Kings Cross to Camden Town – a walk

February 2020

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King’s Cross Station, London

I turned left out of Kings Cross station and left again onto York Way. I was seeking Wharf Road Gardens (connected to Handyside Gardens).

‘The name [King’s Cross] derives from a statue-topped structure erected in 1830 on the junction, or crossroads, between the roads now known as Euston Road, Pentonville Road and Grays Inn Road. The statue, you guessed it, was of a king – King George IV to be precise – who had died that year.’  Culture Trip

Street scene
Chat on the street, Kings Cross, London

Past Pret with its cucumber hoarding, old buildings and new, a sign for The Guardian newspaper offices (Farringdon Road) advertising ‘Hope is Power’, and King’s Place with its vertical, undulating reflective surfaces.

King's Place at a tilt
I cannot resist a reflective surface and tilted, it caught the light better, Kings Cross, London

Soon I crossed the Regent’s Canal with its long boats, both residential and for business. Turning left again, I wound between patches of grass and raised beds. Apparently the London Underground trains run a mere 4.5 metres below the surface and so the soil depth is insufficient for planting.

Regent's Canal from York Way
Looking west along the Regent’s Canal from York Way, London
Daisies
Little daisies opening their hearts to the sun. There were strawberry plants with fruit (honestly) and all manner of sprightly Spring flowers

Wharf Gardens incorporates Coal Drop Yard, Granary Square, King’s Boulevard, St Pancras Station and West Handyside Canopy – all very ‘regenerated’ and rather chi-chi. However, I discovered many interesting places, not least the Word on Water bookshop.

Word as Water Book Boat
Word on the Water Bookboat, Regent’s Canal, King’s Cross, London

There was a little contretemps – a woman who was not in full control of her behaviour needing a smoke and most insistently tramping through the shop – which the gentleman in the bowler (see above) managed admirably.

Boat Bookshop interior
Part of the interior of the Word on the Water bookshop, Regent’s Canal, Wharf Road Gardens, London

The House of Illustration was there, with fascinating sounding exhibitions such as W.E.B DuBois Charting Black Lives. Not much further on was Central St Martins (CSM) art school collaborating with Shades of Noir in a window display, impressively focusing on ‘the historical white dominance of institutional ownership of archival material’ within the CSM Museum.

House of Illustration
House of Illustration, London

There were people playing table tennis in the massive, roofed community space (I wanted to join in) and Art Fund at the Coal Drops Yard.

Art Fund Coal Drops Yard

Down by the canal, I bought a book a lovely little book, London’s Hidden Rivers, a walker’s guide to the subterranean waterways of London – the sort of thing I would have liked to write! And admired the cranes against the picturesque sky.

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Cranes at Kings Cross

Smart shop units
Perhaps the remains of Chinese New Year celebrations – red streamers blowing in the wind

The Canal and River Trust have done a great job of opening up the canal for all of us to enjoy – those walking, jogging, pushing buggies and the school boys smoking joints. Under Somers Town Bridge I trundled with my suitcase, opposite Camley Street Natural Park which I discovered last year (see the link below to an earlier blog, with photos). Past a flight of smart stone steps upon which you could sit and watch the coots and moorhens rush by and up to the St Pancras Lock and Basin, and Gasholder Park, a tremendous new conversion of the disused gasworks.

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New blooms amidst the remains of last year’s dry stalks, Regent’s Canal, London

A man was putting his back into it, tightening a sheet on the roof of a barge. The vessels were all colours of the rainbow, some more modern than others, one with a bright blue old-fashioned wheel, but no-one was going through the lock as I approached.

Hot Tamale, canal boat and wheel

BT Tower
The BT Tower as seen from St Pancras Lock, Regent’s Canal, London
Gasholder park
Gasholder Park, Regent’s Canal, London

It all reminded me of a recent visit to a friend’s boat for breakfast on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal, the Leamington Lift Bridge and it’s waterside community, so I had some idea of what was below decks.

Canal boats, Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal
Canal boats, Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal
The Leamington Lock, Edinburgh
The Leamington Lock, Edinburgh
Lochrin Basin, Edinburgh
Lochrin Basin, Edinburgh

It is not far from King’s Cross to Camden Town, perhaps 30 minutes if you didn’t stop off and take photos and browse bookshops and generally see the sights, but well worth it on a cold, sunny day. There I picked up the overground to Gunnersbury, ideal for where I was staying that night.

Geese standing on the water, Regent's Canal, London
Geese standing on the water, Regent’s Canal, London
Moorhen, Regent's Canal, London
Moorhen, Regent’s Canal, London

You might also like Camley Street Natural Park; St Pancreas Parish church and gardens; and Goldington Crescent Gardens, Camden London

or Regent’s Canal Towpath from Camden onwards

Regent’s Canal Towpath

Camden Market – Regents Canal Towpath – London Zoo

October 2018 – I had spent a month in Ireland and had just arrived in London to visit family and lead a Shiatsu workshop. Having stayed the night with my daughter, I woke to find that the sun was shining and I thought I would take my rucksack on a nice walk across London to Chiswick to meet my sister. Approx. 7 miles / 11.5 kms.

