A 9.3-mile almost traffic-free jog through the heart-and-soul of London.
From the once industrial (now hip and alternative) East End, past the grand mansions surrounding The Regent’s Park, to the tranquility of Little Venice, this is a classic London run.
Start: Limehouse Station. From the south (Thames) side of Limehouse Station make your way east to Limehouse Basin.
0.1mi: Limehouse Basin. Keep to the north side of the basin, cross the footbridge over Regent’s Canal and turn left to join the canal towpath heading north.
0.5mi: Mile End Park. On your right is the elongated (from north to south) Mile End Park. You can run through the meandering trail that runs parallel to the towpath through the park for a change of scenery.
Interest: In the park the Tower Hamlets Council has marked out two half-mile circuits designed for walking, but can obviously be run as well. Look for the yellow “Walk a Mile” signs.
1.7mi: Victoria Park. The towpath runs directly next to Victoria Park and this provides a great option for adding on.
Interest: Victoria Park is about 2.7 miles (4.4km) around and is divided into two sections by an intersecting road. The nearest section to the canal is the most picturesque with formal gardens surrounding a stunning lake.
2.4mi: Gas Holders. Keep on going along the tow path. Navigating this run couldn’t be more simple.
Interest: On the other side of the canal here is a collection of the strange round steel structures that can be found all over London. These are gas holders that expand upwards inside the steel frame when filled with gas.
4.4mi: Islington Tunnel Diversion. Here the canal dives into the towpath-less Islington Tunnel, which means it’s time for runners to find their way through the city streets again. This is a 1km detour (if you don’t get lost) and the key is to stick as closely as possible to the perfectly straight heading of the canal tunnel. There are small way-markers embedded in the pavement (look for either the brass “Towpath Link” plates or the newer blue plates with the wavy water symbol). Here are the directions:
Interest: The famous brick facade (not visible from the canal) of St Pancras station was finished in 1876 and is a truly iconic London building.
6.6mi: Camden Lock Markets. Pedestrian traffic can be a little heavy through here, so be prepared to walk some sections.
Interest: If you find that you’re a little peckish or could seriously do with a caffeine boost for the rest of your run, there are many options available to you here and in the surrounding streets. You can even get your latest PB time tattooed on your arm for all to see here, if you’re that way inclined.
7.0mi: The Regent’s Park. When the canal next takes a 90-degree turn to your right you know you’re at The Regent’s Park. If you want to explore this (to the south of the canal) or Primrose Hill (to the north) head up to road level at the next bridge.
Interest: The Regent’s Park is 2.75mi around (if you follow the Outer Circle road) but has many beautiful trails and gardens through the interior to explore as well. Primrose Hill is perfect for catching a view of the city. A detour to the summit (entering Primrose Hill from the east and leaving in the west to join the canal further up stream) will add an extra 700m to your journey (well worth it).
8.0mi: Park Road. The canal passes under Park Road and then a large rail bridge before reaching a large dock for narrowboats (a small, but vibrant, community).
Interest: If living in one of these cute boats tickles your fancy, a quick search online reveals many London narrowboats for sale. It’s a good way to buy house and vehicle all in one ... and you’ll have a brilliant running trail on your doorstep. This “village” is also just a block south of the famous Lord’s Cricket Ground.
8.4mi: Maida Vale Hill Diversion. Just after the narrowboat “village” there is another tunnel and diversion. This is only a short 400m detour via Aberdeen Place (runs in the same direction as the tunnel beneath it) and then Blomfield Road, which runs parallel to the canal with only a fence separating it from the towpath.
8.9mi: Little Venice. Begin an anti-clockwise circuit of this junction of three waterways by running around the top of it (north side), crossing the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal, and when along the southern side turning right into the Paddington Basin (running on its righthand or western side). Follow the signs to Paddington Station.
This route also has several wonderful add-on options at Victoria Park, The Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill, and Grand Union Canal. On the other hand if you’re after a shorter run, you can cut this in half by finishing at Angel Tube Station in Islington. By the way, the paths running next to canals are called towpaths because horses were once used to tow the canal boats.
Distance: 9.3mi (15km)
Surface: Sealed, brick, & cobbles.
Terrain: Flat with a gentle climb and some stairs.
Traffic Warning: There are two tunnels on the canal where there is no towpath so you need to navigate streets briefly. Also look out for cyclists and other pedestrians (especially under bridges).
Weather Warning: Towpaths are slippery when wet/icy.
Times: Open at all times (but best avoided after dark).
Toilets: Mile End Park (charged), Victoria Park, Islington (charged, near Chapel Market), The Regent’s Park (at The Hub), & Paddington Station (charged, also have showers).
Start Point: Limehouse Station, Borough of Tower Hamlets, E14 (3.9mi east of central London).
Finish Point: Paddington Station, City of Westminster, W2 (2.8mi northwest of central London).
GETTING THERE (Rail)
Start: Limehouse DLR/National Rail Station (c2c line).
Finish: Paddington Station (Bakerloo, District, Circle, Hammersmith & City, First Great Western, Heathrow Connect, & Heathrow Express).
Thumbs Up: A long, largely uninterrupted, easy-to-follow run with some beautiful scenery and top notch options for adding on.
Thumbs Down: Dodging cyclists in tunnels and navigating Islington.
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