Walk 1882 - printer friendly version
The Limehouse Cut from Bow Locks Walk
Author - Barry Mackie
Length - 2.0 miles / 3.3 km
Ascent - 30 feet / 9 metres
Grade - easy
Start - OS grid reference TQ382824
Lat 51.523613 + Long -0.009342827
Postcode E3 3TE (approx. location only)
To the tourist or occasional visitor, London's waterways are limited to the River Thames. Less well known is the canal network that once served as a vital transport and trading link, but is now predominantly used by leisure craft. Essentially a continuation of the Lee Navigation, the Limehouse Cut links the Lee to the Limehouse Basin and then to the River Thames. This route offers a much easier alternative for river craft than having to navigate the difficult sweeping and tidal bends of the River Lea.
This is an easy and traffic free walk through the heart of East London along the towpath and then around the Basin. The path is good although there maybe some puddles in the middle section of the walk after heavy rainfall. The walk starts at the west side of Bow Locks, (Grid ref TQ372 814) the twentieth and last lock on the Lee Navigation, and from here the views are impressive. To your left is the River Lea, centre stage in the distance is Canary Wharf, and on your right, the start of the Limehouse Cut.
After a slight sweep the Cut straightens to a south westerly direction and with some high buildings close to its edges. It is often described as being as 'overshadowed', and so it is. That said, when we did this walk (late afternoon in autumn) the sun shone over the canal and some of the surrounding buildings, and as you’d expect, this brightened it up.
Of course, all walks are unique and have their own particular attractions, and this one with Canary Tower (the highest building in Britain) already seen and with even better views of it to come, has yet another. The early section of the path is rather nice with a non-slip surface and overall has a very good look about it. This path apparently floats on the surface of the canal, and has won awards. This was a first for us, we've walked many paths, some good, some not so good, but never on one celebrated quite like this one has been!
The walk along the straight section of the canal is rather peaceful. Here you are very close to the centre of the largest city in Britain, and of course there is the hum of traffic, but it's no more than that. Three or four road bridges cross over the canal, and about half way along this part, there is a small mooring, with two or three canal boats moored, which does give an opportunity to view these boats at close range. Towards the end of the canal it slowly veers to the right, and in front of you is the Limehouse Basin, with a number of boats moored over on the far side.
Wandering around the basin, there’s plenty to see, including the excellent way in which the whole area has been redeveloped. Also look out for the locks on the Regents Canal and on the link to the River Thames, and the views back to Canary Wharf. There are information boards on the history of the basin and just to the North, the accumulator tower, a surviving remnant from the past, when this was a working dock. The way out to Limehouse tube station is to the northwest of the basin and is well signed. If you want to get back to Bromley-by-Bow, then it’s the next stop along the line.