Sunrise Kayaking on Regent’s Canal
The sun was starting to get stronger and we were paddling towards an area of Victorian-era warehouses that have been converted into hip urban lofts. Danny explained that we were now in Camden Town, an inner city district that is anchored by several popular market areas. On the weekends this area is buzzing with people who enjoy strolling through the market to have a look at its eclectic merchandise on offer. Locals and tourists alike flock to Camden Town for inexpensive fashion, books, food, antiques and all sorts of bizarre goods. Funky cafes, restaurants and music venues round out the entertainment offerings in Camden Town. One of the real landmarks of Camden Town is “The World’s End”, which has been a pub since 1778.
Victorian-era buildings in Camden Town
The turning point for our paddling tour came when we reached Camden Lock, a historic lock that was completed in 1820 and helps to bridge a fall of 8 feet (2.4 metres). We turned around and slowly started to paddle back. The city had already woken up, road traffic on the bridges above us was increasing, and office workers were trying to get to work on foot as well. We, on the other hand, could enjoy our slow journey in the kayak and admire the narrow boats that were moored on the edge of the canal.
More narrow boats
Narrow boats are, as the word says, boats with a long and narrow design that were formerly used for transporting goods on Britain’s canal system. From the 1700s onwards and all the way into the mid 20th century, these working boats were originally drawn by horses on towpaths that flanked the canals; in the early 1900s the horses were replaced by diesel and steam-powered machines. Many of the narrow boats are carefully preserved and decoratively painted by their current owners, most of whom use them as house boats.
As we started approaching the end of our kayak tour, Danny explained the last landmark: London Zoo. Actually, Regent’s Canal bisects London Zoo, and we had a great view of the aviary that was right adjacent to the canal. As the world’s oldest scientific zoo, London Zoo is a major attraction. Opened in 1828, it became accessible to the public in 1847, and today houses more than 750 different species of animals.
Approaching the zoo
Special features include the African Bird Safari, the Aquarium, the Blackburn Pavilion which recreates a rainforest and cloud forest environment, the Butterfly Paradise, the Children’s Zoo as well as the recently opened Gorilla Kingdom which is currently home to four gorillas.
One of the residents of London Zoo
We had safely reached the end of our tour, and I had managed to operate my camera without falling into the water. Now we just had to get out of the kayak, but with Danny’s expert help, there was no problem, and we were back on terra firma thanks to the stability of these comfortable touring kayaks.
Danny provides me with information
Andrea and I both agreed that this early morning kayak tour on Regent’s Canal has been a real highlight of our trip. Who would ever have expected such a serene and peaceful outing in the often frenetic hustle and bustle of London….
Safely back from a great experience!
Still elated we thanked Danny for his expert guiding and for sharing his local knowledge, and we started to make our way back for a quick bite to eat before our next adventure: a guided tour of Southall, one of London’s exciting multicultural neighbourhoods.