Visit London Blog » regents canal Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:29:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Guest Editor Boris Johnson Thu, 23 Jan 2014 12:36:01 +0000

To celebrate the release of our latest London Story video featuring Mayor of London Boris Johnson, we asked Boris to be our guest editor on’s homepage from 23 to 25 January 2014, populating it with some of his favourite London experiences.

While making his London Story video for us – which was filmed in a pod on The EDF Energy London Eye – Boris waxed lyrical about some of his top things to see and do in London.

British Museum

“As I kid, because I was a bit of a nerd, I used to love going to the British museum where I would spend hours loitering in  the Duveen galleries,  looking at the Elgin Marbles – the ‘ta Elgíneia Mármara’, as they are called in Greece.”

The British Museum in Bloomsbury is the UK’s most visited tourist attraction, welcoming millions of people each year. Entry is free and provides access to an enormous wealth of historical artefacts, paintings, sculptures and scriptures from across the world (8 million in total) that make up the museum’s stores. These include the Rosetta Stone, The Elgin Marbles, the Easter Island Statue of Hoa Hakananai’a, and The Vindolanda tablets. As well as permanent exhibits, the museum curates temporary displays, and the Great Court and Reading Room are particularly popular with visitors due to their impressive architecture.

Regent’s Canal

“I cycle a lot but I also particularly like walking down the canal. There’s a fantastic walk just near us along the Regent’s Canal where you see these ancient bits of industrial architecture with new dwellings springing up among them.
“The buildings have got all this glass and steel and it’s the combination that’s so attractive. It’s 18th and 19th century industrial architecture that’s been brilliantly renovated with 21st century technology. It’s a fantastically vibrant area and so unlike any other city.
“We walk down the canal for a purpose – not just because it’s romantic and beautiful but because there is a pub, called The Narrow Boat, that sells fantastic sausage and mash.”

The 8.6-mile (14km) Regent’s Canal links the River Thames in the Limehouse Basin with Little Venice in north-west London. Along its route the canal bisects ZSL London Zoo, curves along the edge of Regent’s Park, passes through the busy shopping district of Camden, and then on to Islington and on to East London’s developing landscape, such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. When it was built in the early 19th century, the canal’s primary function was for carrying goods; today it mainly provides a conduit for relaxation and leisure time.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

“I love getting on my bicycle and riding all the way through Hackney. It is an area changing very, very fast with all these bars being opened and new startup businesses. I then go through Victoria Park, right the way to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which is connected up in the most extraordinary way. I recommend that for a day out and particularly when we reopen the whole park this year.”

Once London secured the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, work began on this piece of land in East London to turn what was previously wasteland into a hub for Londoners and visitors alike. The initial phase saw the creation of Europe’s largest shopping mall, Westfield Stratford City, next door, followed soon after by the Olympic Stadium and its sister sporting arenas. When the London 2012 Games finished, the park closed for refurbishment but the north section has since reopened for sporting events and festivals. Incremental new openings will occur throughout 2014 including parklands featuring new plant life, affordable homes, plus a variety of public-use sports and event venues.

Riverbus / Boat to Greenwich

“[My family and I] go to Greenwich and hang out there because it has such a beautiful park. You can have a wonderful afternoon having a picnic, feeding the ducks, hiring a boat – which you can also do at the Serpentine – and all that kind of stuff.”

London’s River Thames has a number of river bus services available. To get to Greenwich you can board one at Embankment, head east past the London Eye, Tower of London, Canary Wharf, and onto Greenwich where you disembark to enjoy The Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory Greenwich and Greenwich Park. As well as hosting the Prime Meridian Line, this 183 acre (74 hectare) Royal Park dates back to 1427 and offers a stunning vantage point from which you can look across London at landmarks such as The O2 Arena, Canary Wharf and The Gherkin. There is also an enclosure for wildlife including deer and foxes.

24 Hours in London: Food & World-Class Attractions  

“London has a superb range of places to eat and you are spoilt for choice for Michelin starred restaurants – not that I go to Michelin Star restaurants! I love this café called Frank’s in Southwark Street, where you can get one of the best fry-ups in the world or I can recommend a Turkish joint in Islington, called Pasha.
“It is very, very important to see the British Museum and the Tower of London. The Tower was built in Norman times and is the most interesting example of how London thrives on alien imports because every stone of that initial structure came from Caen in France.  Visitors should also go and see the crown jewels.
“There are so many unbelievable hidden jewels in London, like the Wallace Collection for instance.
“Then you’ve got the Tate Modern – which is not only the biggest but has the most number of visitors of any modern art museum in the world.”

Discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at #TheLondonStory

What would you recommend to visitors to London?

]]> 0
Five Hidden Gems of London by Sasha Wilkins (LibertyLondonGirl) Thu, 31 Oct 2013 16:45:21 +0000 London blogger Sasha Wilkins, also known as Liberty London Girl, shares her top five hidden gems in London, including the tastiest food stalls in Camden, one of her favourite museums and where to spot a new piece of public art in the capital:

Regent’s Canal
I’ve been cycling along the towpath from Camden in each direction for years, and it never ceases to surprise me that in the middle of one the busiest cities in the world one can feel in the middle of the country. I’ve spotted herons, along with the more normal coots and moorhens, and I think that the lovely towpath pubs are one of London’s best kept secrets.

