London: the walk from romantic Little Venice to the rock Camden Town
With the arrival of summer in London the temperatures are more pleasant, the days are longer and unlike previous seasons we are likely to have sunny days. In this fine weather the city awakens, filled with colours, scents and the most smiling people. Thanks to this pleasant environment I decided to take a walk into the city to discover corners that I had not yet visited. I took the opportunity to go from Little Venice to Camden Town walking along the Regent’s Canal (for those who do not know, even in London there are canals). A stretch still little known by mass tourism. You start by seeing the romantic side of the city and end with the rock one.
A BIT OF HISTORY
During the 18th century, Britain was experiencing what we call the Industrial Revolution. New inventions and techniques improved production and agriculture and there was a growing demand for products. The roads of the country were still in poor condition. However raw materials, goods and products had to be transported in some way as efficiently and safely as possible to and from the places of production to the ports and markets. The solution was found in the water transport. Thus, the Regent’s Canal was built to connect the Paddington Arm with the Limehouse Thames; it was opened in 1820 and its length was about 14km. The main shopping centre was the Regent’s Canal Dock, a landing point for maritime cargo from abroad, to be unloaded on the canal boats called barges. The use of channels for trade was short-lived as it was later moved to rail. In the winter of 1962-63 the ship was frozen and no cargo could move for several weeks. When the thaw came, most of the freight traffic was moved to the road. Since then the canal has become a place for leisure and boat trips.
houseboat along Regent’s Canal
along the Regent’s Canal
THE FIRST PART OF THE WALK
I arrived in Paddington and like all the stations in the city it is confusing. Made up of a variety of people of different races and backgrounds coming and going. I continued following the signs to the Regent’s Canal and in a few further steps I found it in front of me. From here I turned left and continued along the canal. The atmosphere changes radically, all this frenzy turns into calm and tranquillity. The first impression was not to find myself in Venice, the city in which I lived, but to be in Amsterdam because of the colour of the boats and the flowers arranged above them. There are many colourful houseboats docked at the quay, some of which have been converted into bars/restaurants where you can enjoy a coffee or grab a bite to eat. In a few minutes I arrived in Little Venice.
the canal outside Paddington Station
towards Little Venice
Little Venice is the point where the Regent’s Canal meets the Grand Union Canal and forms a triangle with an island in the centre that hosts swans and other birds. Some of the houseboats moored are also inhabited. I thought about what it might be like to live in such a boat where spaces are limited. In addition, the outer appearance of some is not really the most hospitable: in fact, they resemble open-air warehouses, a bit messy. I crossed the bridge and continued with the ship to my left as long as the canal seemed to disappear. Infact you have to travel a stretch between the houses, not very long. A little further on the scenario changes completely: after descending a few steps it reappears even wider than before and many of the boats are lined up next to each other.
houseboat along Regent’s Canal
The route continues through Regent’s Park where the green is the master of this stretch; gardens, hedges, amphorae and flowers are cared for in every detail. Everything is alternated by beautiful neoclassical villas that at first sight might seem like museums. After crossing all this you get to the zoo where you can see some tropical animals. In this section you can breathe the silence and tranquillity of the city. I continued until I came to the view of a particular building that recalls Asia, shortly afterwards I realized that it was a Chinese restaurant on the water surrounded by lush vegetation. A nice contrast to the eyes.
neoclassical villas along the Regent’s Canal
Chinese restaurant on the water
From this point it is very close to one of the most alternative districts of London, in fact the vegetation makes room for low buildings that almost touch the water. The canal widens and on the opposite bank there are white buildings that look like floating buildings. The calm breathed along almost the entire route makes room for an anthill of people among stalls that sell all kinds of things and smell of food released from the kitchens of various nationalities. I came to the rock heart of Camden Town! A good place to eat some great street food and a sip of a local pint.
towards Camden Town
START/END: Paddington Station – Camden Town
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Paddington station there are several lines of the Metro (known as the London Underground): Hammersmith and City line (pink line), District Line (green line), Bakerloo line (brown line) and the Circle line (yellow line). Instead to reach Camden Town is connected with the Northern line (black line). Or you can decide to start the route from the Warwick Avenue metro station (Bakerloo brown line)
DISTANCE: 5 km
TIME: 1 hour and a half
DIFFICULTY’: easy to
- you can also decide to do the reverse route from Camden Town to Paddington station as an alternative to walking
- you can also take a boat that sails along the canal and takes you from Little Venice to Camden Town or vice versa
- comfortable shoes