CAMDEN TOWN Northern Line (Edgware) LONDON TUBE RAMBLES
There are several routes from Camden - the longest is about 3 miles.
Markets galore - and a canal wander with several surprises! For the magical world of the Camden Lock Markets, follow the exit signs from the Tube station. Walking down Camden High Street, go over Inverness Street. Here there are stalls trading seven days a week, but in fact the whole area is one vast market, many of the brightly coloured small shops advertising their wares with huge models of shoes etc. Cross Jamestown Road. When you arrive at the lock go down the slope to the canal. The first building you come across is the Lock Keepers Cottage now a coffee shop and (low-key) information centre. To the left is the modern curved green Ice Wharf apartment block which takes its name from two mid-nineteenth century ice wells - vital for storing perishable goods in the days before mechanical refrigeration. The large red brick building to the right is the Interchange Warehouse - an important place when railways were used to transport goods from the waterway. Pass over the lock by the pretty 1845 roving bridge, built to enable towing horses to reach the path on the other side of the canal. (Take care, the cobbled surface is very uneven). Go through a small archway to find a square where there is a waterbus company if you fancy a trip down the canal.
Once through a large square archway you can get to the Stables and Horse Hospital markets - both fascinating buildings in their own right. Some magnificent horse sculptures are to be found, particularly in the tunnel where animals used to be brought up from the busy goods yard which ran from Gilbey's Yard east of the lock all the way to where the Underground station is now in Chalk Farm Road.* The whole market resembles a souk, with units created in every dark nook and cranny - tempting aromas from the many exotic food outlets drift pleasantly down the cobbled pathways. Most of the markets are open during the week, but it is particularly at weekends that they are crowded with tourists and trendy youngsters drawn by the vast array of 'alternative' clothes and jewellery.
For full details see the Market website .Please note that photographing individual stalls is not allowed without prior permission of the owners.
Allow plenty of time to explore the hundreds of stalls and perhaps sample the street food before leaving by the railway bridge exit. Go to the left and cross Chalk Farm Road at the zebra for a good view of the Horse Hospital. Return, and walk the length of the high brick wall. Pass Morrisons supermarket and shortly you will come to the The Round House, originally an engine house before being taken over by the manufacturers of Gilbey's gin as a bonded warehouse. Chalk Farm Tube station - a handsome Edwardian affair in dark red tiles - is not far away. Continue along the main road (now Haverstock Hill), then cross Regent's Park Road. The station is on the corner of Adelaide Road.
After the bustle of the markets you may fancy a peaceful stroll along the Regent's Canal past London Zoo to discover a bridge with a interesting history. Go down on to the tow path opposite Pirates Castle, a youth club from which children can take out canoes and generally have a lot of fun. Walk away from the lock. Soon rather more sedate buildings in the form of grand houses line the far bank and then at Cumberland Basin comes another oddity - a floating pagoda restaurant, the Feng Shang Princess. Further on you will see the huge Snowdon Aviary, while across the water is the waterbus stop for the Zoo. Any children with you will delight in gory imaginings on reading the red notice under a flagpole attached to the shelter: 'Emergency Alert. Do not moor or land when red flag is flying.' After admiring the birds in the aviary, which include Sacred Ibis and Little Egrets, you might want to go a bit further on to have a look at Blow-Up Bridge, (about a mile from the markets). This stretch of the canal is not built up but lined with trees on either side. It's astonishingly peaceful after the razmataz of the locks, though you do have to look out for cyclists and joggers.
As its name suggests, the bridge (second one after the aviary) was the scene of a disaster. In 1874 a gunpowder barge blew up sending the bridge in all directions. The canal was closed for three days and such was the hurry to get the bridge rebuilt that the indestructible cast iron columns, clearly marked Coalbrookdale' at the top, were put back the wrong way round, so tow rope marks are visible on both sides of one of the columns. If you are feeling energetic you could walk to Little Venice, two and a half miles further on. Warwick Avenue Tube is only a few minutes walk away from the canal.
An alternative is to return along the towpath as far as the bridge at Cumberland Basin, follow the sign 'Camden Lock' away from the canal and turn right into Albert Road. Continue along this road until you come to Parkway junction where you can pick up the trail (reversing the directions!) to Mornington Crescent Tube station (about ten minutes).
Typical market display
Shops in Camden High Street
Horse and cart sculpture
Macclesfield ('Blow-up' Bridge) and rope marks on column
A canal character
*Those interested in railway history may like to check out the second half of the Mornington Crescent walk for details of the goods yard that once operated here.
This is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!