Sunday, 8 June 2014

A soaking, locked gates and Victoria Park

Tuesday 3rd June

As we were finishing breakfast the Black Prince which had left earlier returned and moored on the bubbles.  We popped out and told them we were moving shortly, much to their relief – they had moored quite late last night on the rings with ‘do not moor’ notices on and had been told to move on early.  There seems to be a lot of minor maintenance going on which has reduced the numbers of moorings available.  They were happy to put up with our dodgy mooring; the railings in the foreground are on the gangway to the widebeam behind us.

1 moored at pad basin

We stopped at the water point by the floating cafe, tying up to their offside dolly – why are they allowed to moor permanently so close to the water point?  We didn’t want to go through the bridge as we were turning to go down the Regent’s canal.  It was a bit awkward getting 2 cassettes off to empty though!

It began to rain as we set off, not quite enough to need the full wet-weather gear though.  As we approached the residential moorings at Lisson Grove we were astonished to see a fox trotting past the end boat – at 10 in the morning, bold as brass, though it scarpered as soon as it heard me speak.  We were surprised at the rural feel of this part of the canal as we approached the Zoo, though as the towpath is entirely concrete it rather spoils the illusion.  The aviaries looked quite startling from the canal.

4 almost rural at blow-up bridge   5 snowdon aviary london zoo

The rain became persistent as we started down the locks at Camden, and there weren’t many people around in the drizzle.  It’s a long way to Liverpool from here!

7 waiting at hampstead road lock

  8 how far to liverpool

As we approached the middle lock the rain started to really hammer down.  There was a boat ‘Fickle Finger’ moored on the landing below, but facing down – as I approached, the owner came out with the annoying news that the bottom lock gates were still padlocked shut.  So we locked down and moored at the landing above the locked gates.  He had already reported it, but we thought there would be no harm in calling again – there was no stoppage registered, he had already been waiting for half an hour and no-one had been back in touch with him.  A call finally came through while we were enjoying a cup of tea.  When the CRT guy appeared, he confessed he had unlocked the top gates but had forgotten the bottom ones.  He was full of apologies, but we felt sorry for ‘Fickle Finger’ – a single-hander going to Teddington - and he was worried he wouldn’t get to Limehouse in time to catch the tide.

We pulled in for lunch opposite Central St Martin’s at King’s Cross as the rain finally stopped.  There was a lot of activity on the steps opposite – when we walked up to have a look we discovered temporary flower beds were being created as part of the Chelsea Fringe.

11 looking towards central st martins granary square  12 chelsea flower show fringe

We needed milk so went to have a look at the fountains in Granary Square before getting directions to a shop from the Visitor Centre.  It must look more impressive than this at night! especially when the lines of jets play at different times and rhythms – this is just a small area in the photo.

13 granary square fountains

Around the back of the building work, nearer where people live and work, the hoardings are mirrored and painted with flowers and herbs – attractive, but the reflections make them look a bit strange sometimes!  The car in the second picture was behind me to my right.

 14 reflective murals near central st martins  16 reflective murals near central st martins 3

The rain held off for the rest of the day as we cruised through some grotty bits of London towards Victoria Park.  There were a couple of spaces before Old Ford lock, and as we had seen no-one on the move since lunchtime, we went down the lock to wind and returned to a nice gap about 25 yards from the park entrance.

Vicky Park, as our daughter tells us it is known locally, has some interesting things to see – we only walked round the West park this evening and there is a much larger area to explore to the east.

17 chinese pagoda victoria park   19 fountain victoria park

22 dogs of alcibiades v park 2            23 dogs of alcibiades v park 2

The statues are known as the Dogs of Alcibiades and have an interesting history, which you can read if you enlarge the photo below.

21 dogs of alcibiades v park 1

There are other opinions on their significance and if you are into ley lines and similar you might like to follow this link -  It has some interesting historical info though if you are of a sceptical tendency you could well find the rest of it a bit wacky.

It’s good to hear birdsong at a mooring again.  There was no wildlife at the basin except for a few temporary visitors – a couple of mallard and a pochard which must have come down from the pool at Little Venice, and a cormorant and heron which came and tried some fishing – though we saw nothing but rubbish in the water! 

7 miles, 9 locks


  1. Hi,
    Now you're really in my territory - i was brought up about 15 mins walk from Victoria Park (never Vicky Park in my day), and lived there till I was 21, and my mother lived there till 2000. It was one of the places the school used for football and cricket. I must have walked through those gates every week for years without thinking about or even noticing those dog statues. Is the lido still there? Are boats still for hire on the lake? We used to go to a pub just outside the park -if you go out of the gate at the northern end, it is about 200 yards along on the left - I can't remember it's name.

  2. HI Ron,
    I think the dog statues have been re-sited since your time! No lido but our daughter went to the newish one in London Fields recently. The boating lake is still operating though. We went to a great pub the day after this close to Queen's Gate - see the next blog - but that has had several names in the past.
    Debby x