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Hidden London: Walking the Regent's Canal Towpath to the River Thames

Where: Regent's Canal Towpath, London, United Kingdom
May 24, 2011 at 10:45 AM | by | ()

London is a city that lends itself well to bipedal exploration, whether via itinerated walking tour or aimless wandering. Of the many routes visitors can traverse, the Regents Canal towpath is not a particularly pretty or popular one among tourists. The canal itself is littered, its waters a muddy blue-green, the trail often buzzing on weekends as cyclists and walkers compete for territorial dominance.

"So," you may think, "you're telling us it's ugly, crowded and literally off the beaten path?" Well, yes, but there is something charmingly quirky about this little known—at least by out-of-towners—byway. If initiated enough, it's possible to walk the canal from North London to the River Thames, skimming past some of the city's most colorful neighborhoods along the way. If you choose to go the whole nine yards (or, rather, nine miles), you'll pass many a family of ducks, amble past East London's Broadway Market and have more than a few dive-y pubs to pop into when the urge to quaff a pint surfaces. (Trust us; this will happen.)

We recently took to the towpath for a sunny afternoon walk, stumbling across the eponymous Towpath Cafe, a nondescript eatery in between Whitmore and Kingsland Road Bridge. Here, Hoxton hipsters congregate outdoors to sip artisanal coffee and eat rustic organic cuisine such as aubergine and olive stew and veggie-rich farro salad, finishing off their meal with a slice of olive oil cake or homemade ice cream.

For a detailed list of canal checkpoints, visit the ever-so-informative Wikipedia page. The canal enthusiasts among you (um, if those exist) can visit the London Canal Museum for more in-depth information while you're in town.

[Photo: Heidi Atwal]

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