Big day in Little Venice

Our exploration of this crowded city continued yesterday and took us to an area in the west of the city, known as Little Venice. In glorious late summer sunshine, we walked along the edge of this junction of two canals and marvelled again at a hidden treasure presented to us by the Big Smoke.

Little Venice, the junction of Regent's Canal and the Grand Union Canal

We travelled along the Bakerloo line as far as Warwick Avenue – yes, the very title of a song by Welsh singer, Duffy – and followed the finger boards to Little Venice in south Maida Vale. According to Wikipedia, the area is believed to have been so named by the English poet, Robert Browning, who lived in the area from 1862 to 1887. Browning’s Pool (pictured above), the junction of Regent’s Canal and the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal, bears further testimony to the influence of the poet in this area.

Many lovely houseboats line the length of the canal

We walked along the perimeter of the junction’s triangle, originally known as Paddington Broadwater when the junction was created in the 1810s, and enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch in Rembrandt Gardens. Artists’ studios on the east side of Browning’s Pool were demolished and replaced by this small park in 1975, so named to commemorate the 700thanniversary of the founding of Amsterdam, the ‘Venice of the North’.

These two older gentlemen enjoyed the late summer sunshine so much they had a little snooze in it!

Apart from having been home to Browning, Little Venice has been home to short-story writer Katherine Mansfield, playwright Christopher Fry, novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard and Icelandic singer Bjork.  It is also home to the Canal Cafe Theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge and the Waterside Cafe.

The Waterside Cafe - we had an ice-cream here!

After our picnic lunch, we took the waterbus – a long boat – from Little Venice, eastwards around Regent’s Park, and on to our final destination of Camden Town. A delightful crew of a Scotsman and an Englishman instructed us in the health and safety guidelines for climbing safely into the boat, and then assured us that any marriages officiated by the captain on the 50 minute journey would only last for the duration of the journey. Just as well; the narrow seats were well uncomfortable.

Our boat ride along the canal took us through the Maida Vale tunnel, a 250 metre long tunnel built in 1812. Architecture that ranged from the majestic to the common lined the canal as we wove our way past the London Zoo through to the heaving market town of Camden.

Waterbuses go up and down the canal at regular intervals. A great idea for special occasions, as this 'hen do' indicates!

Another outstanding day in this beautiful city of surprises.

Sunshine signing off for today!


23 thoughts on “Big day in Little Venice

  1. I can see snippets of why it’s called “Little Venice” Looks like you had a lovely day out and about. Good to see some blue sky there too. Keep enjoying.

    1. It was a lovely day … thank you! We enjoyed the warm sunshine too. It rained today, so we are aware that we need to take advantage of lovely days when they come around at this time of year! xx

  2. As well getting a barge, it is also possible to walk along the canal from Little Venice all the way to Limehouse basin (apart from the two tunnels at Maida Vale and Islington where you walk above on the streets). I’ve done it a few times, but there are so many cyclists whizzing along the tow path these days that I avoid the canal footpath now. Camden Town is a great place to explore if you haven’t done so already…

    1. Thanks! We’re planning to do that walk at some stage – we had thought of starting at Vicky Park, but starting at Little Venice sounds like a great idea. Yes, we saw loads of cyclists along the tow path … it must be pretty scary avoiding them. We’ve been to Camden a number of times – really fascinating place to explore. I think yesterday it must have been the busiest ever – the last Saturday of the school holidays and great weather. Yikes, it was crammed!

  3. I had no idea Little Venice was so literary, Sunshine. Robert Browning must have gotten a lot of inspiration from this beautiful place. It looks like you had perfect weather for your day trip, too. I didn’t get there when I visited London, but from your photos it looks like I should put this on my must see list for future travels.

  4. I’d never heard of Little Venice! I always like reading you. Seriously, the tourism office needs to put you on its payroll, because your posts make me want to visit London again.

      1. Not anytime soon, I’m afraid. I don’t think the kids could handle it. When my wife I went, before we had kids, we made a point of not calling attention to ourselves, because we didn’t want to be the stereotypical “ugly Americans.” With the kids, I think we’d be like all the other loud American families you see on the tube. 🙂

      2. Ah Todd … there are so many different languages and accents on the tubes and the buses and all over London at any time, on any day, that you’d blend in perfectly!

  5. Love all the pictures and hearing your voice again. I love the picture of the old men napping in their socks. Priceless!
    Blessings to you dear friend,

    1. Isn’t that such an English sight? We just loved seeing them so relaxed and enjoying the sunshine. Blessings to you too, Jeanne … I will get back to visiting other blogs again, promise.

  6. I lived in London for the first 201 years of my life. Mother ensured that we saw all the tourist sites of course, but only later did I discover the canals. Particularly the Regents Canal that meanders through the area in which we were brought up and I have never been to Little Venice. So that’s on the list for the next visit.
    Thanks for sharing your day with us 🙂

  7. Sunshine, beautiful photographs! Thanks for allowing me to tag along. 🙂 It amazes me, being in the states, that Amsterdam as well as all of those countries west of us have such a rich past and long standing past….I mean celebrating a 700 year anniversary! WOW! What was your favorite part of it all?

    1. I love walking along the edge of the canal and seeing all the amazing canal boats and houseboats … must be such an interesting way of living. Glad you enjoyed the visit – thanks for coming along!

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