Journey to Mile End


This is a trip of 4 miles, 4½ furlongs and 6 locks from St Pancras Basin to Mile End Road Bridge No 56 travelling east on the Grand Union Canal (Regent’s Canal).

This will take 2 hours and 54 minutes.


Grand Union Canal (Regent’s Canal)
From St Pancras Basin [see navigational note 1 below] (St Pancras Cruising Club) to:
Battlebridge Basin

London Canal Museum. Also known as Horsfall Basin, Maiden Lane Basin
3½ furlongs, 1 lock
Islington Tunnel (West end) [see navigational note 2 below]

Muriel Street crosses here. Also known as Muriel Street
2 furlongs, 0 locks
Islington Tunnel (East end) [see navigational note 3 below]

Colebrook Row crosses here. Also known as Colebrook Row

Having passed through Islington Tunnel [see navigational note 4 below].

4¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Hertford Union Junction

Junction of Regent’s and Hertford Union Canals
2 miles, 6¼ furlongs, 4 locks
Mile End Road Bridge No 56

A11. Also known as Globe Bridge
4¼ furlongs, 1 lock


Total distance is 4 miles, 4½ furlongs and 6 locks. There are at least 1 small aqueduct or underbridge and 1 tunnel (Islington Tunnel [see navigational note 4 below]. ).

This is made up of 4 miles, 4½ furlongs of broad canals; 6 broad locks.

This will take 2 hours and 54 minutes. For initial calculation purposes (before adjusting for such things as overnight stops) this is taken as 1 day of 2 hours and 54 minutes.

Time was up, we had to leave Kings Cross and leave the cat behind. Heavy hearted we departed. At least we went back ‘home’, to Mile End where friends were near by.

A couple of friends came along for the cruise; Adnan was on the tiller and the crossing of the Islington Tunnel was smoother this time round.


One lock up & spiralling downwards

Adnan returned and at the end of March and we finally moved further up to where other boats were moored. Tied to the concrete tow path with tall buildings on the one side it wasn’t precisely a nice spot. A bit more than one month living on the boat, Natascha came to the conclusion, things so far have been pretty tough and the energy level was low. And when things just couldn’t get much worse, they actually did.

On the night from the 1st to 2nd of April a rather big storm hit London and Sava our cat disappeared. Nat’s moral hit rock bottom.

Later on that day, Nat also got news from Berlin. Her terminally ill friend was induced in an artificial coma, her health deteriorated, she had to have a series of antibiotic treatments. Nobody knew if she will ever come out of it. Nat felt powerless, it was all too much, there wasn’t a thing she could do for her friend, apart from thinking of her.

This is all we could do for Sava.

We put up numerous flyers around the area. We managed to extend our stay for two more weeks. We talked to fellow boaters and each night went out with cat food. Nothing.

A bizarre thing happened. One morning a black cat jumped onto the bed, but it wasn’t Sava! Talking to Adnan, we somehow thought we know this cat. We found out who his owner was, a fellow boater, a girl who used to squat the building next door on Goldsmith’s Row. The cat was living in that squat too and came around once or twice to the flat there. Well, nice to see you again, Mr Twist, the cat.


Meeting those people again was an interesting coincidence, we came to understand that many former squatters moved onto barges due to the fact that squatting of residential properties was made illegal, in fact a criminal offence, since 1 September 2012. Of course many of them couldn’t afford the rent in London and moving onto a barge was the only option. And some of those boats were really in a desolate condition, simply because the people also didn’t have the cash flow to get a swanky boat. It became apparent that not just us but many others moved onto boats because London has become unaffordable to live, where many residential properties are left empty for years.