Photo essay: Little Venice to Camden

A winter walk along the Regent’s Canal

We found this walk on the Canals and Rivers Trust website, well, my friend Jenny’s new, and now very much in favour, boyfriend did. It’s the Little Venice to Camden circular taking you along the Regent’s Canal most of the way. It’s quite a long walk and it was freezing, but I have to say it was really beautiful in winter: gulls were floating along on shards of ice, the trees were dramatically bare, contrasting against the moody sky.

Starting out at posh Warwick Avenue, where we were joined by a pair of bright green parakeets for a while, we headed up towards Edgware Road, then skimmed Regent’s Park, passed London Zoo and onto Camden. I had no idea just how many barges would be moored along the way, jumping out from the winter murk with their circus colours and boisterously fonted sides. With it being London, there’s this amazing juxtaposition between the grand, and uber-expensive, houses along the path and the baggy-jeaned kids smoking weed, or the blue sleeping back curled up under a bridge.

As you approach Camden, street art begins to appear. The walls under one canal bridge has been home since 1985 (until recently) to the Banksy Vs King Robbo war. I’m pretty sure this part of the canal is where the Mighty Boosh scene featuring Noel Fielding as a shaman drug dealer was shot too. “Me mum’s making me Spaghettios, do you like Spaghettios?”

We finished the walk in Camden, deciding to thaw out in the Hawley Arms because I couldn’t feel my body anymore. You can continue all the way back around to Little Venice, I might leave it until it’s a bit warmer before I try that though.

Ragent's canal walk start

Start. There’s a nice barge cafe here so you can grab a nice hot tea.

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Regent's canal barges

Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a house boat.

Regent's canal 1st bridge

Surveyors, er… surveying.

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Regent's canal posh house

Imagine!

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London Zoo

Show off.

Regent's canal street art 'Homeless'

This was on the pathway next to bridge with several sleeping bags under it. I can’t find out who it’s by. The way it’s become distressed and weather beaten really makes you stop and think.

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Regent's canal houses

If I could live here, I would never whinge about anything again.

Regent's canal Pirate Castle

Regent's canal Camden

Caaaaamden.

Regent's canal bookshop barge

A bookshop on a barge. Genius.

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Camden Lock

Camden market moped seats

It’s been a while since I’d been to Camden, I usually avoid it because it’s so touristy and the stalls had become so sterile. Anyway, it’s all changed. These are these new moped seats in the market for a start. Nice recycling Camden council.

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3 of London’s oddest shops

I’ve been taking a lot of walks lately. Partly because being a writer means a lot of sitting down – it’s not kind to the waistline, or in my case, seatline – and partly because it saves some pennies. It’s also giving me back my city, helping me to reconnect with a place that is all too easy to fade out in a coffee-fuelled haze, seeing nothing but phone notifications and closing tube doors.

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A little while ago, I ended up walking around central London for about four hours due to an Apple Maps mishap. Luckily I had dedicated the day to drifting otherwise I’d have been pretty pissed off, angry emails may have been sent.

I’d been half-heartedly aiming for the London Library in St James’s Square (which turned out later to be for expensive membership payers only), but was redirected instead to Russell Square via Bedford Square, Mayfair and Savile Row. These are some of London’s most extravagant streets, bubbling with Russian ladies in Louis Vuitton riding boots and Arabs dripping in gold. No place for a short girl wearing no make-up and a jumper capable of housing a small boy band.

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The little bouquets of designer clothes shops that fester there are so vacuum-formed that you could be almost anywhere. It’s the little oddities that make London worth bothering with and on Shaftesbury Avenue, tired and feeling a bit demoralised, I stumbled upon Arthur Beale’s yacht chandler, miles from any water. I’d seen it before, but never stopped to notice the way it shines out like freshly sprung daffodils in amongst the muddy bog of homogenised brands.

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A little further north on Southampton Row, I passed Shepherd’s bookbinding shop, an entire shop dedicated to the almost obsolete craft of binding pages together. Then, and this has to be the best one, on the same road is a small-press that doubles up as a bookshop selling, and this is the really great bit, almost nothing other the works of an eighteenth century Swedish philosopher called Swedenborg.

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