28 September 2016 | 17 °C

| By: M@

Weekend Walks: #1 Regent's Canal, From Paddington To Camden

Weekend Walks: #1 Regent's Canal, From Paddington To Camden
The run-up to Regent's Park passes through suburbia, allowing glimpses into the back gardens of the well-to-do.
The run-up to Regent's Park passes through suburbia, allowing glimpses into the back gardens of the well-to-do.
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The best views of Camden Locks can be gained from the black arched bridge. Another castellated structure appears to the right - this time a rather attractive branch of Starbucks.
The best views of Camden Locks can be gained from the black arched bridge. Another castellated structure appears to the right - this time a rather attractive branch of Starbucks.
Although you wouldn't want to walk the canal at night time, looking out from Camden bridge offers an attractive view.
Although you wouldn't want to walk the canal at night time, looking out from Camden bridge offers an attractive view.
People queue up in Camden Market to take the pleasure boat to London Zoo and on to Little Venice.
People queue up in Camden Market to take the pleasure boat to London Zoo and on to Little Venice.
After Little Venice, the canal passes under Maida Vale through a lengthy tunnel, and we are forced to continue above ground. The route takes us past 'Crocker's Folly', a former inn created, so the legend goes, by a Mr Crocker who hoped to attract customers from a new railway line planned to pass nearby. The line eventually terminated over a mile away at Marylebone, and the disappointed Crocker committed suicide. It's not true, though.
After Little Venice, the canal passes under Maida Vale through a lengthy tunnel, and we are forced to continue above ground. The route takes us past 'Crocker's Folly', a former inn created, so the legend goes, by a Mr Crocker who hoped to attract customers from a new railway line planned to pass nearby. The line eventually terminated over a mile away at Marylebone, and the disappointed Crocker committed suicide. It's not true, though.
Graffiti is commonly encountered along the canal, ranging from repetitive tags to stickers, paste-ups and murals.
Graffiti is commonly encountered along the canal, ranging from repetitive tags to stickers, paste-ups and murals.
The layered charm of Hampstead Road Lock.
The layered charm of Hampstead Road Lock.
On to Little Venice, perhaps the most picturesque point on the canal. Treelined boulevards and superior bars and restaurants flank the waterway.
On to Little Venice, perhaps the most picturesque point on the canal. Treelined boulevards and superior bars and restaurants flank the waterway.
But something of the old remains.
In contrast to the sweeping curve of the water course, the bend where the canal leaves Paddington Basin is a dominated by linear architecture.
Paddington Basin has been transformed in recent years to a centre of modern offices and sharp suits. Note the small bridge behind the boats to the left. Visit at noon on a Friday and you can watch it curl up into an ocatagon to allow access to the small side channel it spans.
Approaching Camden Town we see ahead the Pirate's Castle youth centre, designed by Colonel Richard Seifert (the same architect behind Tower 42 and Centrepoint).
Approaching Camden Town we see ahead the Pirate's Castle youth centre, designed by Colonel Richard Seifert (the same architect behind Tower 42 and Centrepoint).
We rejoin the canal near Lisson Grove, where the unusual 'Upside-Down House' straddles the water. From here, the canal sweeps around the northern edge of Regent's Park on a long, leafy stretch. Look out for 'blow-up bridge', which was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in the 19th Century, killing several boatmen and freeing animals at nearby London Zoo.
We rejoin the canal near Lisson Grove, where the unusual 'Upside-Down House' straddles the water. From here, the canal sweeps around the northern edge of Regent's Park on a long, leafy stretch. Look out for 'blow-up bridge', which was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in the 19th Century, killing several boatmen and freeing animals at nearby London Zoo.

In the first of a new series of urban walks, we take a look at the colours of the Regent's canal, beginning at Paddington Basin, through to Little Venice then on through Maida Vale, Regent's Park and finishing in Camden Town.

An industrial era waterway tagged with a royal name, Regent's Canal still flows quietly through some of the busiest parts of London, its towpath improbably stringing together some of the most different places you could think of. Walking down the towpath, layers of London's development unfold before your eyes. This is an opportunity to see London almost like a film reel, with new tableau opening round each bend. The railway lines form a rhythm. Every time you pass under one, the environment completely changes.

A stroll along the Regent's Canal teaches you how cities are made. There are different ways of addressing water - green slopes or concrete banks, boathouses or public houses, fenced off or open to influences. Bridges over the towpath seem to mark the passing of time, and recite something of history in street names - Royal College Street, York Way, Roman Road or Salmon Lane. Most of all, the canal experience teaches you to value melancholic industrial landscapes. People regularly find happiness and leisure in them - canal boats, cyclists, and walkers.

Click through the image gallery to learn more about the first stretch, from Paddington Basin to Camden Town. Total distance, 2.8 miles.

By Shibani Bose and M@


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Last Updated 01 June 2016