london panoramic cityscape
The Paddington Arm WalkLondon
Grand Union Canal
London
TfL Fare Zone 1 to 5

 

 

Walking along the towpath of a canal is a very pleasant experience. The very nature of a canal means it is level, easy walking with lots to see. The Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal runs from Little Venice, Paddington to Bull’s Bridge Junction at Hayes, Hillingdon, Middlesex.

With a length of approximately 13½ miles (22 km) the canal passes through a mainly urban industrial landscape with some rural idylls. It is a level canal with no locks but crosses a major motor route on an aqueduct.

The canal was authorised in 1795 and built in 1801 to avoid using the tidal Thames. When the Regent’s Canal was built the Thames was accessed through the massive Regent’s Canal ship dock (now called Limehouse Dock). There are many interesting things to see along the Paddington Arm for both walkers and ‘boatees’.

Little Venice
Starting at Little Venice, behind Paddington Mainline Railway Station is a set of elegant locks and a quaint white toll keeper’s house. This was built to gauge the narrow boats for tolls.
 
Google Maps - Little Venice

 
The canal passes under the busy A40 Westway road past high-rise blocks of flats and offices. The railway lines leaving Paddington run beside the canal and Great Western trains thunder past. The flats give way to rather nice terraces of Victorian houses in the Harrow Road with their gardens stretching down to the canal.
 
Kensall Green Cemetery
Just beyond Harrow Road, at Old Oak Common, the canal passes the Victorian Kensall Green Cemetery. This cemetery is the last resting place of a number of famous Victorians – Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Anthony Trollope and William Makepeace Thackeray. It is worth making a detour to wander through this well ordered cemetery with its avenues of trees and huge monuments. Beside the canal bank can be seen the landing piers where the barges offloaded the coffins.
 
Wormwood Scrubs Prison
Kensall Town came into existence in 1840 when the railway arrived. Back on the towpath, the towers of Wormwood Scrubs prison can be glimpsed across the railway sidings. However, in the last 50 years the area has been carefully redeveloped and the towpath is bordered by willow trees and in summer wildflowers abound giving the industrial landscape a rural feel.
 
Along this stretch was the giant Heinz food factory, demolished in 2002. The raw ingredients for ‘Baked Beans’ would arrive from the docks by canal barge and unload straight into the factory.
 
North Circular Bypass
Suddenly the canal splits into two channels and is carried over the busy North Circular bypass on an aqueduct. The old aqueduct built in 1933 had a bronze Middlesex Coat of Arms on it. This Coat of Arms now stands on the ‘island’ between the two water channels.
 
Once over the aqueduct, the roar of the traffic is left behind and the canal continues on to Alperton and Ealing. Ducks, swans, moorhens, coots, terrapins and even herons inhabit the canal here and anglers find good fishing. We seem to be right out in the countryside but are in fact skirting the green fairways of Greenford Golf Course on our way to Horsenden Hill and Perivale Wood.
 
Horsenden Visitor Centre
The Horsenden Visitor Centre is right beside the canal and a good spot to stop for a rest.
 
The Black Horse Pub
Another pleasant spot to call in and seek refreshment is The Black Horse Pub at Greenford. There is nothing nicer on a fine day than sitting in the pub’s garden overlooking the canal. 
 
Southall - Little India
The urban sprawl of Greater London has stretched out to include Ealing and Southall, but the canal’s route provides much needed green space at the bottom of many people’s gardens. Southall is sometimes called ‘Little India’ and is a fascinating suburb to wander around. The shops sell Indian food, produce, saris, etc., displaying their goods on the pavement. The cinemas show Bollywood films and the cafes serve real Indian food. Join the locals at long tables and enjoy with them the TV in the corner playing Indian entertainment day and night!
 
Bull's Bridge
The Paddington Branch is now nearing its junction with the Main Arm of the Grand Union Canal at Bull’s Bridge near Slough. The terminus is marked by a delightful old brick bridge painted white. As you approach there is no hint that on the other side is an enormous shopping centre – suburbia again!
 
Getting There
Using London Transport to Access the Canal
To plan your journey use the Transport for London 'Journey Planner'
 
Starting from the Paddington (Little Venice) end, the canal can be accessed from:
Paddington Tube Station (TfL Fare Zone 1)     Bakerloo Line
Warwick Avenue Station (TfL Fare Zone 2)     Bakerloo Line
 
Walking West:
Westbourne Park Station (TfL Fare Zone 2) Hammersmith & City Line.
The Canal and canal walk (west) access is less than 437 yards (400 metres) distant.
 
For viewing the canal within a reasonable walk:
Willesden Junction Station     Bakerloo Line and London Overground Line
Harlesden Station                 Bakerloo Line and London Overground Line (TfL Fare Zone 3)
 
The next access point near a tube station is from:
Alperton Station (Tfl Fare Zone 4)    Piccadilly Line.
A short walk down Ealing Road takes the Visitor to the canal towpath.
 
Further west is:
Greenford tube Station (TfL Fare Zone 4)    Central Line.
A short walk down Oldfield Lane towards The Black Horse Public House takes the visitor to the Canal.
 
Closest station to the junction of the Paddington Arm with its parent, the Great Junction Canal (now called the Grand Union Canal):
Hayes and Harlington National Rail Station (TfL Fare Zone 5). Suburban services from Paddington mainline station to Hayes and Harlington station are provided by First Group plc and First Great Western.
 
Visitors can also use the Heathrow Connect - Paddington to Hayes and Harlington – enquire at Paddington mainline station booking office.  
 
Google Maps - Paddington Arm Canal Walk/ Bull's Bridge