The Regents Canal winds its way through London, passing through several pleasant North London stop-offs including Regents Park, Primrose Hill and Camden Town.
This dynamic and alternative part of North London offers cheap yet mouth-watering international street food, music on every corner, and one of the most laid-back and friendly atmospheres you will find in London.
Coming out of Camden Town Station, turn towards the market itself, and navigate your way through The Stables, where you will get lost in a maze of individual market stalls, selling antiques (some less genuine than others), vintage clothes, and crafts. Located by The Stables, you will encounter Cyberdog, and most likely hear it before you see it. Regardless of your taste, this shop is well worth a visit and is also popular with locals, especially those with an interest in the raving scene. The club-like atmosphere and psychedelic trance music is accompanied by futuristic pole dancers performing high up above shoppers.
Should you fancy a breather, then the Chin-Chin Lab Ice Cream shop will continue to charm you in this surreal part of town. Here in this tiny little shop by the lock, you can find the ‘the best ice cream parlor in England’ according to The Times. The ice cream is created before your eyes with liquid nitrogen, making it healthier than your average ice cream, and there is also vegan ice cream available on request. Particularly recommendable are the grilled white chocolate toppings or the Valrhona Hot Chocolate, on a chilly London day. Incidentally, if it is vegan food you are after, InSpiral, right next to Camden Lock Bridge, offers delicious and gluten-free vegan food, as well as a quirky, alternative atmosphere.
When in The Stables, expect to have numerous international food tasters waved in your face, meaning you can essentially feast for free as you walk through the food quarter. This is also where you can find the famous pan-Asian bar, restaurant, and nightclub Gilgamesh, recognizable by the three ton, 20 foot warrior statues flanking the entrance. This is a popular haunt for locals and stars alike.
Alternatively, upon arrival, turn left towards the quieter Mornington Crescent to find an array of local vegetarian and health supermarkets, trendy cafes and music venues, including the well-known jazz club, The Jazz Cafe.
If you want to avoid the continuous flow of tourists, try to spend your time in Camden in the mornings when the weather is less pleasant.
If you’re looking for something a little calmer, then take the beautiful urban walk or bike ride along the canal, from Camden Lock to Regent’s Canal, to reach Regent’s Park. This will take you through several pretty little residential mooring locations, from Little Venice to Edgware Road, up to Primrose Hill. You can thus pass through busy areas of North London via a peaceful, picturesque pathway. Don’t forget that as of 2010, Londoners have had ‘Boris Bikes’ at their disposal, with some 10,000 bikes stationed around the city and in parks for your cycling pleasure!
Just beyond Camden, a drastically different part of North London awaits, in the form of Regent’s Park. In summer, follow up a picnic and Pimm’s in a deckchair in Queen Mary’s Rose Garden with a trip to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Every year, the award-winning theater put on a torrent of dazzling musical and literary productions, from Gershwin to Shakespeare, which run throughout the summer months every year.
Sport at Regents Park
The park is of course a beautiful place to run, however it is also worth looking at other sport options. The Regents Park Tennis Centre by York Bridge, where a range of memberships are available, has also had several of its courts marked out for netball. There is also a sweet and reasonably priced little café, which makes a simple but pleasant breakfast or lunch location. From the Tennis Centre, it is a very quick walk into town to Marylebone or Baker Street Station. Regents Park also has a scenic boating lake with pedalos or rowing boats available for hire from April through to October.
Many North London families use their weekends to visit the world’s oldest scientific wildlife park, the ZSL London Zoo, along with its 20,000 animals. It is split into two sections, be aware of this so you don’t miss out the smaller section. You may want to travel light as the nearest tube stations are between 15 to 20 minutes away, and these stations are Camden Town Station or, for a slightly longer but more scenic route through the park, Regents Park Station.
This gorgeous, quiet, village-like part of town is not just full of beautiful people. Primrose Hill also boasts charming colored townhouses and buzzes with celebrities, bars and boutiques. The suburb is also a mecca to cupcake lovers, being home to Lola’s Cupcakes and to Primrose Bakery. Their famous cupcakes can also be of your own creation, as the bakery also offers much-loved evening classes and baking tutorials in their Covent Garden store.
If you’re strolling down Primrose Hill’s Regent’s Canal, pop into the local Chinese restaurant Feng Shang Princess, which is none other than a red floating pagoda. At this tranquil spot by the river, you might also catch sight of animals at the zoo!
On Primrose Hill itself, just across the road from Regents Park and London Zoo, you can look out across the City of London and join the many people who visit the spot to fly their kite. The park also tends to stay open overnight, meaning you can climb the hill and admire the magic of the big city lights by night, as well as watch fireworks across the city on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.
Catherine Bishop studies German at the University of Exeter. Originally from North London, Catherine worked for First Call Media, where she gained an interest in journalism. Following her studies at the Royal Academy of Music, Catherine has written articles for the British educational magazine Music Teacher. She now works at InterNations as a member of the Content & Communications Team. In the future, she will move to Hannover, where she will work at an educational publishing house.