There's a Canal in London?

Have you had the experience when traveling that you find an absolute gem of a location that feels undiscovered? It's not a secret, of course, but you hadn't ever heard about it, you unexpectedly stumble upon it and then it charms you in just that certain way?

Two words: Regent's Canal.

On my last day with Lean Mean Fighting Machine, they suggested I explore the local hood just north of central London.

"There's Primrose Hill," Creative Partner Sam Ball told me, "and a park beyond there and, oh there's a canal beyond there that you can walk along, starting in Camden Town."

My ears pricked with interest, and I left the office with a couple of daylight hours to spare.

I took the path Sam suggested, up and over the quaint and pristine Primrose Hill, glancing at the tempting window displays and denying myself the delight of flaky, sweet-looking pastries, though my mouth was watering (I regretted that denial decision for the entire duration of the evening, it should be noted).

Just as the hill crests at the top of Primrose, I ducked into a beautiful park. The foliage and color were exploding, perhaps actually on the downside of its peak, but certainly not lacking anything in my eyes.

I wandered through its peaceful paths, snapping photos and watching children play with their nannies and mummies, older couples sitting together contently and quietly soaking up the day and each other, dogs bounding across the grass and a young boy playing football ("soccer" for les Americains) with his grandfather, kicking the ball back and forth with the sharp instruction that only the omniscient mind of a five year-old can assert!

Finally, after criss-crossing through neighborhoods in the direction of the London Zoo, I came upon the canal. Named for its proximity to Regent's Park, it runs through much of the center of London providing a link from the Paddington arm of the Grand Union (or Grand Junction) Canal to the River Thames. I ducked in where I collided with the canal. I headed to the left half a kilometer to begin the walk from the Camden Lock, where a fall pumpkin festival was just clearing its wares from the day with sunset approaching. Vendors collected in the center of the Camden Lock courtyard and I took a quick look around, grabbed a coffee and headed back out along the canal to walk as far as I could toward Little Venice before it got dark.

Sipping my coffee, I strolled, taking in the peace and quiet that was respected by both fellow tourists and locals running, walking or riding their bikes along the waterway. The only sounds breaking the silence were the shrill jingle warning bells of approaching bicycles and the sweet song of a Jamaican man singing Bob Marley tunes under the glorious acoustics of a bridge overpass.

Tethered houseboats lined the sides of the canals, looking both worn and lived in, with bikes or plants above deck and little dinghy boats attached for quick errands. Swans and ducks floated along, interspersed with other water traffic, and I took many a deep breath, absorbing the energy that tranquil time alone with your thoughts and a cup of coffee can provide. Passing under countless bridges as the canal curved and linked its way under streets and through different parts of town, I admired gorgeous homes with waterfront status, lit up and reflecting off the water as night fell around me.

I didn't make it quite far enough to Little Venice before the pitch dark black of night and the deep chill of fall caused me to climb back into the streets to head home, but I'm grateful for that, as it gives me a reason to return one day and walk the length of lovely Regent's Canal in its entirety.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds lovely Bri! I'll file this away for my next trip to London. Have you been to Borough Market? One of my faves...