Britain’s best boat trips: the Regent’s Canal, London

Camden Lock, the Pirate’s Castle and a chance to see London Zoo from the water: get a new perspective of London on this compelling boat trip

Photo: Hec Tate/Flickr

 

One of three companies that travel regularly during summer between Little Venice and Camden via London Zoo, boat company Jason’s began operating in 1951 making it the oldest company offering the Regent’s Canal tour via a converted 108-year-old working vessel. The trip is popular with tourists but also allows seasoned Londoners to get a different perspective on London history and scenery. The trip starts from the mooring at Little Venice and then heads past the picturesque boats moored on either side of Blomfield Road. This is unquestionably London’s most photograph-friendly stretch of canal. Following the Maida Hill tunnel and the more urban Lisson Grove moorings – sandwiched between a council estate and an electricity sub-station – the canal hits a pleasing shady secluded passage as it follows the edge of Regent’s Park. For a while, it feels as if you aren’t in London at all, such is the peace and greenery.

There are views of some of the admittedly less interesting animals in London Zoo, and also the grand villas designed by John Nash – and their more modern counterparts – with sculptured gardens that slope down towards the canal. After Primrose Hill and Cumberland Basin, the latter now marked by the presence of a floating Chinese restaurant, the boat heads towards Camden.

The end point is bustling Camden Lock, where tourists can depart to eyeball fashion and craft, or pick up some street food at the excellent food market. Throughout the journey, the guide offers informed commentary of the canal’s history, including tales about Regent’s Canal, London Zoo and local landmarks such as Macclesfield Bridge and the Pirate’s Castle at Camden. Trips run from April to November and take 45 minutes. If you prefer you can head in the other direction from Camden to Little Venice, when the journey is without commentary. Other services on this route are the year-round London Waterbus Company and the Jenny Wren, which also runs in summer only.

Take the trip

Find out more about Jason’s at http://www.jasons.co.uk/