A blog about life in London

Welcome To Hell London Canal Walk

Welcome To Hell London Canal Walk

I personally find it a wonderfully relaxing experience to walk next to water, whether it be the sea, river, loch or canal, it is a great way to chill out and rest the body, mind and soul. London may be many miles from the sea, but we of course have the River Thames and quite a few canals, which are great places to head to for a wee stroll and a seat to watch the world go by, especially when the sun is shining.

A short bus ride away from where I live in Kilburn is Little Venice which is where the Grand Union Canal and Regents Canal meet, a place that I have been numerous times. When my African Princess is working hard or studying for exams I often head down to Paddington and walk along Regents Canal to Camden Town, it is a wonderfully chilled out place to go for a walk.

Last Saturday afternoon my plan was to walk from Limehouse Basin to King Cross and quite possible beyond if I had the energy. I however had already been on the road for around 5 hours and walked a fair distance before I even reached my starting point, so I wasn’t exactly starting the walk fresh.

Limehouse Basin is where the Regents Canal meets the River Thames. It was built in 1820 and use to be known as Regents Canal Dock. Ships and boats¬†would offload their cargoes here onto barges, where it would be transported along the canal system to its destination. Limehouse Basin and the area immediately surrounding it has been transformed into luxury apartments and there is also a nice little marina with fancy boats. I guess that’s why they changed the name from Regents Canal Dock, it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Limehouse Basin!

I must admit that at the starting point of my walk at Limehouse Basin you could smell the money in the air. It was all rather nice. I was looking forward to getting away form this place where everything was gleaming. It didn’t take long to escape from where the people with money lived, to get onto the next stretch of the canal, where the people without money and flats that didn’t gleam lived.

As soon as I walked onto what I think is called Limehouse Basin. I couldn’t help but notice all the rubbish floating on the water, graffiti was spray painted everywhere and overflowing rubbish bins lined the path. It felt like I had walked into the heart of the ghetto. Just as I was thinking about heading back to the Prospect of Whitby for a few more overpriced pints of lager, a couple of young Indian kids pushed two shopping trolleys into the canal…WTF. I however decided to keep going, it couldn’t get any worse, no fucking way. It was probably just a bad start.

I kept on walking and walking…hoping that the view and environment would improve. It never did, the graffiti most of which was mindless vandalism by illiterate kids, and the amount of bins that were overflowing with rubbish was un-fucking-believable. This wasn’t the kind of canal walk that hit the right buttons for me. I think I will go back and spray paint my own tags. WELCOME TO HELL, which sums up the place for me.

I never travel with a map and for the first time since I arrived in London, I was cussing myself for not having one. I needed to escape from the ghetto jungle that was this stretch of the Regent’s Canal. I walked past Victoria Park, and I got the best laugh of the day, when one of the great unwashed, work shy losers that live on the barges, was sitting there on the canal path with his white boy dreadlocks, with his filthy clothes on drinking cheap lager, saying the same words to all the single girls that walked past, ‘Your gorgeous.’ One girl who could be bothered to answer the loser, said, ‘I wouldn’t even waste spit on you.’ Wise words indeed.

Just when I was getting really pissed off with the walk I came across a sign that said 1.5 miles to Kings Cross. I thought that aint so bad. Then suddenly my Guardian Angel who must have felt the pain I was in, lead me to Angel Tube Station and home to sanctuary…

 

2 Comments

  1. Oh dear, you bailed just before the going got good.

    Once past Kings Cross the canal traverses some of the poshest parts of London and the scene is rather more of heaven than hell. Regents Park and Maida Vale for instance.

    As someone with a ‘barge’ (mine’s actually a narrowboat) moored in Limehouse Basin, I can assure you the basin itself is a much prettier place this year. Although it does indeed get grim the second you exit through the lock and head up onto the canal itself.

    Historically, canals were the motorways of Britian. They connected commercial and industrial regions, they were not concerned with carrying people. For this reason they typically frequented the shabbier parts of town. London is no exception. In its heyday the canal would have been lined with factories, wharves and slum housing.

    Your experience, and many of mine, show that we’ve still got a very long way to go before we shake that legacy.

    One final point. The majority of us boaters have jobs, and showers. Boat’s aren’t cheap, so we’re often far from the low and scrounging demographic that you seem to have suggested we all belong to. Just so you know.

  2. I have walked the good parts of Regents Canal from Little Venice to Camden Lock dozens of times and featured many, many pictures of those walks on here, so I know all about the good parts of the canal…

    Parts of the Canal area nothing short of a disgrace, the rubbish floating on the water is an eyesore as well as the run down buildings which line the tow path.

    And a final point from me, to you. I haven’t implied that all boaters are low life scum bags, but I have highlighted one individual who very clearly was a drunken loser, who needed a bath and a charachter transplant. Woman should be able to go for a walk along the canal without being chatted up by no hoper loser sitting on his barge drinking cheap lager!