London – Maida Vale/ Little Venice

I’m not going to lie, I have been very lucky in that during my life I have been fortunate enough to visit both the actual Venice, as well as the Little Venice in LA – so when I went to explore the Little Venice of London I was not as amazed as I may have been if I had never seen these other places. But I’m pretty sure the main hindrance affecting my initial view of the are was the masses of people visiting for the fair, all packed into the narrow walkways either side of the canal. But don’t get me wrong, I did love the area and it is certainly worth visiting.

A view from the bridge.
A view from the bridge.

I took the tube to Maida Vale in West London and decided to walk from there to Little Venice. The closest station is actually Warwick Avenue, but being me I wanted the walk to better explore that part of London. Maida Vale is spoilt with beautiful homes, towering high over the busy streets with that typical ‘London house’ look. The walk was not long at all, about 10 minutes to be precise, but it took me past a lot of nice places and it was nice to be away from the loud inner city. This is probably because the area is more suburban and therefore far more tranquil.

Warwick Avenue is similar to Maida Vale (there basically the same place) and feels even more like village lost in a city. It kind of feels like being out in the countryside. Little Venice itself is very fun to walk through, except my visit had annoyingly coincided with some kind of a fair. There were people everywhere ducking in and out of barges and examining stalls, but more annoyingly, also hovering across every inch of the path next to the canal. This made it very hard to peacefully walk around and explore the area, but after quickly adjusting I was able to enjoy my exploration.

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Little Venice, just north of Paddington, is a great place to visit in the summer. There are pubs spread across the canalside with gardens overlooking the canal itself, barges in abundance all with different amusing names and designs, and a great bridge for taking a good picture. If you walk up from Warwick Avenue tube station you will be lead to this bridge which essentially acts as the centre of Little Venice. On the left side is the confluence of Regent’s Canal and the Grand Union canal, the largest pool of water the canal has to offer. This beautifully picturesque spot is littered with willow trees and has an area for grabbing a drink and gawking at the view. From here you can literally walk in any direction alongside the canal, either downstream through Maida Vale towards Regent’s Park, or you can follow it upstream towards the west of the city. Either way, walking along the winding stream is gloriously relaxing in the heat of the summer sun.

Other things to do around this area include, visiting the London Canal Museum, hopping aboard a waterboat and travelling through the heart of the city. You could even get a boat to Regent’s Park and go to London Zoo, who wouldn’t want to get a boat to a zoo? You could pretend your going down the Congo River to go on some kind of a safari…
There is also the Prince Alfred & Formosa Dining Rooms hidden amongst the canals, Smith’s Bar & Grill and the Waterway which are all situated in perfect view of the canal if you fancy pretending your having a meal in Venice.

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I have to say though, despite all the area has to offer and its glorious views, it is not leaps and bounds ahead of other parts of the canal. If you go for a walk alongside the canal in Victoria Park, either towards Hackney Wick or into the city it is just as nice in terms of the picturesqueness. This part of the canal is a bit more ‘urban’ I guess you could say. Heading into Hackney Wick is a lot more like Shoreditch with it’s amazing graffiti and ‘edgy’ pubs. I will write a blog about Hackney Wick with more information (it also smells like beigels there…).

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– Charlie

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