Another side to London: Regent's Canal

We sent photographer Cieron Magat to document the characters and scenery of London's over-looked canal.

What once was an industrial heartland and then a post-industrial wasteland has now been transformed into a new city hub with homes, shops, offices, galleries, bars, restaurants, schools and even a university. It’s a brand new King’s Cross and a brand new piece of London – it’s even got it’s own new postcode, N1C.


KING'S CROSS STATION

King’s Cross is also home to Generator Hostel and a large section of Regent’s Canal, one of London’s best-kept secrets: a hideaway from the city’s bustling streets. London isn’t thought of as one of Europe’s canal cities, like Bruges or Venice, but it does have a vibrant and over-looked canal system, connected – as they all are – to the massive waterway system of the United Kingdom, which spread across the nation as the Industrial Revolution took hold.

Originally created to help transport goods to inner London, Regent’s Canal is now a haven for a slower way of life: boaters, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and lunch breakers. We sent photographer Cieron Magat to have a stroll along the length of the canal from Regent’s Park to East London. Here’s what he discovered.

ISLINGTON TUNNEL, DUNCAN TERRACE

If you’re walking from Hackney towards King’s Cross along the Regent’s Canal you’ll hit a point where the tow path stops for the Islington Tunnel. You’ll have to go back up to London’s streets and walk through Chapel market: a daily street market full of character in the centre of Angel Town. Re-join the canal and get back to its blissful haven by following signs along the streets.



The sun, the light, the water: the canal is a feast for the eyes. While one side is a towpath the other is a mixture of homes, offices and business. This functional side of the river comes alive at lunchtimes and on sunny days.


CLAIRE & SUJI

The canal is a dog walkers’ paradise. Stroll around and you’ll end up talking too so many dogs you’ll feel like a London Dr Doolittle. Suji has just come out of hospital after being treated for breast cancer and is using the canals as a slow re-introduction to the world.



Kim, 25, a researcher on her lunch break is reading Malcolm X’s Autobiography; a couple having a kiss in the centre the new gas Holder Park canalised by St Pancras Lock.





'Word on the Water' is a bookshop on a boat moored right where the canal meets the centre of King’s Cross’s new developed central hub: Granary Square. It’s a hotbed of new cafés, restaurants, 'pop-up' activities and even has an arts university. Take a break from the hoards of cool young things drinking lattes and media workers on their lunch breaks to browse the great books on display on this quaint narrow boat.

GRANARY SQUARE



Here is Granary Square’s AstroTurf steps that lead down to canal. A great place to eat outside with friends and look out onto the water – a real break from King Cross’s busy streets.



Ryan and Liam, both 17, on a break from their studies. The boys have come down to the canal to enjoy some sunshine and tranquillity. It’s a great place to catch up and eat a bag of supermarket flapjacks and smoke some cigarettes.



Listen out for bike bells. It gets tight sometimes on the towpath with pedestrian traffic and cyclists whizzing by. The constant fear of how embarrassing it would be to fall in softens the longer you spend dodging bikes.



The canals are a great place for a cheeky lie down in the sun.



The water is lively with barge after barge chugging past. It’s very relaxing and everyone’s up for waving. A wide range of tours and boat services operate along the Regent’s Canal each with their own theme or speciality from renting out a whole boat for a quiet meal for two that I’m sure is popular with Tinder dates.



Kyle, 28, and Ciaran, 30, live on a narrow boat. Over the last couple of years they’ve seen this particular stretch of canal becoming increasingly popular. Boats are moored 3 deep in this section, which Kyle puts down to the good transport links for boat livers to get to work. Both work in the creative industries and say that boat living is becoming the only way creative people can afford to live in the capital.


CAMDEN LOCK VOLUNTEER, PETE

Camden is a Mecca for London tourists eager to experience some of the city’s famous alternative scene and youth culture. The canal runs right through the centre of the famous Stables Market, which specialises in vintage clothes and arts and crafts and is a great place to get lost in. There’s a real youthful energy to it all and people line the canals drinking beers and having fun. Pete volunteers his time every Tuesday to operate Camden’s famous Lock that sits surrounded by people on sunny days. It’s probably the most rock star gig in the Canal world.




A bridge crossing the canal as it passes through Camden Town.



A busker belting out Brit-pop classics in Camden. Obviously. Pictured next to one of the waterway’s beautiful narrow boats going past the important peoples’s houses in Hampstead.



Spotting funny boat names is a thing on the canals.



A boatful of people enjoying ‘Boat Music tours’ which pick people up from Camden Market and take them on musical journeys up the canal through Regent’s Park.



As you hit the tow path that runs through Regent’s Park the weekend crowds disperse and you’re left alone with some London wildlife.



Feng Shang Princess is London’s famous floating Chinese restaurant opposite London Zoo.



A dad and son in matching grey tracksuits take a rest from walking by the canal.



After walking past the London Zoo and through the picturesque Regent’s Park you’ll hit a quiet zone at the very end of the canal and the furthest point you can walk. It’s a permanent mooring for narrow boats and a great way to see them in all their splendour. Trees adorned with decorations hung by the boat owners hang over the narrow towpath. It's a nice way to end the canal stroll. All in all, it's a lovely day out – only a stone's throw from Generator London.