I was reminded recently of the very first decent day’s walk I ever did when I first came to London. It started at Queens Park and finished at Limehouse Basin. It took most of the day and was walked in the company of a motley group of house mates and other friends and it was great fun. Many years later it’s a walk I still love and it’s one that I frequently introduce others to and last week did a part of it as I caught up with an old friend.
The walk is along parts of the Grand Union and Regent’s Canal and, in the years since that first time, many things have changed. There are now many canal front apartments and office developments; areas have been cleaned up and there is an infrastructure of numerous pubs, restaurants and coffee shops which eliminate the need to take a packed lunch! I recall the exhaustion from my first experience and am delighted that I am now fitter, or perhaps some of that is wiser, in that I know to warm up and cool down.
One of the reasons I love this walk is because of the different areas you pass through and the completely different view you get of parts of London. Once on the towpath it is like being in a different world. There is so much to see and lots of people using
it – on bikes and foot; running, power walking and ambling; with friends, children and on their own. It is a people watcher’s paradise and of course it has peaceful, as well as busy, stretches.
Our route took us through Little Venice, Maida Vale, Regent’s Park (at one point you actually walk through London Zoo), Kings Cross and St Pancras, Islington and then down through Hackney and Victoria Park to Mile End. Although intending to go on to Limehouse, the falling light made this virtually impossible so on this occasion we caught the tube home from here with plans to do the last stretch some other day. That never quite materialised for the group but it did for me.
As the years passed, I frequently found my way back to this path remembering the many signposts from the canal itself, I started to explore further. I now include this walk in many more comprehensive routes and have developed so many new ones too. It’s such fun to find how the canal network joins up.
En route you can explore Camden Market as you literally walk right through it; the Half Hitch Gin Distillery, one of the smallest I have ever visited and the Canal Museum is just off the towpath. This path exposes an ever-changing scene which is what makes it ever inspiring and interesting.
Do you have a favourite walk where you live?
If you do, we would love to hear about it so that we can share it with others so do let us know by emailing Carol. If you don’t but feel inspired to discover one, then over to you. Collating these could become an ongoing pleasure.
If you are interested but do not want to tackle the whole walk in one fell swoop, there are a number of sections you could easily break it down into. If you do it, let me know what part you did and how you found it. And if you want help in planning, reach out through our One Million Women Walking community on Facebook.
If you are interested in city walking, I run monthly walks in and around London and the South East. If you’re interested or if you’d like to have these in your own town or city check us out.