This walk starts and finishes at the picturesque Little Venice and takes you through the beautiful green corridor of The Regent's Canal, Primrose Holland St John's Wood. An area rich in history, this corner of London has played a significant part in the capital's development both economically and culturally.
Boasting former residents of writers, artists and inventors this area has always been somewhat avant-garde and is now home to some of London's most desirable addresses.
Take the left exit out of Warwick Avenue tube, walk straight ahead and take the first road on the right, Warwick Place. At the end of the road, turn left and walk over Westbourne Terrace Road Bridge. On the right hand side of the bridge is the Old Toll House which dates from 1812. On the left is the Pool of Little Venice, so named by the poet Robert Browning, who lived overlooking the canal.
On the bridge, turn left towards the slope. Here you will find a footbridge back over the canal. Cross the footbridge onto the towpath opposite the Waterside Cafe, sign-posted to Camden and Regent's Park. Following the towpath under Warwick Avenue Bridge, you willreach the pretty residential moorings of Blomfield Road, one of the most prestigious canal mooring sites in London. Turn off the towpath onto Blomfield Road for a hundred metres. At the end of Blomfield Road the canal disappears into the Maida Hill Tunnel. Cross over Edgware Road into Aberdeen Place.
Continue until you reach the Crocker's Folly public house on your left. Once a large hostelry, The Crockers was built in anticipation of a new railway terminal, which was eventually built further South at Marylebone. Continue straight ahead and along the pathway sign-posted Regent's Canal. Walk down the steep flight of steps and back onto the canal towpath. You have now reached Lisson Grove.
Originally architect John Nash intended to have the Regent's Canal running through the middle of the park, but he was persuaded that the bad language of the navvies would offend the refined residents of the area so he altered his plans. Nash had plans to build 56 villas in Regent's Park, however only eight were completed. The beautiful white villas on the right were built to Nash's original designs during the late 1980s and early 1990s and drew inspiration from the architecture of ancient Greece, Rome and the Renaissance period.
Continuing along the towpath, you will pass under two bridges. The first is an aqueduct carrying the forgotten River Tyburn over the canal. The second is the notorious Macclesfield Bridge or Blow up Bridge. Here, in 1874, a barge carrying gunpowder exploded and destroyed the bridge. Evidence of the explosion can be found on a nearby plane tree which survived the blast. Passing underneath the bridge, the famous Snowdon aviary of London Zoo will come into view.
Ahead you will see the Feng Shane Chinese floating restaurant moored in Cumberland Basin.
This arm of the canal used to stretch towards Euston station but was largely filled in with bomb rubble after the Second World War. At this point, the canal takes a sharp turn to the left towards Camden. From Cumberland Basin Camden Lock is approximately five or ten minutes' walk along the towpath, should you wish to make a detour. Camden is best known for its alternative and vibrant market scene, which centres on a cobbled courtyard just off the canal. Camden Lock Market is particularly lively at weekends and is a great place to break from the walk for shopping and refreshments
For those that don't want to visit Camden, the circular walk leaves the towpath on the left, immediately after the rail and road bridge. Up the stairs, you will emerge on Gloucester Avenue. For those who detoured to Camden, retrace your footsteps back past the Pirate Castle to the rail and road bridge and take the stairs on the right immediately before the bridge. At the top of the path, continue in the same direction, keeping The Engineer pub on your left. Take the third exit on the left - Fitzroy Road, crossing Chalcot Road, to No 23 Fitzroy Road on the left. Number 23 Fitzroy Road is the former home of the Irish poet William Yeats. The poet and writer Sylvia Plath also lived in the upstairs maisonette of 23 Fitzroy Road until 11 February 1963, when she ended her life (see more detail on London’s Blue Plaques).
Return to Chalcot Road and turn left. Opposite Chalcot Square is another former residence of Sylvia Plath. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes lived at 3 Chalcot Square from February 1960 - August 1961. At the end of Chalcot Road, bear left into Chalcot Crescent with its beautiful Georgian houses. At the end of Chalcot Crescent, turn right into Regent's Park Road, cross the road and enter Primrose Hill. Following the path through the park to the top of the hill you can admire the panoramic views across the capital. Primrose Hill is popular with kite fliers and frisbee flingers but is also ideal for relaxation or maybe a picnic.
Walking over the hill, take the left path and head down the hill the other side. At the T-junction in the path, turn left and exit the park on St. Edmunds Terrace. Walk down St. Edmund Terrace over Avenue Road into Allitsen Road. Continue straight on Allitsen Road, (follow the cycle route rather than the car route) to the end where it meets St John's Wood High Street. Turn left. On your right you will pass 45a, the former home of composer Benjamin Britten. Britten worked on his first opera, Peter Grimes whilst living here and the opera was an immediate success when it was first performed in 1945.
Turn right off St John's Wood High Street into Wellington Place. At the end of Wellington Place, cross Wellington Road and turn left towards the roundabout where you will turn right into St John's Wood Road. Continuing down this road, you will pass, on the right, the world-famous Lords Cricket Ground, home of England's cricket team since 1813. It is widely rumoured that soil excavated from the Maida Hill tunnel during the creation of the Regent's Canal was used as top soil for the Lords Cricket Ground. Opposite Lord's is the Liberal Jewish Synagogue which was built in 1925. Bomb damage during the war forced the synagogue council into a major rebuilding project. It now features works of art, including a Holocaust sculpture by award-winning artist Anish Kapoor.
Continue down St John's Wood Road. A short detour at this point will take you to the Abbey Road studios made famous by the Beatles but we are carrying on to Hamilton Terrace. At Hamilton Terrace you will find two Blue Plaques. The first, at Number 17 is the former home of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the great Victorian civil engineer best known for designing and building the hundreds of miles of underground sewers in London. It is claimed that Bazalgette saved more lives than any other single Victorian public official. Number 20, on the opposite side of the road, was home to William Stung, artist and founder member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers. Another former resident of number 20 was Sir George Alexander Macfarren, a prolific Victorian composer, who lived and died here in 1887.
Return to St John's Wood road and turn right. At the junction with Maida Vale, cross the road and into Clifton Gardens. Number nine Clifton Gardens was home to Professor Sir John Ambrose Fleming, the electrical engineer, whose invention of the thermionic valve paved the way for modern communications such as radio and telephone. Continue down Clifton Gardens and you will arrive at your starting point of Warwick Avenue tube station.
4.5 miles / 7.24 km
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