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Along Regent's Canal

Explore the Regent's Canal from the Thames to the Islington Tunnel.

 

Minimum time 2h00

Distance 10 miles (16.1km)

Difficulty Easy

Suggested map  OS Explorer 173 London North

Start/finish  Booty's Riverside Bar, Limehouse; grid ref: TQ 360808

Trails/tracks  mostly surfaced tow path; some on-road sections

Landscape  urban waterside

Public toilets  scarce

Tourist information  Greenwich, tel 0870 608 2000

Bike hire  Wharf Cycles, 21-23 Westferry Road, Docklands, E14 8JH, tel 020 7987 2255

Recommended pub  Booty's Riverside Bar, Limehouse

Notes Take care on narrow tow paths shared with pedestrians. A free permit is necessary to cycle along the Regent's Canal (www.waterscape.com)

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© Automobile Association 2008. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

Getting to the start

Booty's Riverside Bar is on Narrow Street, best approached from the east via Westferry Road. There is an underground car park at Westferry Circus (east of Narrow Street).

1 Turn left along Narrow Street. At the entrance to Limehouse Basin continue straight ahead; cycling is not permitted on the tow path here. At Colt Street turn left, then turn left again into Newell Street and follow it round to the right under the railway viaduct. St Anne's Limehouse is a striking landmark to the right.

2 At the former Limehouse Town Hall use the toucan crossing to reach the other side of both Commercial Road and the Canal. Use the cycle lane to join Salmon Lane. At Rhodeswell Street the route continues straight ahead, leaving the traffic behind until Islington.

3 Don't take the footbridge over the canal, but turn right and use the ramp to join the tow path at Salmon Lane Lock. Follow the tow path under the railway and past the solitary remaining chimney. Ignore the National Cycle Network sign inviting you to head inland at Mile End Stadium and remain on the tow path. Just past the Ben Jonson Road bridge is the Ragged School Museum's tow path café which you may be lucky enough to find open. The overhanging warehouses on the west side of the canal are a feature of this section. Beyond Mile End Lock look for the water feature on the right-hand side.

4 A bridge carries the tow path over the junction between the Regent's Canal and the Hertford Union Canal. Beyond Old Ford Lock there is some respite from the post-industrial landscape with a pleasantly green section alongside Victoria Park. Soon a gasometer looms ahead and the tow path passes under the road and railway.

5 The tow path then crosses a bridge over the entrance to Kingsland Basin. Beyond Sturt's Lock there are some larger permanently moored boats - these are converted Thames lighters that form part of the adjacent photographic studio complex. City Road Basin can be seen on the left, closely followed by City Road Lock. The entrance of Islington Tunnel soon looms.

6 Take the ramp up to road level. Head straight up Duncan Street to sample the attractions of The Angel Islington before tackling the return ride to Limehouse.

The ride passes the Ragged School Museum, which is housed in three canalside warehouses, originally built to store lime juice and general provisions, but later used by Dr Barnardo to house the largest ragged school in London. The Museum was opened in 1990 to bring the unique history of this school to life. In a re-created classroom of the period you can experience how children in the Victorian East End were taught. Poor local children received a free education, breakfast, dinner and help finding their first job. The warehouses were used as a day school until 1908, and evening classes and Sunday schools continued until 1915.

The Angel Islington is instantly familiar to millions of people who have played the British version of the Monopoly board game. The area of Islington takes its name from an inn that once stood here. In the early 1800s it became a coaching inn; the first staging post outside the City of London. A local landmark, the inn was mentioned by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist. The site of the pub is now occupied by a bank. Angel underground station boasts the longest escalators in Western Europe, with a vertical rise of 90ft (27m) and a length of 197ft (60m).

Why do this bike ride?

This ride links the maritime history of London's Docklands with the urban sophistication of Islington. It makes use of the tow path of the Regent's Canal, opened in 1820 to link the Grand Union Canal's Paddington Arm with the River Thames. The tow path is an ideal route for cyclists to skirt the centre of London, free from traffic.

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