Try our guide to walking the City Road Basin for a spot of boat, wildlife and people watching.
1. Start your canal tour by taking the 43 bus from Angel towards Old Street. Get off the bus just before Islington’s tallest building, 36-storey Lexicon. On the corner of Graham Street/City Road look for the path beside the canal which takes you to Islington Boat Club, which has boating sessions for 50+ on Tuesday mornings; narrow boat helmsman training and the chance to try a sail boat, kayak or a 10-person bell boat.
2. On the moored platform in the centre of City Road Basin you may see a yoga lesson which can only be reached by boat. You will certainly spot white-beaked coots, ducks and on Saturday mornings lots of happy kids at Islington Boat Club.
3. Both the Boat Club and the revamped, pretty Graham Street Park are on the site of the British Drug Houses chemical factory, hit by a V1 bomb in 1944. Have a look at stories about Islington and the Blitz on the information boards in the park.
4. Walk past the elegantly restored Diespeker Building, on Graham Street, which used to house an Italian terrazzo (flooring) company, and is now the HQ for architects Pollard Thomas Edwards. At the next bridge you can join the canal.
5. Turn left and walk by the canal, parallel to Vincent Terrace, and then when the Regent’s Canal goes into the half mile hand dug tunnel under Angel, cross to the opposite tow path parallel to Noel Road. Between here and City Road Lock many narrow boats are moored – a chance to choose which boat you’d like to live on and the boat with the best name.
6. By City Road Lock enjoy another view of City Road Basin – it’s one of Islington’s biggest open spaces.
7. By Hanover School relax on the fish shaped mosaic benches to enjoy their tow path garden or read the panels capturing the area’s history. The Regent’s Canal is a 13.5km stretch of the Grand Union Canal which runs from Little Venice to Limehouse Basin. It was completed in 1820. This area is where the free Angel Canal Festival has been held for the past 30 years on the first Sunday in September (4 September 2016).
8. At Wharf Road Bridge you can try the first of several good pubs. The Narrow Boat, 119 St Peter’s Street offers canalside views towards Wenlock Basin and food. The Island Queen, is just up the steps on the left at 87 Noel Road. Or detour and walk up St Peter’s Street to Islington’s famous organic pub, the Duke of Cambridge. In the other direction at 44 Wharf Road you can look through Waterside’s huge gates to see pulleys and proper old warehouses – giving a real sense of how Britain was the industrial centre of the world. A little further down at 16 Wharf Road there’s the Victoria Miro gallery (open tues-sun, free).
9. Many of the old warehouses have been converted into gated apartments but if you go back to the tow path and head towards the New North Road bridge you will pass redeveloped Packington Estate and on the far side of the canal the Holborn Studios, although this unique building and impressive chimney is at risk of demolition despite energetic campaigns to save it. Use the tiny Shepherdess Walk Bridge if you want a snack at the Commissary Bar & Kitchen – this part of the canal’s only café.
10. As you near the New North Road Bridge look out for the signs that suggest how long it will take to cycle or walk to the Olympic Park, or even further.
11. Final Islington pub is the Rosemary Branch found just after passing the Gainsborough Studios, which was used by thriller film maestro Alfred Hitchcock. Exit the canal path at the steps up to Bridport Place and find the pub-theatre by the zebra crossing – perfect if you need a dog-friendly stop.
12. To return, retrace your steps until New North Bridge for buses. Or go to the end of the canal path, up the ramp to Duncan Street and then left on Upper Street to reach Angel tube.