view of Regent's Canal London

I spend a lot of my free time walking across the beautiful hills of West Yorkshire but recently I took a trip down to London for the day for a different kind of walk. With no other plans than to walk the length of Regent’s Canal from Kings Cross to Paddington Basin I set off on the early morning Saturday train.

Regent’s Canal, London is an 8.6 mile stretch of canal that connects the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal to the River Thames at the Limehouse Basin. It provides a walk fully of joy together with a whole new way to view the city.

Arriving at Kings Cross at 8.30am I spent some time wandering through Coal Drops Yard, the fairly recent development at Kings Cross and home to a wide range of independent shops, cafes and larger retail brand names.

At 8.30am it was a London I hadn’t seen; everything was just starting to open up and there was a great feeling of expectation in the air.  

BaldHiker Retreats
coal drops yard

I made my way to Granary Square just off Coal Drops Yard to eat an alfresco breakfast on the wide green carpeted steps that led down to the canal and the start of my walk.

shops at coal drops yard

There is so much history about this area and it is fabulous to see how it has been regenerated into a vibrant and interesting area so near Kings Cross.

The sun was coming out from the clouds and I spent some time watching the world and the boats go by before starting my adventure.

Granary Square

Living in West Yorkshire I am very at home on canal towpaths and love the calmness and slow pace of life you get on these lovely waterways. Walking along this canal, it was hard to believe I was in the capital city. The path was secluded, leafy and so peaceful.  

under a bridge Regent's Canal

My first planned stop off was Camden and I saw the iconic lock as I approached this buzzing area. As I left the canal, I felt a wave of excitement visiting this great eclectic place full of colour, characters and creativity.

I wandered happily through the market and the streets of Camden taking in the sights and sounds before emerging at the other side and back onto the canal.

Camden Lock

My next stop off was Primrose Hill where I strolled through this village-like area with its grand Victorian terraces and Regency townhouses and up the path to the top of the iconic hill.

view from Primrose Hill

As one of the 6 protected viewpoints in London, the fabulous panoramic view of Regent’s park and the city beyond didn’t disappoint. The top of Primrose Hill was busy with families, runners and tourists all enjoying the view of the London skyline.

canal towpath view london

I headed down 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 beautiful stop off and a complete contrast to Camden. 

As I got back onto the canal, I realised I was passing through the outer edges of London Zoo and the Snowdon Aviary which is the home to the eastern black-and-white colobus monkeys. I was so lucky to see a number of these mischievous monkeys roaming and leaping about the architectural structure that is their home.

At this point, with the sun shining and bouncing off the water, I found a bench on the towpath and had my second breakfast of the day with a small glass of fizz I had brought along, watching the water and the world go by before I made my way to Little Venice.  

by the canal at little Venice London

The stretch of canal from Regent’s Park to Little Venice is a fascinating one. Home to quirky houseboats lining the canal through St John’s Wood and Maida Vale and amazing houses and architecture above the far side of the canal. There were definitely some ‘wow, who must live there?!’ moments!

puppet theatre barge london

Reaching the Puppet Barge Theatre, I knew I had arrived at Little Venice and my next stop off.  Poet Robert Browning is thought to have been the first to name the area Little Venice and it is such a great place. It was busy and buzzy with a fab, laid back sunny weekend vibe.

I took the opportunity to find a sunny spot outside the lovely canal side restaurant/bar, The Waterway, for a chilled rose while Duffy’s song ‘Warwick Avenue’ played in my head.

canalside cafe bar

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 fabulous modern office blocks alongside the canal interspersed with quirky floating cafes and retail barges – a great place to work I would imagine.

This was the end of my Regent’s Canal walk and it was fabulous! A walk full of history, grandeur, quirkiness and character. A walk with peaceful stretches before the sensory hit of Camden and the views of Primrose Hill. A walk with fabulous wall art, architecture and monkeys! A walk that could stretch out all day with a leisurely lunch, a trip to the zoo, a ride on the London Waterbus, and time in the Royal Park.

It was seeing London from a different, less touristy view, and it is definitely a walk I will be doing again.

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