We left the basin at 9:00 this morning. There were a number of unknowns about the journey, and we wanted to give ourselves time to deal with any one of the possibilities. The first issue was how easy would it be to get up the Regent's Canal and onto a suitable mooring at the top of the Hertford Canal (aka Duckett's) - or even past that, and onto the River Lee (or Lea!). There are lots of moored boats in this area. Sometimes two deep, sometimes on both sides of the canal. Sometimes both. This was going to slow our progress considerably, we thought.
So we left the Paddington Arm at Little Venice, turning right onto the Regent's Canal, through the Maida Hill Tunnel, and on into the Regent's Park.
I was very disappointed with the canal at this point. I had naϊvely expected it to pass through the London Zoo at ground level, and that we'd be waving at the orangutans and ostriches as we passed through. Nah! Silly me! We were in a cut, and the best we got was a view of an enclosure of some white, unidentified birds. And the Mandarin Ducks swimming alongside the boat were far more interesting than them.
The mansions and mansion flats along this stretch are amazing. They put me in mind of our gaff in St Albans. It's ad, though, that these grand properties overlook a canal - a canal named after Prince Albert, no less - whose waters are littered, and whose walls and all other available vertical surfaces are graffitied. And as we moved on through Hoxton, Haggerston, Bethnal Green and South Hackney, it remained that way.
Camden Lock, famous, iconic even, a popular venue for visitors and hangout for locals, is in a shameful state. The locks are fenced off from the towing path, and the paddle mechanisms have to be locked. It's very sad.