I started at Kentish Town West underground station, and turned tail  cutting through small streets as they took my fancy, avoiding the busy commuters rushing to work

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Public wash house, Grafton Road, London
MAP studio and café where I stopped for breakfast, good tea and music, Grafton Road, London
The roof space of MAP café, Grafton Road, London

Refreshed, I found the Owl Bookshop which was full of school children browsing. There was a lovely sense of excitement amongst them at the prospect of the reading.

The Owl Bookshop, Kentish Town Road, London

‘Natural’ is a mix of MAP and Owl, being a café with books stacked in the window!

Further along Kentish Town Road was Natural, London
Prince of Wales Road
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The Abbey Tavern, a typical London pub, Kentish Town Road, London
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Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Kentish Town Road, London (perhaps a hint of where I might end my Autumnal travels though I had no inkling I would be going to Northern Greece at that time )
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Creation Studios, Kentish Town Road, London

At the end of Kentish Town Road, I turned right into Hawley Road.

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Hawley Primary School, Hawley Road, London
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Slightly to the left, ahead, was Castlehaven Open Space, London

I took a left onto Castlehaven Road and left again onto Chalk Farm Road.

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And not very much further was one of my favourite teenage haunts  Camden Market, London

I wound my way between stalls and caravans selling food and other goodies.

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Here I found bookshop number 3, the Blackgull which is also a book binders, Camden Lock, London

On my left was the towpath…

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With weeping willows and colourful reflections in the still water, London
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Barges which you can take along to Little Venice for sightseeing, Regents Canal, London
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Here the canal is closely flanked by new residential units and I spied the tower of the Pirate Castle on the bridge.
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Under the Oval Road, looking ahead at the train running over the canal, London

Remember to check out Banksy’s famous artwork  in the vicinity (24 – 26 Oval Road).

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Paddle Boarding, London

You can stand up and paddle on a board under the full moon, at hallowe’en and combine it with prosecco!

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Going under Gloucester Avenue, London
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The conical spire of St Mark’s Church in the distance, Camden, London NW1 7TN

When I caught up with it (the church) I appreciated its six-petalled, flower windows.

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Sleeping rough away from the traffic
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A busy waterway, Regents Canal, London
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Highly decorated London Waterbus
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Monks enjoying the peace and quiet, London

There were bicycles and a wheel barrow on the roof of a house boat; paintings propped up against trees and hanging on sheets along the washing line; a bench with a proud goat who has curled horns (you will have to go and see!); there was graffiti galore.

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At the corner I turned right and admired the Feng Shang Princess restaurant boat, resplendant in its red livery

Not long afterwards I realised I was not far from Primrose Hill on the right and alongside the world famous London Zoo opposite where the previously mentioned Waterbus makes a drop-off, just before the pretty wrough-iron bridge.

At the Prince Albert Ramp I had the chance of a detour for Camden High Street, and ahead was St John’s Wood, the Snowdon Aviary and Lord’s Cricket Ground. I trundled along taking photos of the wild plants. Joggers jogged and I got to the Jubilee Greenway completed in 2012 to mark the Queen’s birthday and the London Games.

My path took me around Regents Park, named after the Prince Regent, where there’s an Open Air Theatre and a boating lake.

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Winfield House, the residence of the US Ambassador
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Under Park Road, London
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Creative garden spaces, Regents Canal, London

Here there were delphiniums (even though it was October) and foxgloves.

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Quintessentially English flowers in pots, Regents Canal, London
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A waterside village of longboats and cute dwellings, Regents Canal, London

At the Canal Gate (pictured at the top of this blog) I had to leave because the way was blocked off.

I carried on along pavements by busy roads, past underground stations and shops, discovering parts of London I had never visited before. I made my way to Chiswick via Holland Park Avenue, Shepherd’s Bush, the Goldhawk Road, Stamford Brook Road and Bath Road where I met my sister.

My phone ran out so I stopped taking photos and used my handy Belkin Pocket Power (a 5000 mAh portable charger which has been my saving grace many times) to recharge it.

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Hot with the action and the weight of the rucksack, I was glad to sit down and have a cup of tea. Had I ‘world enough and time’ I would have visited St Michael and All Angels Church in Turnham Green, an Arts and Crafts building which a gentleman told me about as I stood waiting to cross a road. We had a most pleasant chat while he also regaled me with his life in India. I meet the most interesting characters when I walk.

The Regents Park and Primrose Hill both have excellent views of the London skyline. Royal Parks website.

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
The opening lines of ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell