Today has challenged a lot of stereotypes of London weather as, instead of grey skies, rain and dreariness, we set off to ride the eastern end of the Regents Canal in sunshine and twenty something degrees. Before heading off we decide to check out Shoreditch Grind which is just on the opposite side of the Old Street roundabout. They serve excellent coffee!
It’s then onto the tube and down to Bank, to change to the DLR. Two stops later and we’re at Limehouse and the Limehouse Basin; where the Regents Canal is linked to the Thames.
It doesn’t look like many narrow boats have been coming and going through the connecting lock though, as a green slime floats on top of the water, showing little sign of disturbance.
There’s a rack of Boris bikes just to the right of that overpass you can see and we go through the routine of inserting our cards, getting the release code and liberating our trusty bikes which are free to use for the first thirty minutes. It becomes a fun challenge to ride for just under thirty minutes before finding a rack to dock the bike and then look around for a distraction; like a cafe or pub, before liberating another bike to continue on.
The canal is proving a fascinating juxtaposition of the old and the new; as the East End of London transmogrifies and the cockneys from Hackney watch the familiar blend with the unusual.
We became aware of the canal when researching our trip and noticing a couple of stretches of water near where we were planning to book an apartment in Hoxton. A bit of googling and it became clear that this was a part of London that it would be fun to explore.
The beautiful sunshine today created lovely reflections in the water and perfect conditions for the joggers and walkers out along the towpath.
Compared with the upper arm of the canal above Islington, this reach provides an elongated pool through parks and refurbished warehouses; new developments and towering reminders of the past.
I can’t help hearing the lyrics of ‘Dirty Old Town’ by Ewan Maccoll in my head as we cycle past the massive frames of the gasworks.
I met my love,
By the gas works wall.
Dreamed a dream,
By the old canal.
Apparently Maccoll was writing about Salford, but it’s easy to imagine how this part of London must also have worn the soot and dust of the industrial era.