Did you know London had canals? I didn’t! Hidden away from the bustling city streets, the noise of traffic, and the commuting rat race, lies a series of peaceful waterways that help you forget you’re in the middle of a mega-city.
Last week, on a beautiful summer’s evening after work, I was kindly invited to explore these canals by GoBoat London. I hopped aboard with seven of my friends, equipped with a variety of picnic food, and took a trip through this peaceful haven that is London’s best kept secret.
What is GoBoat?
Go Boat is a concept that has come over from Denmark and involves small self-piloted boats that have been let loose on London’s canals. The boats are made from 80% recycled plastic which is an even bigger incentive to give them a try, and holds a maximum of 8 people. It is designed to be social, having seats situated around the edge of the boat with a table in the middle, so guests can face each other and bring along food and drink for a water picnic.
Alcohol is allowed on board but is limited to 2 cans of beer per person, or a bottle of wine per 2 people. As this is a self-driving boat, one guest must be the designated driver and remain sober throughout the journey. This worked well for us, as the only guy who doesn’t drink also happened to be the only one with an actual boating license (you don’t need this to drive!) so he took on the role as captain for the journey.
Most of the canals are quite wide, and in the open, but there are a couple of tunnels to navigate through. One is particularly long, dark and quite narrow, which reminded us a lot of the boat scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, so of course, we had to put on the song as we sailed through.
All trips start and end at Merchant Square, which is about a 10 minute walk from both Edgware and Paddington underground. We had 2 hours on board which gave us enough time to take the boat through Little Venice, around the back of Regents Park, past London Zoo and up to a floating Chinese restaurant which was our halfway point before turning around and heading back. You can rent the boat for 3 hours which would allow you to explore further afield to Camden Lock, so I would definitely recommend renting the boat for slightly longer if you have enough time. The boat is quite easy to navigate (although I had difficulty staying in a straight line!) but you get a short lesson on how to drive before you are let loose on your own.
With a max speed of approximately 4 knots, this is a very relaxing journey, allowing you to casually cruise the canals at a leisurely pace, taking in the surroundings and the chance to spot some wildlife. We had so much fun on board. It was great to get everyone together and catch up after work, and everyone contributed to the picnic which allowed for a lovely spread! We also had a small portable speaker to play some music along the way, which was a really nice touch.
Aside from GoBoat, there are so many other activities going on along the waterways, including paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing. If you want to explore the canals in a more adventurous way, there are lots of opportunities to do so and as soon as the hot weather returns, I’ll be trying some of them out!
I would definitely recommend GoBoat as an activity to do in London. It is a great way to see another side of the city, and a perfect way to catch up with your friends, whilst having a water picnic.
For more info on how to book, prices, and tours, click here: https://goboat.co.uk/
* I received complimentary tickets to review this experience