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Kings Cross to Camden Walk

This leisurely walk is 2.5km, from Battlebridge Basin to Camden along the Regent's Canal in London.

Walk

Location

St Pancras

Distance

2.5km (1.6 miles)

Ease

Leisurely

activity image

Follow this leisurely self guided walk, highlighting points of interest along the Regent’s Canal.

Discover the history of some of London’s industrial warehouses, iconic developments and landmarks along the Regent’s Canal.

 

 

Walk Details

Surface

Reasonable, rough in places.

Accessibility

The walks are relatively flat so can be excellent for people whose mobility isn’t good. Not all the access points to towpaths have ramps (some require getting up or down quite steep stairs).

Kings Cross to Camden Walk Map

Find directions to the Activity

Begin The Walk

1. Battlebridge Basin

The walk starts at Battlebridge Basin, which takes its moniker from the original name of the area, and a legend of a battle between Boudicca and the Romans.

The basin was completed in 1825 for landowner William Horsfall. Two warehouses remain: one was Porter’s bottling works (once the London bottling plant for Guinness, now a design studio), the other houses London Canal Museum. London Canal Museum is halfway along the basin. Formerly Carlo Gatti’s warehouse, it still has ice wells and dates from 1856.

2. Maiden Lane Bridge

Walk to York Way / Maiden Lane Bridge for a view back (east) to Islington Tunnel. Some 960 yards (878m) long it has no towpath, so boats were legged through until a tug was introduced in 1826. This tugging service operated until the 1930s.

The unusually large dimensions of the tunnel and waterway stem from its design as an ‘import-export’ canal, able to take Thames lighters bringing cargoes from London Docks.

The stop gates next to Maiden Lane Bridge were installed during WWII to lessen damage by flooding in the event of a breach. This was critical, as main lines serving King’s Cross Station go under the canal just the other side of the bridge. Maiden Lane Bridge itself now carries York Way. Nearby were the dust-heaps that feature in Dickens’ Household Words magazine

3. Granary Square

Turn off the towpath and up a ramp on the right, which leads to the former Great Northern Railway Co’s Goods Yard, on the high ground to the north of the towpath.

This includes the Granary Building (Lewis Cubitt, 1852) which once had an interchange basin leading off the canal, with wharves for barges under the building. The Goods Yard redevelopment, as King’s Cross Central, is one of central London’s biggest developments.

The basin (infilled at the end of WWI) is now the site of Granary square.

4. Eastern & Western Coal Drops

On the west side of Granary square, the Eastern & Western Coal Drops (1850s) have been refurbished to a Thomas Heatherwick design. With the Fish and Coal Offices (1852-7), this area is now a smart precinct of shops and cafés

5. St Pancras Lock

Walk past the Fish and Coal Offices at basement level, turning left to re-join the towpath below st Pancras Lock.

This basement was the coal depot’s extensive stables (400 horses) which included a hospital for horses.Camley street natural Park (off-side below the lock) was set up in 1985 by London Wildlife Trust & LB Camden on the site of the old railway coal chute area and accommodates hundreds of plant species.

St Pancras Lock itself, like all locks on the Regent’s Canal, was built as a pair to cope with heavy traffic. It was singled (with the second lock chamber rebuilt as an automatic weir) as part of economising measures in the 1980s.The waterpoint (behind the lock house) is a George Gilbert Scott design (1872). It was the water tank for locomotives. The structure was moved from St Pancras Station in 2001 to its present site to make space for Eurostar. It is presently in use (temporarily) by st Pancras Cruising Club as its clubhouse

6. Gasholders

Four gasholders have now been re-erected above St Pancras Lock: three of which house apartment blocks. The fourth is a public open space called Gasholder Green.

They were once part of the gasworks of Imperial Gas Light & Coke Co, a customer of the canal, which opened on the off-side bank in 1824, next to the site of King’s Cross Station. Coal was delivered, and ashes and by-products taken out, via a canal basin

7. Elm Village

In 1810 William Agar bought Elm Grove, an estate across the intended line of the canal. He was possibly related to George Agar, one of the canal’s proprietors. He refused access to the Canal Company for a long time, until eventually, after law suits and payment of compensation, he relented.

Later, his son built a huge shanty-town on the land (Agar Town), described by Dickens as the worst slums in London. They were demolished in 1868 for Midland Railway’s goods yards. After they subsequently closed, the area was re-developed as Elm Village.

8. Camden Road Bridge

At Camden road Bridge, then Camden Street Bridge, note the grooves worn by tow-ropes picking up grit from the path. The River Fleet passes in a culvert under the canal between these bridges

9. Kentish Town Bridge

Kentish Town Bridge is followed by Kentish Town Lock and Hawley Lock (named after the landowner, Sir Henry Hawley). The building of the former Camden Brewery (off-side, 1900) was rebuilt in 1982 as the studios of new breakfast TV company, TV-AM. It’s now MTV’s studios. Walker’s Quay (left, off-side) is where the Jenny Wren trip-boat has run from since 1968

10. Hampstead Road Locks

Hampstead Road Locks are the only surviving pair of locks.

These are the top locks of the 12 along the waterway, which take the canal down 86ft to Limehouse Basin.

11. Canal Information Centre

The former lock house is an 1815 castellated cottage, now Starbucks and a canal information centre. Regular through freight traffic on the Regent’s Canal continued until the 1960s, while some timber trade continued until 1970.

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