The Regent’s Canal is one of London’s best-kept secrets - a peaceful haven often hidden by the surrounding buildings, it offers a unique perspective on some of the capital’s urban landscapes.
The canal links a diverse cross-section of London’s attractions. From the colourful collection of narrowboats at Little Venice basin in Maida Vale, it runs on through Regent’s Park. Here it is overlooked by a vast aviary - part of London Zoo. In Camden, it passes the craft stalls and quirky clothing shops of the famous market, a centre for London’s alternative culture.
After Camden, there are quieter reaches, but the canal is still at the heart of a vibrant cultural scene. As it continues towards the East End, it passes close by many small independent art galleries and studios, displaying exciting and cutting-edge work.
Mile End Park has had a new lease of life in recent years, with an arts pavilion, terraced gardens, green bridge giving views of Canary Wharf, audio walk, children’s play areas and sports facilities. The Regent’s Canal finally joins the River Thames at Limehouse Basin, always busy with boats of all kinds.
The Regent's Canal is a highly attractive waterway in itself, offering you the chance to see a side of London missed by others.
It's also a useful through-route to the rivers Lee and Stort, and for the more adventurous boater, forms part of the London Ring which incorporates a trip along the Thames tideway. Access onto the River Thames is via Limehouse Lock or Bow Locks, and from the Grand Union Canal via Thames Lock at Brentford. Remember that the Thames has fickle currents and tide runs.
Walking & cycling
Our towpaths connect many of the capital's famous green spaces with central routes from Regent's Park to Victoria Park and even right across London from the Lee Valley Regional Park in the east to the Colne Valley Regional Park in the west.
In 1812, the Regent's Canal Company was formed to cut a new canal from the Grand Junction Canal's Paddington Arm to Limehouse, where a dock was planned at the junction with the Thames. The architect John Nash played a part in construction, applying his concept of 'barges moving through an urban landscape'.
Completed in 1820, it was built too close to the advent of the railway age to produce the financial success that had been envisaged - at one stage only narrowly escaping early conversion into a railway. But it was subsequently to become instrumental in much commercial development throughout the 19th Century.
Together with the Grand Junction Canal and the associated routes to the Midlands and north, the Regent's Canal formed an essential component in southern England's transport system. Huge quantities of timber, coal, building materials and foodstuffs were carried and long-distance traffic continued to use it into the 1960s.
Macclesfield Bridge is also known as Blow-Up Bridge, a reference to a 19th Century incident involving a boat carrying explosives. Set on Coalbookdale cast iron columns the bridge was rebuilt using the original columns that were re-erected facing the wrong way.