London’s canal population has doubled in the last few years. More than 3,000 boats now continuously cruise in Greater London, with the largest concentration on the Regent’s Canal between Paddington and Mile End.
Some folks buy a boat intending to stay on the Regent’s Canal all year round. It doesn’t work. The Canal and River Trust will ultimately throw you off the canal if you can’t prove that you’re on a progressive journey.
So you’ll need to get used to moving around. Explore! Pootle up the Grand Union or the Lee, where it’s less crowded and leafier, and it's still a doddle to get into town.
Even from outside the city limits you can still whizz into central London in under an hour, so there’s no good reason to stay in the centre like a goal-hanger.
Starting with the Grand Union west of Paddington, here are some good places to moor up, each with estimated travel times to town (Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus).
West of Little Venice
Between Little Venice (Harrow Road bridge) and Kensal (Sainsbury’s) there are plenty of places to moor up, including some lovely quiet bits nearer to Kensal.
Bike 25 min
Bike 10 + Tube (Paddington/Warwick Avenue) 10 = 20 min (No bike: 30 min)
The visitor mooring is now very busy (though there’s space to double-moor). Instead, go a bit further up to Bridge 6 (Mitre Bridge) – it’s not far from Kensal Green tube.
Bike 30 min
Bike 5 + Tube/Overground (Kensal Green) 15 = 20 min (No bike: 35 min)
Visitor mooring by Sainsbury’s. Bit ugly but handy.
Bike 2 + Tube (Alperton) 30 = 32 min (No bike: 35 min)
Very pretty stretch by Horsenden Hill, either side of the Horsenden Lane bridge - ten minutes' walk from Perivale on the Central Line. Green stuff everywhere.
Bike 5 + Tube (Perivale) 25 = 30 min (No bike: 35 min)
The road to the station must be one of the foulest thoroughfares in the western world but the lovely leafy moorings and parkland more than make up for it. Apart from Greenford visitor mooring, there’s plenty of space on the offside along the park. And there’s a water point and a canalside pub. Lovely spot.
Bike 3 + Tube/Train (Greenford) 30 = 33 min (No bike: 45 min)
Bike 5 + Tube (Northolt) 35 = 40 min (No bike: 50 min)
Really lovely mooring on the offside, along the park.
Bike 10 + Train (Southall) 25 + Tube (Paddington) 10 = 45 min (No bike: 65 min)
Bike 10 + Tube (Northolt) 35 = 45 min (No bike: 65 min)
Plenty of places after the turn onto Grand Union mainline, pretty moorings but surrounding area is a bit industrial and a big Tesco spoils the fun a bit.
Bike 5 + Train (Hayes and Harlington) 25 + Tube (Paddington) 10 = 40 min (No bike: 45 min)
Bull’s Bridge to Yiewsley
If you want to get away from it all but not be too far from a station, there are plenty of places to moor along this stretch, often near other boats.
Bike 10 + Train (Hayes and Harlington) 25 + Tube (Paddington) 10 = 45 min (No bike: 50 min)
Not the prettiest moorings but still not bad – lots of space and very near the station.
Bike 1 (min) 5 (max) + Train (West Drayton) 25 + Tube (Paddington) 10 = 40 min (No bike: 50 min)
Gorgeous moorings by the park, beautiful in spring and autumn, and near facilities, though a bit of a trek to the station.
Bike 10 + Train (West Drayton) 25 + Tube (Paddington) 10 = 45 min (No bike: 70 min)
Lots of space between Cowley and north of Uxbridge – this is Zone 6 but still surprisingly quick to central London. You’re very near a good chandlery here, too, so it’s a good place for boat DIY.
Bike 5ish + Tube (Uxbridge) 50 = 55 min (No bike: 65 min)
One of the most beautiful moorings in the London area. Near pretty Denham and its pubs, not far from Uxbridge but in the country - better choice in summer than winter.
Bike 10 + Tube (Uxbridge) 50 = 60 min (No bike: 70 min)
Near Harefield Marina – lovely spot and a short ride to the mainline station.
Bike 10 + Train (Denham) 25 + Tube 5 = 40 min (No bike: 55 min)
There’s a very long visitor mooring here – lots of space – and it’s near the mainline station, too.
Bike 5 + Train (Rickmansworth) 25 + Tube 5 = 35 min (No bike: 45 min)
Bike 5 + Tube (Rickmansworth) 45 = 50 min (No bike: 60 min)
Croxley (just above Common Moor Lock)
Very peaceful spot right by the station. Sssshhh, don’t tell anyone.
Bike 3 + Tube (Croxley) 50 = 53 min (No bike: 55 min)
Watford (just above Cassio Bridge Lock)
Gorgeous place to moor - very quiet but very near town, too.
Bike 10 + Tube (Watford Met Line) 55 = 65 min (No bike: 80 min)
King’s Langley (south of Bridge 159)
Lots of mooring space, though near the motorway, but near the very fast train to London.
Bike 5 + Train (King’s Langley) 20 + Tube 5 = 30 min (No bike: 40 min)
Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring
In all of these towns there’s lots of space to moor near the station – Berkhamsted and Tring especially – and you can get into central London from here very quickly. They’re so near the station you don’t need a bike.
Walk 5 max + Train 35-40 + Tube 5 = 45-50 min