Taking the exit from the Hammersmith & City Line at Paddington I turn left and find myself on the Regent’s Canal, this redeveloped area with it’s gleaming office blocks and trendy bars and restaurants is a fairly recent but welcome addition for Londoners and tourists alike. As I keep walking the noise and hustle and bustle of the city
starts to fade away as realise, that surprisingly, I’m in quite a quiet and tranquil area.
A short walk further on and I come into the area known as the Pool of Little Venice named by the poet Robert Browning who lived overlooking the canal. It’s here where the Regent’s Canal and the Grand Union Canal meet. As I follow the tow path along there’s a barge called The Waterside Cafe, a lovely place to stop for a coffee or something more substantial. There are also boat tours available from this area.
I follow the tow path and continue under Warwick Avenue Bridge, just as I come out the other side I see the Old Toll House which dates from 1812. As I keep walking l come across the pretty residential moorings of Blomfield Road, one of the most prestigious canal mooring sites in London. l have to come off the tow path here as the canal disappears into the Maida Hill Tunnel, I continue along Blomfield Road and crossover Edgware Road into Aberdeen Place. There’s a great little cafe here called Cafe Laville which sits right over the Maida Hill Tunnel it serves a fabulous selection of brunch items, pasta, salads as well as a fully licensed bar, it’s also got a wonderful outdoor terrace.
Continuing on I reach the Crockers Folly public house. The Crockers was built in anticipation of a new railway terminal, which was eventually built further south at Marylebone. There’s a pathway ahead of me signposted Regent’s Canal, I follow it and head down a steep flight of steps back onto the canal towpath. This area is called Lisson Grove.
As I keep walking the area changes from the high rise tower blocks of Lisson Grove to the elegant villas of Regents Park. Originally the parks designer John Nash wanted the canal to run through the middle of the park, but he was persuaded that the bad language of the navvies would offend the upper class residents of the area and so the plan was altered to how you see it today. Nash had plans to build 56 villas in Regent’s Park but only 8 were ever completed and all to his original designs which drew inspiration from the architecture of ancient Greece, Rome and the Renaissance period. I try and imagine who lives in these truly stunning properties. As I walk down the towpath admiring the villas, on the left of me are the beautiful gardens of Winfield House, the American Ambassadors official residence in London. It’s a real shame you can’t see the house but with the way things are you can understand the tight security that surrounds it.
In my opinion this is the prettiest part of the towpath and as I continue I pass under two bridges. The first is an aqueduct carrying the forgotten River Tyburn over the canal. The second is the Macclesfield Bridge also kbown as the “Blow up Bridge”. Here, in 1874, a barge carrying gunpowder exploded and destroyed the bridge. You can still see eveidence of the explosion on a nearby Plane tree that survived the blast.
As I pass under the bridge I get a glimpse of the famous Snowdon Aviary in the London Zoo. I leave the towpath at the Primrose Hill Bridge as I want to take a walk up Primrose Hill to see the views of the city.
It’s a short walk across the road and into Primrose Hill Park. The park was purchased from Eaton College in 1841 to extend the parkland available to the poor of north London for open air recreation. At one time this was a place where duels were fought and prize fights took place. I climb to the top of the hill to see the view, one of six protected view points in London. The summit is almost 63 metres above sea level and the trees are kept low so as not to obscure the view. The walk up isn’t too bad as it’s quite a long steady climb but it’s worth it when you get to the top, the view is spectacular. There are sweeping views across the whole city. I spent some time up there picking out various buildings like the BT Tower, Big Ben, Canary Wharf to name but a few.
Walking back down the other side brought me out into the very upmarket area of Primrose Hill itself, I walked up Regents Park Road browsing the shops, looking at menus trying to decide where to have lunch. After walking all the way up with no decision made I came across a pub called the Pembroke Castle, a name which rang a bell but I wasn’t sure why. I went inside, bought a drink and ordered some food, I found it to be very relaxed with a friendly atmosphere. The food was pretty average but filled a gap. I’ve since researched the pub and it’s supposed to be a bit of a celebrity hangout which is why I knew the name, although I didn’t spot anyone famous when I was there!
The area of Primrose Hill is very pretty with it’s pastel coloured houses, fashionable shops, restaurants and bars and I would suggest if you can to spend some time exploring. You never know who you might bump into.
I headed back to Regent’s Park. The park was designed by John Nash and covers 395 acres, I walked through the park as I wanted to visit the terraces on the other side created by the architect John Nash.
I find the area around the park and the terraces so beautiful my personal favourites are Sussex Place, York Terrace and Cumberland Terrace. Sussex Place was originally 26 houses built between 1822 and 1823, in the 1960’s the original houses were demolished but the facade was kept when it was turned into the London Business School.
After spending quite some time just wandering around, taking photographs and probably looking somewhat suspicious I decide it’s time to leave, I only wish I was going back to one of those grand residences overlooking the park. I eventually wind my way back to Baker Street Tube from where I catch the underground home.