We live in London and we love the lively atmosphere, the museums, the architecture, even the bustle and hustle. During the Bank Holiday weekend we took the chance to take a relaxing and original self-drive boat along canals of London with GoBoat and it was really an amazing experience.
London has a 13 km canal network that was designed to join the river at the Grand Union Canal and thus facilitate the transport of raw materials and supplies in the time before the development of road transport.
From Paddington Basin, the canal then goes eastwards, passes the Regent’s Park, arrives to Camden, then proceeds southwards to join the Thames. The whole area is still navigable.
HOW DOES GOBOAT WORK?
GoBoat London allows you to rent electric self-drive boats, which can accommodate up to seven passengers. This is really the beauty of GoBoat as you choose where you go. The boat can be rented from one up to eight hours. You will then be the captain of the boat and drive through the canals!
There is no need for a boat license and no experience is required either. Once on board, GoBoat staff will come aboard with you to show how to drive the boat and make a small test drive together. It is in fact required to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the booked time for the tutorial, which also includes an explanation on the navigation, the canals and the vesting with the lifejackets.
IS IT DIFFICULT TO DRIVE THE BOAT ALONG THE CANALS?
The boats are electric and do not reach high speed. For us drove my partner who enjoyed the tour too. The hardest part is when you have to stop to pass another boat in the opposite direction. It happens in some points of the canal. Also, don’t mind waves or nausea because it’s all very relaxing, the boats go at 4 mph and are very stable.
INSTRUCTIONS AND MAP
During the briefing the staff will explain the various rules for the navigation. The most important to remember is to let the boat to pass in the opposite direction on the right. They will provide you with a map of the canals with the time taken to reach the various points of interest along the route.
WHAT DO YOU SEE ALONG THE CANALS?
We drove in a truly unusual, silent, green London, which relaxed all of us, included both the children! Among the various points of interest that you can admire along the way are the London Zoo (where the aviary is located on one side and the enclosure with the hyenas on the other), the Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill, and Little Venice. You can also admire some beautiful Regency villas that are located at the edge of Regent’s Park and the The Cumberland Basin, the Feng Shang Princess floating Restaurant.
MAIDA HILL TUNNEL
To reach Camden Loch, you need to pass Maida Hill Tunnel, 25 meters long.
It is a long and narrow tunnel and can only pass one boat at a time. So before entering the tunnel you have to make sure that no one arrives from the opposite direction. It is also dark inside and although the boat has a small light in the front does not add much illumination inside the tunnel. It’s best to keep looking forward to the other end of the tunnel to stay straight.
PICNIC ON BOARD
The boats are all equipped with a small table (also made with recycled and sustainable materials) in the middle of the boat, in order to have an aperitif or a picnic. I have to say this is one of the nicest aspects of the tour. We even brought plastic goblers (which we use for our picnic) to enjoy a Prosecco in company!
A few days before booking, we received an email with some instructions. Including the indication of how much alcohol can be brought on board:
Four cans or bottles of beer/lager
Or, a bottle of 750 ml of wine/champagne/Prosecco
Or, a 1 litre bottle of Pimms
It is then expressly indicated that the captain of the boat must remain sober throughout the journey.
GOBOAT: AN ECOLOGICAL AND SUSTAINABLE PROJECT
The boats are electric and made 80% of recycled plastic. You can also take care of cleaning the canal from waste, you will be provided with a special bag to do so.
Dis we love it? Yes, we did, especially the slow pace. Really approved!
Also be done with children or visiting relatives. Instead of sitting in a restaurant you have lunch around the canals.
Not sure about driving your own boat?
Why not choose a Waterbus Boat Trip?
If you are interested in other less touristy things to do in London, you may be interested in reading St Katharine Docks, a pretty small marina just behind Tower Bridge!
See you soon
Disclaimer: The boat ride was offered to us by GoBoat. However, the photos, texts and impressions and judgements are exclusively mine and owned by Mum What Else.
This sounds amazing! I had no idea you can do this here. We once did a fabulous Isar River boat trip (of sorts – it was a log raft that held 100 people, a band, a bar and a loo!) and we floated past some wonderful stuff, I would love to do similar (slightly more serene sounding) in London! Thanks so much for joining in with #CulturedKids
Thanks Emma! We noticed the boats when we came out after a day at the zoo and we loved so much the idea that we wanted to discover more 🙂
I had so much fun doing this with my girls a couple of years ago, and definitely want to try the Kingston one now. That Maida Vale tunnel though – eek!! #CULTUREDKIDS
I know of the new Kingstone one, definitely to try 🙂