While visiting UK last month, I spent a pleasant half-day exploring Camden Lock Market followed by a walk along the towpath of the Regent’s Canal as far as Little Venice and back again (about 4 miles in total).
Camden Lock Market is a bustling collection of shops and stalls spread over an area of converted warehouses, cobbled yards, stables and newer buildings. It is open seven days a week and has become a popular destination for Londoners and tourists to shop for antiques, arty stuff, clothing, accessories and handicraft items from all over the world.
Camden Market is also a good place for food with inexpensive stalls selling dishes from Ethiopia, Peru, Argentina, Nepal, Japan and Holland to name a few. In fact the only food you can’t seem to buy in this East End market is jellied eels and fish and chips.
After stuffing myself with potato curry, a refreshing walk was needed.
We walked along the old towpath which runs alongside the Regent’s Canal (towpaths were originally used by horses to tow barges). There were a few cyclists, joggers and walkers about but it was far from busy.
Regent’s Canal was opened in 1820 to link the River Thames at Limehouse to the Grand Union Canal junction at Paddington.
The path passes underneath a number of bridges. This one bears the name Henry Grissell. This man was proprietor of Regents Canal Ironworks and his company built bridges over the River Nile, the iron works at Covent Garden Opera House and the railings outside Buckingham Palace among other works. Apparently he was buried at West Norwood Cemetery in a galvanised cast iron tomb. A true Iron Man!
The route passes London Zoo where you might catch sight of some hyenas in enclosures near the canal. There are plenty of other sights to see along the way including a life-sized plastic cow on somebody’s balcony and a Chinese floating restaurant.
The canal runs along the northern edge of Regent’s Park where a handful of beautiful grand houses, in the style of famed architect John Nash, are located. These super luxury homes look old but seemingly were only built in the 1980s and 1990s.
Nash, who played a large part in the planning of this corner of London, originally intended Regents Canal to run through the centre of the park but he was persuaded that the uncouth language of the canal navvies would offend the refined residents of the area!
There is no such problem these days as the narrow boat residents at Little Venice are a more genteel class of people, living Bohemian lifestyles with pot plants displayed alongside their permanently moored eco-barges.
I saw an advert for a narrow boat and mooring at Little Venice on sale for £75,000. Mooring fees are £4,000 per year. Compared to other properties in this part of London it might seem quite a bargain but it is a depreciating asset.
There are regular narrow boat tours between Camden Lock Market and Little Venice if you don’t fancy too much walking.