Pollock’s Toy Museum
My mother used to take me and my sister to Pollock’s Toy Museum when we were little, and it still claims a piece of my heart as one of the most enchanting of London museums. It takes its name from Benjamin Pollock, the last of the Victorian Toy Theatre printers, and was set up by Marguerite Fawdry who bought up the stock of Benjamin Pollock Ltd., after trying to buy one small item for her son’s toy theatre.

Nearly every kind of toy imaginable turns up here from all over the world and from all different time periods. It’s a fascinating exhibition of toy theatres, teddy bears, wax and china dolls, board games, optical toys, folk toys, nursery furniture, mechanical toys and doll’s houses.

The Honest Sausage Cafe, Regent’s Park. 
This always seems to me to be one of the most quintessentially English places to grab a snack. You can only reach it by foot or on bike, and the menu is basically free range sausage and bacon rolls, home made cake or ice cream. (AND they serve Clipper Teas!) Really, what’s not to like?

Global Food Kitchen, Camden Lock Market
Many people think Camden is all about the shopping, but the West Yard of Camden Lock Market, is the home of the Global Food Kitchen — many, many glorious food stalls, plus Café Chula, which does good Mexican, and a series of fairly new and excellent food outlets, including the latest branch of Honest Burger, the truly delicious French & Grace, Chin Chin Labs (purveyors of nitrogen ice cream) and Mighty Fine Fudge & Chocolate (check out their Shrek green Mojito fudge).

Mark Wallinger’s White Horse Sculpture
If you are in Trafalgar Square, walk through Admiralty Arch and look right: Mark Wallinger’s White Horse sculpture was installed earlier this year, and it is a wonderful example of how modern sculpture can look so very right in a classical setting.

If, like Sasha, you’re a fan of Regent’s Canal and Clipper Teas, make sure you don’t miss her afternoon tea party on a covered barge on Regent’s Canal on 6 November. Tickets are £25 with all proceeds going to charity Contact the Elderly. Keep up to date with Sasha via @LibertyLndnGirl on Twitter.

]]> 0
Five Facts about Camden Lock Tue, 18 Jun 2013 11:00:28 +0000

Caitlin Davies, author of Camden Lock and the Market (published by Frances Lincoln), tells us five facts about Camden Lock.

“Camden Lock is one of the busiest tourist destinations in London, famed for its shopping and entertainment. Yet 40 years ago the place was just a rundown timber wharf on the banks of the Regent’s Canal.

“I worked here as a teenager in the late 1970s, when there were just a few rows of stalls set on a dirty cobbled yard.  Now it’s part of the UK’s largest street market.

“How did it get so big? What happened to the original craftspeople and stallholders? As a novelist and non-fiction writer, I thought it would be a good idea for a book.

“So I found as many traders as possible who’ve worked here over the years. What I discovered was a story of dereliction and rejuvenation, of fortunes made, careers forged, and lives changed forever.

“Here are five things I never knew about Camden Lock….

1. There is no Camden Lock!

It’s the most famous canal lock in the world that doesn’t exist! Instead there are three dual locks in the area, built in the early 1800s as part of the Regent’s Canal. The nearest to the original market is Hampstead Road Locks, where you can watch the owners of colourful narrowboats operate the lock by hand – adjusting the water level to allow vessels to pass through..

2. Camden Lock is 40 this year

It began as a collection of craft workshops housed in Victorian horse stables, officially opened to the public in April 1973. Now Camden Lock is one of London’s most popular free attractions drawing five million visitors a year. There are 280 stalls, 54 retail shops (including Oddballs, England’s oldest juggling shop), 20 offices/studios, and four eateries/restaurants.

Camden Lock Fridays, which run through the summer, feature 30 stalls in the Middle Yard showcasing hand-made arts and crafts, while a summer Night Market runs until 10pm with global street food, cocktail bars and a pop up cinema.

3. Dingwalls Dance Hall is one of Camden’s first music venues

Dingwalls opened in 1973 in an empty packaging warehouse, and soon attracted customers from the world of music and art. Acts have included Frank Zappa, Bo Diddley, the Clash, the Stranglers and more recently Mumford & Sons. The four-level venue has a capacity for 500, with bands Sunday to Thursday and comedy every Friday and Saturday.

Other entertainment venues are Highlight Comedy, with four bars over three levels, and Lockside Lounge, a bar and restaurant with club nights, DJs and live music.

4. Famous fashion brands started at Camden Lock

Some famous fashion brands started out with a single stall at Camden Lock, including Red or Dead and BodyMap. The Lock has always attracted fashionable visitors, from David Bowie to Amy Winehouse. Spend a morning browsing racks of designer items and vintage one-offs, whether shoes, knitwear, unique t-shirts or vibrant accessories.

5. The first food stall was run by an Olympic medallist

Known simply as The Stall, Olympic sprinter June Carroll (nee Foulds) opened the Lock’s first food outlet in 1974. Soon there were queues down the street!

