From Kings Cross to Paddington along The Regent’s Canal

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At Kings Cross (with a little bit of #acrossthebuildings)

To walk from Kings Cross to Paddington by the road would not be a particularly pleasant undertaking, on such a busy, traffic filled main artery.  I had heard however that the walk along the canal was a different proposition all together.   It’s been on the list for some time, and its made to to the top before, but then I’ve been thwarted by the weather.  But this week time, intention and meteorology were all in alignment.

According to the available information, it possible to walk the length of the Regent’s Canal from Limehouse to Paddington, but until now I’ve only seen small sections of it when I’ve happened upon it looking over road bridges, or one small walk east from Islington.  I had no real idea how it all joined up.  There is a section from east of Kings Cross to Islington which is underground through a tunnel, without pedestrian access, so my plan is to do the walk in two shots, starting with each end of the tunnel.

Much as I love those stories of bargees having to lie on their backs and propel their barges through the tunnels by walking their feet along the tunnel walls while the horses walked over the top, I accept that I may never get to experience that(!)

IMG_3378We started at the Kings Cross end and headed west. Walking in that direction, we passed from the shiny newly renovated areas around Granary Square and King’s Place, to more grubby urban building backs, through to Camden lock where the chaotic food stalls spill out onto the path.  We walked past people sitting on damp bits of grass, eating food out of plastic boxes.

It’s one of those areas to which visitors to London flock, but I have to confess now, that although I have lived in north London pretty much since 1981, I’ve been there only once before sometime in the 80s, and have since felt no particular need to return.  We did find a congenial spot to sit at a picnic table for a drink, but it is not the most pleasant part of the journey.

From Camden it wasn’t too much of a walk before we were passing along the top perimeter of Regent’s Park. leafy and on a wide path, only occasionally being skimmed by cyclists speeding by.  It’s possible to peer through some of the fences and see birds in one of the the aviaries of London Zoo.

More peering, although perhaps more discretely, was possible when we walked by the ranks of house boats moored in village like areas IMG_3390along the banks.  It all feels a bit packed in together and dense, so while it’s fun to look at all the things people manage to grow in pots on the roofs of their boats, it didn’t make me want to rush out and get one for myself.

And from there, after a little detour on the road, although still quite close to the canal and on a level with it, we came to the fancifully named Little Venice, where, after a cup of tea from a cafe in a boat, we turned away from the bend in the canal and headed down into the Paddington Basin.  Walking underneath the road bridges and hearing the roar of the traffic was a reminder that we had been in central London all the time, but in a quieter parallel world, if only for a short while.

It’s a walk of somewhere between 4 and 5 miles, and at our leisurely pace with plenty of pauses and sit downs along the way, it was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Now I just have to organise myself to do the section east of the Islington tunnel……

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