19. Onward to inlanding – 1989

Grand Union:

This is the nineteenth and final post in the series Onward to Inlanding – 1989. The archive of the trip can be accessed via the Inlanding – Trip Reports tab at the top of the page.

Day 19. Little Venice to City Road Lock 


4 miles – 4 locks – 2 tunnels – 4 hours

The second day at Little Vencie has been spent domestically; emptying the loo, filling the water tanks, tidying the living cabin, collecting petrol, and then exploring, walking, slowing down. After the weeks of travelling I need to stop, and slow right down, and pause to draw breath before starting the final short stretch along the Regents Canal, through Camden and onward to Islington and friends on boats.

I’m drawn into the city. I explore. I visit the pound between Islington tunnel and City Road lock where I plan to make my home base. I visit the pubs. I sit by the water. The day passed contentedly.

Today, Tuesday, I took the final step. A fascinating step too. Landmarks I know well from train visits to London previously, Camden Lock, St. Pancras pass me by… yet viewed from the canal they take on new meaning, for much of the route the canal slips past quietly and below street level. I deeply enjoyed these quiet hours crossing a frantic, noisy and bustling capital city.

It was a gentle arrival.  A summer-warm afternoon. A rug on the towpath. People joining us, many mugs of tea and good conversation. I’d arrived.

An evening drinking with G. Excited conversation about my new life. We returned to the boats, ‘Lily’ temporarily breasted up to G. and K’s boat. We sit outside, a large bottle of wine shared. The hiss of the tilly lamp keeping us company as the conversation faded and a tipsy kind of reverie took over…

And so, with Arthur Ransome’s assertion that houses are just badly built boats so firmly grounded you couldn’t think of moving them ringing in my head, I took a perfectly functional 1928 Thames slipper launch, and began making a home.

The following photographs below, most without comment, are an attempt to capture this final day…

(above) Leaving the Paddington Arm into the Pool of Little Venice

(above) The end of the Maida Vale tunnel looking back towards Little Venice

(above) a second view of the tunnel, with light at the end of…

(above) another age, a horse-drawn wide barge, Regents Canal 1950’s

(above) the devastation left 10.10.1874 when ‘Tilbury’ carrying gunpowder & petroleum exploded at 3am.killing 4x people and destroying the Macclesfield Bridge. Rebuilt, it’s been known since as Blow-Up Bridge.

(above & below) two views of Blow-Up Bridge

(above) the utterly out of place chinese pagoda restaurant at Cumberland Basin

(above) Regency houses who’s back gardens stretch down to the water… what a place to live… a mooring to die for.

(above) the top of Camden Road Lock

(above) and old view of Dingwall’s Basin

(above) action in the lock…

(above) below Camden High Street having descended the first of three locks…

(above) St. Pancras Yacht Basin [this would one day become Lily Jane’s home mooring, and where she was ultimately sold]

(above) the basin again…

(above) approaching Islington Tunnel

(above) closer…

(above) through the tunnel in the wide section before City Road lock

(above) LONDON

I’m home.

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