5 Things to do Off The Beaten Path in London
Whether you're visiting London or live here and fancy seeing something new, sometimes the number of choices open to you can be overwhelming. Here are a few things you might not find in all of the tourguides. Take your camera with you, because there are some great photo opportunities.
- Things To Do in London
- Canal Walk from Little Venice to Camden
- Leake Street Graffiti
- Jogging Downhill
- The Best Bar in London
- Sir John Soame's Museum
Things To Do in London
I was born and raised in London and, like a lot of Londoners, I spent a long time avoiding the touristy things. Then I went away and I saw a bunch of fantastic things and met a heap of incredible people and visited a tonne of wonderful places, all over the world. And when I came back to London I didn’t want to stop exploring. Now I live on the other side of the world, but I went back to London again for a holiday recently, and here are some of the Must-See sights I had to go to. This is the tour that is not recommended by the Lonely Planet. If you like to see the same things that everybody else sees then this guide might not be for you. I think these are especially great if you’re a little snap-happy. Take your camera with you – there’s a million-and-one great chances to take pictures.
Canal Walk from Little Venice to Camden
You might want to crack out your Google maps to help you with this. I used to live around the Little Venice area, and it’s gorgeous on a good day. Look for the pictures you might not think of taking. I used to have some lovely shots of reflections in the canal. I’d turn them upside down, giving everything a lovely shimmery feel. If you do it right, your picture will look magical, and people will think it’s a fancy trick from Photoshop.
Take the tube to Warwick Avenue station. For those of you not from London, the Tube is the big thing on wheels, underground. Keep the funny looking church behind you and walk South East on Warwick Avenue. Turn right down Warwick Place – it’s a tiny road with a nice pub and a good vibe. Once you get to the end of Warwick Place you should be able to see a bridge over the canal. Near to here is the Canal Cafe Theatre, another nice pub. If you wanted to drink a lot on this walk, you’d be off to a fantastic start.
Instead of crossing the bridge, you should start walking down Blomfield Road, keeping the water on your right. As soon as you can get down to the water’s edge you should do so – this walk is all about the canal-life.
At Westminster Court you’re going to have to walk through Aberdeen Place until you see water again. This is the scuzzy part of the trip – it gets a lot better after this. In Aberdeen Place you’ll pass a row of recycle bins. Just after this is a narrow alleyway that takes you back on to the canal. From hereonin you should be able to keep the water by your side all the way to Camden. Some highlights of this walk are the houseboat communities you’ll pass along the way and the How-The-Bejesus-Did-Anyone-Get-Rich-Enough-To-Afford-One-Of-Those type mansions in Regent’s Park.
Once you reach Camden you might want to join everybody else in visiting Camden Market. Some places worth visiting in Camden include the Chin-Chin Laboratorists nitro ice-cream parlour, the Cuban bar inside the market or the Hawley Arms. And we’re back drinking again! The Hawley Arms was Amy Winehouse’s favourite pub for a long time, until it burnt down. I’ve not been there since it reopened, but it used to have a great roof-garden bit.
Leake Street Graffiti
Again, you need to break out your Google maps. This time you’re looking for Leake Street, near Waterloo. It used to be a road for taxis back in the days when Waterloo ran the Eurostar. In May 2008 it hosted the Banksy-organised Cans Festival, a celebration of some of Europe’s foremost Graffiti/Street Art talent. A second Cans Festival later that year changed a lot of the artwork – in my opinion for the worse. I haven’t been there in a while, but the last time I went graffiti was still encouraged, and they were pumping classical music into the street to help give you maximal enjoyment. Banksy might not be hosting any more big events here, but it’s still a great place to come and look and take photos.
I used to love jogging in London, but I wasn’t a big one for going uphill. Luckily for me, It’s possible to jog for a very long way in this capital city without ever having to face a vertical climb.
I used to begin at Swiss Cottage station and run down Avenue road until I hit Regent’s Park. Here I’d turn right on Prince Albert Road until it changed into St John’s Wood Road. Pass by Middlesex cricket Ground, then keep going until you’re on Maida Vale. If you were so inclined, you might take the opportunity to visit the zebra crossing made famous by the Beatles, but maybe not this time, right? We’re jogging, after all. Cross the busy road and turn left. Turn right onto Blomfield Rd, keeping the canal on your left. Turn left straight after the second bridge and run until you meet the extra busy main road. Westbourne Terrace is on the other side of the main road, and it takes you to Hyde Park.
If you’re not a seasoned jogger, this might be the time you decide to call it a day. Alternatively, you might want to start your run from this spot. Regent’s Park is nice, and all, but it is from here that you really start enjoying the views.
Enter the park, run past the Italian Gardens and the Serpentine will be on your left. Take the path that forks away from the lake until you hit the Albert Memorial. The Royal Albert Hall is the other side of the Memorial, outside the park. Run around it, clockwise. The other side of the Hall is Prince Consort Road. Turn right, and then take the left on to Queen’s Gate. Run South.
You’ll pass by a couple of great museums. You’ll enjoy Chelsea. Eventually you’ll hit the Thames. Here you can either cross the bridge and go into Battersea Park, or you can turn left before you cross the bridge and keep running along the river until you meet Embankment. Either way, you’re going to see a lot of great things, and get many ideas for more places to visit on your travels around London.
The best bit is, it’s all downhill!
The Best Bar in London
I used to work at this place, so I’m a little biased, but I still reckon Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues Bar, on Kingly Street, Soho, near to Oxford Circus, is the best bar in the whole city.
It’s very small, and very packed, and you might have to queue to get in. There’s live music every night, and during the day on the Weekend. The name might give it away – this is a blues bar. But on Saturday afternoon they have a smashing acoustic jam which sounds a lot more Bob Dylan than Howling Wolf. On top of which, you’re
Sir John Soame's Museum
There really isn’t a bad museum in London. They’re all great, and they’re all, more or less, free. The Tate Modern was the first place I wanted to go to on my recent holiday back in town. But this is a cracking little place that is getting noticed more and more by holiday type guides.
John Soames, a long time ago, collected all kinds of bat-shit crazy random historical and archaeological stuff and stuff. When he died they put all of his things into this house, in Lincoln Fields, near to Holborn. The joy of the place is in wandering around, looking at everything, hoping to God that you don’t knock any of it over with a stray elbow.
Nowadays, like I say, pretty much everybody knows about this place. But that doesn’t stop it from being special.
I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of things to do and see in London. If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments box below. And, as always, thank you for reading!