Exploring London’s Canals

3 min read by Jessica Edney.
Published on .

Bursts of rain in Kings Cross

London’s canal system forms part of the Grand Union Canal; a 137-mile-long canal line running from London to Birmingham. I have always been fascinated by life on the waterways — especially since my mother lives full-time on a houseboat herself.

A few weeks ago, on a rare day off, I decided to walk the canal route between Kings Cross to Little Venice — a part of London I had never properly explored before.

The canal cuts through The Regents’ Park and passes by London Zoo. I saw hyenas and warthogs on my journey, which was an unexpected surprise!

Home in Warwickshire

The weather was dramatic that day; it would rain hard and fast for a moment, only for bright sunshine to suddenly erupt from the clouds. I found the changeability quite exciting for photography, as the wet surfaces reflected light in interesting and unpredictable ways.

A floating village

The walk was long — longer than I usually spend wandering in London. Like most other Londoners, I normally speed-walk with a destination in mind. Rarely do I get the opportunity to see where the day — and the path — takes me. Walking along the canal meant seeing a completely different side to London. I could hardly hear the traffic noise or smell the vehicle fumes from the nearby roads.

A pensive goose

The wandering ended in Little Venice, when hunger took over and it was time to retreat into a cafe for much-needed coffee and cake. Whilst mulling over hours I’d spent following the waterways, I imagined what it would be like to be one of the many floating villagers who populate the canals of London. I imagined waking up each morning, surrounded by water. I thought of my mother, who was at that moment floating on the very same canal system as I had been following. For a while, even miles away, we had been linked by the waterways.

A residential street in the capital