I wondered ” Where would London’s canal paths take me on my bike?” It was going to be my objective to find out…I had only cycled a tiny section of the Regents Canal and that wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy my curiosity of the hidden waterways that quietly trickle through London.
I had enjoyed pedalling west alongside Regents canal. It was quiet and peaceful. The nature of the canal seemed to mix happily with the urban sprawl. This time I was going to cycle in the opposite direction and head east.
I joined the canal at Angel and found that some of the canal path was a little tight for space, especially if there were people walking. Thank goodness for bells! The Graffiti out this way is pretty impressive and large in size and I found myself stopping frequently to admire it. There are lots of low bridges and hidden bends so going slow is vital on this route.
Derelict warehouses can be spotted dotted about and you cant miss Hackney’s gas works structure. At times this path can look a bit worn and industrial, but you if you are patient and give it a chance this canal surprises you.
I soon cycled upon the edge of Victoria park with its leafy trees sheltering the colourful canal boats moored as a pit stop. Further along lots of new apartments and offices have sprung up and it seems to give the tired canal a fresh new look.
I enjoyed watching a group of laughing children splashing about with paddles as they experienced a kayaking lesson. I encountered little spaces of green cluttered with sculptures and dog walkers.
I stopped and locked my bike up to experience a slice of history at the Ragged School Museum. The museum is housed in a group of three canalside buildings which once formed the largest “ragged” or free school in London. It has a Victorian East End Kitchen and a reconstructed Victorian classroom for visitors to explore. The place allows you the opportunity to experience what life was like for the Victorian poor of the East End of London. It is a real hands on museum and the volunteers who work here are more than happy to chat to you about the area’s history and its artefacts.
Not far from the museum my bike ride came to an end at the Limehouse basin where the canal meets the Thames. Limehouse basin is full of yachts and towering modern apartments. I cycled around the basin and ventured off the canal to discover a couple of very old cosy pubs which sit on the River Thames. A great spot for lunch and chance for a drink. The question I asked myself was “Where do I go next?”