I just love being by the water. Of course you can go for the obvious River Thames, but there is a much more magical waterway hidden in plain site, the Regents Canal towpath. This canal meanders its way through Regents Park, past the bustling Kings Cross, down through Shoreditch before ending at Limehouse basin. There is a public footpath that goes the entire length of the canal, although you do have to be careful of bikes that occasionally speed past.
It is a remarkably un-London walk, apart from the bikes no-one is rushing but everyone is curiously peering into the canal boats parked along the waters edge. You never know what you might see in those boats, but if it even vaguely sunny you are sure to see people sitting on the back drinking a nice glass of wine and staring right back at you. And of course there is huge amusement when any of these boats are actually trying to go through the multiple locks on the canal, such a simple and at the same time open to disaster process. All the more fun if it is not you stressing about moving the boat up a level.
Now if you are after some exercise feel free to just find the towpath and walk to your hearts desire. But for those of you that are after a more decadent afternoon there are enough wine bars and cafes dotted along the canal to satisfy even this runawaykiwi. If you time it right you can even swing by Broadway Market which is about half way along, purely to refuel of course.
I think the reason I love this little walk so much is not just because of the sense of calm it brings, but also the hidden London that is revealed. All of those buildings that backed onto the canal, the ones with such beautiful facades on the front, are harsh and ugly at the back. I guess the architects never thought that the canal would become such a desirable walkway. Now the buildings, particularly down the Shoreditch end, have become the new homes of street art and sculpture – another reason just in case you needed it to walk this path.
To find the canal just walk to any of the blue bit below and walk along it until you see a path down to the water. Be happy adventurers 🙂