Sunday, 20 May 2012

Exploring Little Venice and Grand Union Canal

Borough of Paddington - Little Venice

Following a glorious autumn and the mildest winter in living history, Londoners could be mistaken for believing our luck was in with an early spring in February and March.  Alas, it was not to be as our luck turned at the end of March and the weather has been positively miserable ever since. 

This would explain why, two days before our proposed tour of Little Venice, Mela and I sat huddled over hot cups of chai tea, discussing possible alternative arrangements should the weather be too horrible to go ahead with our plans. 

Preparing for the worse, we set out bright and early last Saturday morning and we were blessed with perfect walking weather: bright and sunny in parts but not so much so that it makes walking unpleasant.

We began our adventure in Maida Vale, stopped for lunch in the Indo-Chinese restaurant Banana Tree and then strolled through posh neighbourhoods to Warwick Avenue where we arrived at Little Venice.

We were amused to see the “Borough of Paddington” sign above.  This borough existed from 1900 to 1965 but was then merged to become part of the City of Westminster.  Still, with such an ornate Victorian crest, I can see why they would want to keep it there.

The Waterside Cafe - Little Venice

The area where we joined the waterways is known as Browning’s Pool and is named after the poet Robert Browning.  It is here that the Regent’s Canal meets with the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal.  We had decided to walk down Grand Union Canal that day, through the Paddington basin and beyond.

In the photo at the top, you can see the Waterside Cafe which is a gorgeous little riverside cafe where you can enjoy afternoon tea on board the canal boat or seated beside it. We hadn’t quite burned our lunch off though and decided to keep going instead, with a promise to return one day.

Well, there is nothing left to do but join us as we wander along Grand Union Canal towards Paddington.

Grand Union Canal Carrying Co - Little Venice

Naturally, there were countless canal boats.  I absolutely love the idea of spending a summer aboard one of these boats.   I can imagine myself reading a pile of books (of the paper, non-electronic variety, even) and sipping tea above board.  I wonder what the canal boat above is used for these days?  The Grand Union Canal Carrying Company was around during the heyday of England’s canal ways and closed down in 1948.

Standing Man-Sean Henry-2003-Sheldon Square-Little Venice

One of the reasons we chose this particular route was to spot some of the installation art in the area.  This is Sean Henry’s “Standing Man” (2003) and he was incredibly lifelike as he faced another standing man.

Bob and Mary - Little Venice

I loved the name of this canal boat and wondered who Bob and Mary were and whether they were still so in love.

G W R Paddington - Paddington Basin

We soon found ourselves behind Paddington Rail Station in the area known as Paddington Waterside.  There was suddenly a lot more concrete around and the canal ways were no longer as green and pretty as they had been around Browning’s Pool.

Maclean and Co-Little Venice

Just as I began to think that we should have chosen the Regent’s Canal route, we turned the corner and saw the very modern, very colourful Paddington Basin.

Paddington Basin-Little Venice

I find that places like this are always quite surreal.  Firstly, the entire area was far too quiet for 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.  It was also really neat and tidy, almost as if real people don’t actually live here. 

Paddington Basin

It was a lot of fun to photograph though and we did find the odd sign of humanity and human habitation.  I can just imagine that the owners below with their mop and watering can are everyone else’s least favourite neighbours. 

Paddington Waterside

We had reached the end of the canal ways and stopped at the nearby Core restaurant for cake and refreshments.  If bad service and ice-creamless iced coffee is your thing, I’d certainly recommend Core. 

Sign Post-Paddington Waterside-Little Venice

I’d wanted to explore Little Venice for the longest time and now that I have, I just want to explore it again, this time walking west from Warwick Avenue or walking up Regent’s Canal towards London Zoo and then on to Camden.  Do let me know if you’d like to join me for a walk and I’ll be sure to invite you along.

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16 comments

  1. Fabulous shots. I'm up for going again and going towards Camden. Maybe summer will finally come in the mean time.

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  2. Thank you!

    How can it happen that a person can live in London for serious lengths of time without knowing Little Venice? I discovered it utterly by accident, looking for Warrington Crescent where David Ben-Gurion lived, before he became the first Prime Minister of Israel. Nearby I accidentally found the very gorgeous Warrington Hotel.

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  3. Totally reminded me of Venice! How cool! I had no idea so many places were "hiding" in London or close by :)

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  4. One MORE amazing London neighborhood to put on my "to do" list for my next visit. What a neat area!

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  5. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?

    Jillian

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  6. Looks like you had a real nice walking trip, and now the weather has come nice as well today.

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  7. Em,

    I loved reading this visit. I've had you on google reader for over a year and just love visiting London with you. It's been about 8 years since my last visit and I'm dying to return. This trip through Little Venice made me feel like I was there.

    Sharon

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  8. @Mela: great! Let's start planning our next walk.

    @ Hels: always a pleasure! Strangely enough, I knew about the canals having spent time in Camden as a child but had no idea they spread right through London.

    @ Ivanhoe: London is amazing. I will take a tour of the docklands one day and hopefully show you more of London's amazing nooks and crannies.

    @ Kathy: I think you'd love Little Venice. It is such a lovely part of London.

    @ Jillian: You can email me. They contact details are on the contact tab above.

    @ John: I'm not convinced spring will ever arrive!!

    @ Sharon: thank you for reading and commenting! I do like taking people along with me on my journeys!

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  9. Looks very nice! I've never heard about this bit of London. I'd love to visit here. But then, I'm off to the 'big' Venice in summer :-)

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  10. I did a wee post on this last year after visiting on a quiet afternoon with my ex-boyfriend (who wasn't an ex at the time)

    http://withinireland.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/little-venice/

    I wonder if he knows this blog post is still floating about?

    I thought it was a lovely area and was SUCH a nice break from the work week!

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  11. I'm totally up for a walk exploring Little Venice. Love it there!

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  12. great pictures emm, love little venice...

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  13. Beautiful part of town, beautiful pictures (as usual) :-)

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  14. As always, thanks for the tour. I'd love to have one month to wander London, with no itinerary and no timeline.

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  15. That is the kind of tour-with-a-camera I enjoy! Thank your taking us along :-)

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  16. Fantastic pictures.

    A wee walk I like doing is from Paddington Basin to Camden Lock – I always take a packed lunch and sit on one the many benches and enjoy the view... The stretch of Regents Canal from Aberdeen Place – which is about 10 minutes walk from Little Venice – to just before Camden Lock is my favourite bit of any of the canal system I have walked in London...

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