We start our journey from Paddington station. It is a large railway terminal, but there is also an Underground station underneath. We move in front of the main entrance of the station. There we could look back towards the entrance. Above the entrance is the coat of arms of London City. But actually we are not in this part of the city, but about 4 kilometres to the west. This station in the City of Westminster district belongs to another borough. Interesting in itself...
We are now moving along the main street for about half a kilometre in the North-east direction. When we pass the Post Office (left side), we find a small passage to the left, through which we reach the canal. But it is not actually the Regent's Canal (named after the Prince Regent, later George IV), but its additional branch, which is called Paddington Basin. Right at the beginning, we see a place with artificial grass floating on the water, where people like to sit when the weather is nice. We start moving along the right bank in the direction to the North-west. We can use a small bridge to get there. But this bridge is worth a closer look. It is a drawbridge, the different segments of which rise to different heights. On the right side are counterweights. For a person with an engineering bent, it is quite interesting to study...
Moving along the shore, we will soon cross another small bridge, which is technically also interesting. This bridge is able to roll up if necessary. It's worth exploring. If you want to see it in action, be there on Friday at noon
After passing a house curving to the right, we see the next pedestrian bridge, this time overhead. We cross it to reach the other shore. Let's move on to the North-west. Soon there is a mighty car bridge over our heads, then we see another strangely shaped pedestrian bridge. We pass under two more large bridges and the canal widens and the road curves to the left. We are in Little Venice. Those who are interested in different types of watercraft will have plenty to explore. Soon we will reach a small cafe (Waterside Cafe), which, considering the local traditions, is of course located on the ship. But you can also drink coffee and have a cake at a table placed on the shore.
Once we are eaten, we cross the small bridge (the beautiful blue high-arching bridge) and move to the right, to the North-east. No, we are not going back, as it might seem. At this point the canal forks and now we are already at the Regent's Canal, where we stay close to the end of the walk.
But as soon as we pass under the car bridge, we have to go a little further away from the canal. Many people live in boats, and you can't get through their "home yard" along the shore, the iron gate is in front. But let's move a few meters to the left and continue walking on the pavement. Moving on in this way, we reach a small cafe located directly above the canal. But moving on from there (still in the North-east direction) we discover that the canal is no longer there, it ended with the cafe! No need to be sad, the next 250 m we walk above the canal, it flows underground. When the road turns to the left, we continue along a narrow passage (on the right side of the sign CUNNINGHAM PLACE). Soon we see the canal again, but since we had climbed the hill unnoticed in the meantime, it is deep below behind the iron fence.
We get to the big car service and once again our channel is gone! There is a large iron gate of some kind of factory in front. Where to go next? We move a few tens of meters to the right and find a small gate with a blue sign CYCLISTS DISMOUNT above it and a relatively inconspicuous text REGENT'S CANAL below it. The road goes on from there. The track goes down steeply, and we are again by the canal. Here, too, people probably live on ships, but unlike the previous area, walking in the "home yard" is not prohibited here. There is a lot of greenery and flowers, and this section is a bit like a hippie commune.
Now we pass under several consecutive bridges and there is greenery on the right. No wonder, we have reached the park. Regent's Park. On the right side of the hill, you can see some magnificent villas. It is worth noting the bridge with large iron arches called Macclesfield Bridge. In 1874, this bridge blew up. A barge filled with explosives exploded right under the bridge. The barge's keel flew 300 meters away. The bridge was quickly rebuilt. Look at the bridge pillars. There are wear marks from the ropes used by the horses to pull the barges. But there are traces on both sides of the column, because during restoration, this column was put back the wrong way. :-)
As we walk further, we observe the bridges crossing the canal. They are very different but beautiful. When we reach the third metal bridge, we know we are now in a zoo. How so? We didn't buy a ticket, did we? Of course, you would need a ticket to see the animals. But the London Zoo is built in a very peculiar way. It is cut by a canal and a large motorway. Zoo visitors move between different parts along bridges or tunnels. So we can be in the middle of the zoo, but we're not actually there because we can't get to the cages. The London zoo looks huge, but in fact it is quite small by territory. We currently have a canal walk, but you can visit it another time. If you are rich enough, you can even spend the night there in a small hotel-type cabin right next to the lions' area.
When the zoo ends, the canal turns sharply to the left. But there is a red boat right in front. This is the Chinese restaurant Feng Shang Princess. In fact, this impasse has not always been so short. From here, the canal went straight ahead, but this part is now filled in, largely with the remains of houses destroyed by the WWII bombardment. If you care to turn onto Gloucester Gate, you will see a bridge over the flat land.
The next interesting building to see is the Pirate Castle. This building seems medieval at first glance, but it was built in 1977. It's actually a boat rental. Designed by Richard Seifert (also author of Centre Point and Natwest Tower).
Next comes the Camden Market area. It is usually very crowded. From the diagonal bridge crossing the river, we could turn to the right bank for a while to return to the left bank again on the next bridge.
You still have to pass under many bridges. When we're under the Camden Road (not to be confused with Camden Street, which is before it) bridge, it's worth looking up. There is a thick iron pipe. In this tube flows the River Fleet, a river that runs from Hampstead Heath until it joins the Thames at Blackfriars Bridge. This river now runs entirely underground, passing through unexpected places such as the front of Kings Cross station and the cellar of the Ye Olde Chessire Cheese pub.
If you see a bridge on the way with what looks like windows on the side, know that this railway bridge leads to St Pancras station. Stop and if you hear a rumble overhead, maybe it was a Eurostar train from Paris...
Immediately after the above-mentioned bridge, we can see some round towers with gratings on the left. Their name is gasometer. They were once gas storages. Inside these grates, a giant tank floating in the water was raised, in which the gas was stored. As there are better ways to store gas these days, these towers are no longer used. In the first of these, a rather peculiar little park has been built.
Moving on, we see a rather complicated lock system and reach Granary Square. It is such a beautiful place designed with steps and fountains where one can just sit or lie down and rest. Crossing the bridge near this place, we soon reach Kings Cross St Pancras tube station. But we can go a little further. We will soon arrive at the Word on Water book store. It is located on a hundred-year-old wooden ship. If you are interested in books, it is worth going on board, this store sometimes has amazingly low prices. By the way, if we are standing in front of this book store, trains are running below us. Trains departing from King's Cross station travel in a tunnel that passes under the canal at this point. King's Cross trains depart from platforms which are at ground level and the train descends as it exits the station. However, the train stops at the neighbouring St Pancras station are on the upper floor above (strange, but the lower floor used to be a beer warehouse), so the trains go over the bridge. You can also visit the Harry Potter fan shop at King's Cross station. Before going to the Underground, also go to St Pancras station, it is beautiful and interesting.