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Which canal boat tour is best in London?

I am aware of the Jenny Wren tours. Is that best? Thank you.

Posted by
5078 posts

In early March 2020, just before the Pandemic shut things down abruptly, we wanted to see the Regent’s Canal, including the cruise past the London zoo. The Jenny Lind wasn’t running yet, so we booked a ride on Friday the 13th with the London Waterbus Co. Unlike the apparently fancier but more closed-in Jenny Wren, our boat had big, open sides to the passenger area, for maximum viewability. Had the weather been bad, they could’ve closed the big windows. It helped that our trip had less than 2 dozen passengers, making it easier to see the scenery as we passed, from Little Venice to Regent’s Park.

They got us there, and the ride had scenic points, but whether it was “the best,” I can’t say. Or maybe not the worst?? Maybe depends on if you’re there in high season.

We had a couple less-than wonderful moments, and I let Rachel at the company know by e-mail, afterwards. The ride was advertised as having either a live or recorded commentary on points we were passing, but there was no commentary, live or recorded. No description of what we were passing, canal history, what was at either end of the journey.

The conductor sat with some folks in the front of the boat, who seemed to speak a different language than English, and he chatted with them. The pilot ordered me and another passenger who wasn’t with us but who also popped his head out the back entrance hatch to take a photo, to return to our seats. If this was a safety issue or just an annoyance to the crew, it was never explained, and no safety announcement was ever made to say what was or wasn’t permissible.

There’s a tunnel the boat passes through at one point, and I did ask, and got an answer, about how boats made it through the tunnel back when there were no motors, just horse-drawn boats, and horses couldn’t fit inside the tunnel. Whether Jenny Wren is a more interactive trip, I can’t say, but again, they weren’t running when we were there.

Posted by
1047 posts

got an answer, about how boats made it through the tunnel back when
there were no motors

Cyn, would you reveal the answer?

I am interested to know if it is the same method described in "Hornblower and the Atropos", i.e. two men lay on their side on "wings" attached on each side of the boat and then walk on the wall while pushing the boat between them.

Posted by
5078 posts

I.p.enersen, they gave me a slightly different answer, that the crew would lie on their backs, on top of the boat, and walk along the rough ceiling of the tunnel. Hard work, and it would take an hour to get through the long tunnel.

Regarding Nigel’s post, I hadn’t heard the term “legging,” but I can understand where that maybe could describe the process. In English English, legging must be a verb, and in the U.S., it’s plural describes a garment. Maybe the term “leggings” has been around in England, too, long before Spandex.

Posted by
19182 posts

I've read "legging it" used to mean something like "running away".

Posted by
29 posts

In England, leggings are also a tight fitting garment worn on the lower body. Legging or legging it also means to run fast, usually to get away from someone.
There is the Black Country working museum near Birmingham that has a canal tour into a tunnel, where they stop the engine once inside and ask for volunteers to leg it, lay on overhanging boards.

Posted by
26047 posts

the correct term for lying on their back and walking on the ceiling thus propelling the boat through the tunnel is legging. There are other uses for some or all of the word too, but legging the tunnel is the correct usage.

You know when you have done it too, especially on the longer tunnels such as Blisworth.

And in the dark - pitch black no matter how bright outside - and they might have had an oil lamp. And with the perpetual flow of dripping or gushing water from the ceiling, face up.

Posted by
26047 posts

legging also works in some narrow tunnels lying back to back and "walking" the side walls.

Posted by
5078 posts

arming would be really different. Any canal that’s armed is perhaps one to avoid.