One of the best aspects of David Fathers’ new guide to the Regent’s Canal is the way that it clearly brings together what can otherwise seem like a quite disparate system of canals that run through London. This process commences from the very start of the book, with the inclusion of a map showing the full extent of these waterways, from Maida Vale’s Little Venice to Olympic Park. As the way the Regent’s Canal links up with the Hertford Union Canal, the Limehouse Cut and the River Lee Navigation is not always immediately obvious, this guide helps facilitate exploration of what is a fascinating and diverse – and often over-looked – route through our fair city.
Author David Fathers trained as a graphic designer and now works as an illustrator, so it’s no surprise that his book is full of delightful illustrations and images and has an attractive yet practical layout. Every page follows a section of the waterways across London from west to east, with the closest tubes or rail links clearly marked. Fathers doesn’t just stick to the major points of interest either – fascinating historical snippets and glimpses into the lives of famous residents are also included. For example, the house where playwright Joe Orton was murdered is listed, as are details about the accidental explosion of the Macclesfield Bridge (near Regent’s Park) in 1874 – all of which makes for a pleasantly idiosyncratic guide.
The guide’s handy size also means that it is easily carried with you on the trek you should now be inspired to take along London’s waterways. The Regent’s Canal: An Urban Towpath Route from Little Venice to the Olympic Park is published by Frances Lincoln on 4th October 2012 – just in time for the 200th anniversary of the first cutting of the canal.