I spend much of my free time walking through the beautiful hills of West Yorkshire, but recently I took a day trip to London for a different kind of walk. With no plans other than to walk the entire Regent’s Canal from Kings Cross to Paddington Basin, I set off on the early Saturday morning train.
Regent’s Canal, London is a 9 miles (14 km) canal connecting the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal to the River Thames at the Limehouse Basin. It offers a walk full of joy along with a whole new way to see the city.
Arriving at Kings Cross at 8.30am, I spent some time wandering through Coal Drops Yard, the fairly recent development off Kings Cross and home to a wide range of independent shops, cafes and bigger name brands.
At 8:30am it was a London I hadn’t seen yet; everything was just beginning to open up and there was a great sense of anticipation in the air.
I made my way to Granary Square just off Coal Drops Yard to eat breakfast al fresco on the wide, green-carpeted steps that led to the canal and the start of my walk.
There is so much history in this area and it is fantastic to see how it has been transformed into a vibrant and interesting area so close to Kings Cross.
The sun came out of the clouds and I spent some time watching the world go by and the boats passing by before starting my adventure.
I live in West Yorkshire I feel very much at home on the towpaths and love the calm and slow pace of life on these pretty waterways. Walking along this canal, it was hard to believe I was in the capital. The trail was remote, leafy and so peaceful.
My first planned stop was Camden and I saw the iconic lock as I approached this bustling area. Leaving the canal I felt a rush of excitement as I visited this amazing eclectic place full of colour, character and creativity.
I merrily wandered through the market and streets of Camden, taking in the sights and sounds before emerging on the other side and back onto the canal.
My next stop was Primrose Hill, where I strolled through this village-like area with its grand Victorian terraces and Regency-style mansions and up the path to the top of the iconic hill.
As one of 6 protected viewpoints in London, the fantastic panoramic view of Regent’s park and the city beyond did not disappoint. At the top of Primrose Hill it was busy with families, runners and tourists all enjoying the view of the London skyline.
I descended from Primrose Hill to Regent’s Park, one of London’s eight royal parks and also home to London Zoo. With its tree lined paths and wide open spaces it was a lovely stop and a complete contrast to Camden.
When I got back on the canal I realized I was walking through the outer edges of the London Zoo and the Snowdon Aviary, home to the eastern black and white colobus monkeys. I was so lucky to see some of these mischievous monkeys wandering and jumping all over the architectural structure that is their home.
At this point, with the sun shining and reflecting off the water, I found a bench on the towpath and ate my second breakfast of the day with a small glass of bubbly I had brought, watching the water and the world go by before I went to Little Venice.
The stretch of canal from Regent’s Park to Little Venice is fascinating. Home to quirky houseboats along the canal through St John’s Wood and Maida Vale and amazing houses and architecture over the other side of the canal. There were definitely some ‘wow, who needs to live there?!’ moments!
When I reached the Puppet Barge Theater I knew I had arrived in Little Venice and my next stop. Poet Robert Browning would have been the first to name the area Little Venice and it’s such an amazing place. It was busy and bustling with a fantastic, relaxed, sunny weekend vibe.
I took the opportunity to find a sunny spot outside the pretty canalside restaurant/bar, The Waterway, for a chilled rose while Duffy’s song ‘Warwick Avenue’ played in my head.
My last stop was Paddington Basin and this is where the Regent’s Canal meets the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal. This last stretch is fairly commercial with fantastic modern office blocks along the canal interspersed with quirky floating cafes and shop barges – a great place to work I would imagine.
This was the end of my Regent’s Canal walk and it was great! A walk full of history, grandeur, idiosyncrasy and character. A walk with quiet stretches for the sensory hit of Camden and the view of Primrose Hill. A walk with fantastic wall art, architecture and monkeys! A walk that could last all day with a leisurely lunch, a trip to the zoo, a ride on the London Waterbus and time at the Royal Park.
It was seeing London from a different, less touristy perspective, and it’s definitely a walk I’ll be doing again.
You may also like:
- A walk along the Royal Military Canal in Hythe
- Vauxhall Park in London – a hidden gem
- Walthamstow Wetlands: Wild London