Now the West Yard is devoted to stallholders selling food from all over the world and there’s something for every taste. Among the most popular are Sonita’s Kitchen, serving North Indian curries, and When Mac Met Cheese, selling macaroni and cheese and deep-fried Oreos. In the nearby Dingwalls Gallery is Kim’s Vietnamese Hut, two-time winner of the King of Camden Best Food award.

More about Camden

]]> 1
What’s On in London This Weekend: 14-16 September 2012 Thu, 13 Sep 2012 10:09:34 +0000 If you’re out and about this weekend, there’s a rugby showdown, a floating market with a Swedish twist, a design extravaganza and even jousting to choose from – all without straying beyond the M25.

Saracens v Tigers at Wembley
Two of the country’s top rugby teams will challenge each other this Saturday as the centrepiece of a whole day of entertainment at Wembley Stadium. (Saracens are from London, if you’re not sure who to cheer for.) The big game begins at 3.30pm, but warm up gig from is Bajan chart act Cover Drive, who opened for Rihanna on her Loud tour last year. Tickets are still available, with adult prices from £16. 15 Sept

Lambeth Country Show
Forget the big smoke and escape to Brockwell Park this weekend, as the Lambeth Country Show brings the spirit of a country fair to South London. We’re talking sheep dog displays, flower and vegetable competitions and more animals than ever before in the farm zone. There’s also live music on two stages and other rural pursuits like, er, horse jousting – though we’re not sure they really do that in the countryside! 15-16 Sep

IKEA Floating Night Market
IKEA wasn’t content with a catalogue to introduce its latest collection. It has set up a floating night market on Regent’s Canal this Friday evening, with market boats packed with its new wares including textiles inspired by graphic patterns and global influences. Reserve your free slot here for a trip that promises to be no longer than an hour. 14 Sep

New Artist Fair
Art can be expensive – for the artists as well as the public. The emerging talents at the New Artist Fair sell their work directly to guests, without any gallery fees. And if you feel like buying, the pieces range from a respectable £50 to £2,000. Around 45 artists have work on display, ranging from painting and drawing to printmaking, photography, sculpture and installations. It’s in the Old Truman Brewery, a distinctly cool building that is part of Brick Lane’s heritage and worth seeing for itself. 14-16 Sep

London Design Festival
Some 300 events on the programme means this festival of London’s design prowess could get a little daunting. Try narrowing your interests – are you more tempted by fabrics or furniture? Glass or graphic design? Or you could stick to one area – this map shows the location of the talks, exhibitions, installations and events taking place. A top spot will be the Victoria and Albert Museum, where a beam of light will follow you in the entrance tunnel while in the ceramics galleries you can climb previously closed staircases to see Keiichi Matsuda’s Prism installation in the dome. Until 23 Sep

Got any suggestions for events this weekend? Post them below and let us know.

]]> 1
What’s On This Weekend in London: 20-22 July 2012 Thu, 19 Jul 2012 11:30:11 +0000

This weekend is the last before the Olympics begin – make sure you soak up all the culture London has to offer before the city goes sport mad.

BT River of Music
The BT River of Music is a huge weekend music festival is a one-off to welcome the world to the Olympic city. Six stages – each hosting music from a different continent – will be set up along the Thames at venues like the Tower of London and Battersea Park. Artists representing every Olympic and Paralmypic nation will perform, including the Scissor Sisters and Noisettes. Tickets are free but you’ve got to book them in advance: at the time of writing, there are still some left for Asia Stage at Battersea Park and Oceania Stage at Old Royal Naval College, and for Africa Stage at London Pleasure Gardens on Sunday only.
21-22 Jul

Blue Peter’s Big Olympic Tour
Catch Blue Peter presenters Helen and Barney this weekend on the kids TV show’s Big Olympic Tour. They’ve been following the Olympic torch on its journey around the UK for special live programmes and events, and will touch down in Central Park in East Ham this Saturday and Sunday. From 10am to 4pm, there’ll be free family activities like Olympic sports, learning about the history of the Games and having a go at being a sports commentator.
21-22 Jul

Shakespeare: Staging the World at The British Museum
The British Museum has teamed up with the Royal Shakespeare Company for this major Shakespeare exhibition which explores the playwright’s London through his plays. It gives a taste of what going to the theatre was like 400 years ago, and how it connected London with the rest of the world as international trade, colonisation and diplomacy increased. The exhibition includes performance and objects from paintings and rare manuscripts to everyday items like maps and coins, all piecing together the world of the famous dramatist and his characters.
Until 25 Nov

Floating Market on Regent’s Canal
From tomorrow, a magnificent floating market will moored in Mile End near the Olympic Park. A collection of narrowboats and barges will be selling everything from books and hats to vintage frocks and handicrafts. If strolling along the official Olympic walking route makes you peckish, you can sample various foodie delights on offer, including sausages from a barge called “Marilyn”, Slovakian delicacies from “Vareska” and a selection of candyfloss, popcorn and other fun-fair based treats from The Zebra Boat.
20 Jul-16 Aug

What will you be doing this weekend? Let us know by commenting below.

]]> 0