a unique perspective.
If you fancy a day out in London with the family, the canal is perfect. Make sure you bring a good lock and chain with you so you can get out and see the sites. You can pretty much get out anywhere along the canal once you get to Little Venice, but some particularly good spots to stop off are as follow:
Lisson Grove - a flight of stairs just after the Maida Hill Tunnel takes you to Lisson Grove where it's a 5 minute walk to Baker Street with Madame Tussauds and the Planetarium. There's also a great Chinese Dim Sum restaurant for an alternative lunch on Glentworth Street called Phoenix Palace.
Regents Park - you can pretty much get off anywhere and go and visit the park. See the enormous golden mosque (centre of the UK's islamic community), and the really nice gardens in the park (best public gardens in Central London)
Primrose Hill - you definitely want to get out here and walk up the hill - you can do this near the big fat floating Chinese restaurant (can't miss it). From the hill you'll see a great view of the whole of London including the London Eye, docklands etc... it really is brilliant and even better in the evenings. Primrose Hill has some fantastic restaurants and pubs. You can also visit London Zoo from this location as it's on the north end of Regent's Park.
Camden Lock - already mentioned this destination. The market is on over the weekend but it's quite a hectic place and with a lot of walkers going up and down the canal here it's better to lock the boat up further down.
So that's it really - a great day out in the capital with no locks to portage and lots to see and do. The total trip is 13.5 miles there and back.
Comments on this trip
Tom Cunningham 07 Apr 2017
his description brought back memories ! Just before the (Only) lock you'll see what looks like a castle on the right hand side of the canal under the Oval Road Bridge This is the Pirate Castle headquarters of the Old Pirate Club and (as the Regents Boating Club) where I first enjoyed the pleasures of Kayaking (back in 1969!) The White Building immediately after was the London offices of the Gilbeys Gin Co. On the left you'll see the unloading dock underneath what used to be Dingwalls Timber Yard.
Kathy Collins 04 Oct 2016
Great trip, BUT you need authority from the Canal and river trust to go though tunnel, risk assessments and in an organised group. Sunday's there are a lot of trip and narrow boats. Sculptures are the 30 year project of a 90 year old artist Gerry Dawson! Expect a bit of litter and the odd dead pigeon in the canal....