Eight geotag journalists exploring your city. This week: Global London.

Boatway to London

By Xudong Zeng

You may think you know everything about London; the historical sites, the quirky bars, the stylish girls surrounding London Fashion Week, the curious minds browsing the British Museum.

But the experience isn’t complete until you see floating London. Riding through the city’s canals and viewing London is an experience in itself.

North of Paddington is a picturesque pool of water where the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals meet.

It’s a sneakily sunny Saturday morning. Alongside Warwick Avenue, everything seems tranquil and peaceful.

Little Venice has barely woken up from sleep, and early morning birds can be seen jogging, walking and talking with friends.

In this picturesque corner of the city London floats on water.

Most boats here are private, with people living on them. They have everything a resident could need on them, including a kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom.

They generate an element of curiosity in the canals. “The boats are just lovely. I wonder how it feels to live on a boat,” wonders Lisa Jackson, walking along the riverside.

From this one dock in Paddington you can take a boat trip to see how the meandering waterway makes its way through the heart of the city all the way to the charming streets of Maida Vale and then on to Regent’s Park and Camden.

Cosy cruising

Regent’s Canal Waterbus narrowboats travel on the river between Little Venice and Camden Lock every day and take curious visitors on a 50-minute trip through this little slice of London.

“In summer we have both Londoners and tourists but for now they are mainly tourists,” says the staff, “sometimes in summer it is too popular to get a ticket for the boat trip.”

As the boat sails, it goes between two other boats moored on the banks of the canal. Those on board could peep into the windows of other narrow boats a little bit to satisfy their curiosity.

“It’s a lovely experience,” says Colette Stevens from Essex celebrating her 70th birthday on the boat: “although I have been living in London for many years, it’s the first time for me and my family to do this boat trip together to see the city from the canal. I will definitely recommend to my friends.”

Floating down the canal on the waterbus you can indulge in the on board café and enjoy a cosy time with the boat gliding and the sun gently shines in through the window, making the trip all the more delightful.

While the locals relish their every minute, tourists feel a bit disconnected, perhaps pointing out the missing link in the journey. “We don't have many like this in Japan but it was a little boring. It would be better to have someone talking us through the history of the canal,” say visitors Asuka Hirota and Yu Kishimoto from Tokyo.

Back to top