Head of Everything at The Indytute, Calypso is an ex-accessories designer turned experience junkie who scours the city to find our brilliant experiences. She lives life on her canal boat with her husband, bunny and a little one. Here are two of her favourite winter adventures along the canal that she calls home.
Ok, so adventure might be stretching it. This is a pub crawl. Last time I did this with The Sailor, I created a score sheet, with each pub getting marks for history / snacks / decor, you get the idea…! Bonus adventure points for spotting Scar - the giant carp with a wedge out of his back - a terrapin, or Jeremy and his brilliant canal diving dog, Gibson, along the way.
If you’re coming from afar, get the orange line to Haggerston and find your way to the Haggerston Riviera (otherwise known as The Regents Canal). Just by the lovely Kingsland Basin, you can set yourself up for the day with a meat feast at Dukes. Then you’ll want to head towards Islington, along the canal path to The Rosemary Branch. This is my local - you’ll spot me there on a Sunday loitering by the piano, looking keen for a sing-a-long (uh oh).
The Island Queen, Islington. Image: makenewtracks.com
Carry on walking along the canal and head towards the Narrow Boat pub. The Narrow Boat is a favourite with boaters and you’ll see them charging up phones, laptops and head torches - however I like it for chips and red wine. Next stop is The Island Queen, a really beautiful and original pub - the bar man also told me it was a hot spot for break ups?! Definitely worth checking out, but maybe go with a mate (just in case). On for one (or probably more) at The Earl of Essex - they have a massive beer selection. Next to the Duke of Cambridge. I would grab a bite to eat at The Duke of Cambridge, it’s Britain's first and only certified organic pub and never disappoints. They are also quite good with kids - big tables, and they don’t mind too much when your child sends a carrot flying.
If you are out for the night, cut through Islington’s Chapel Market and pick up the canal again in Kings Cross, carry on walking and you’ll get to Granary Square. Have a drink and nibbles in Dishoom or small plates at Caravan and then end the night in Spiritland. The cocktails are masterpieces and it has a world class sound system but whatever you do - don’t start wiggling your shoulders or you might get a nod of disapproval - “it’s a listening bar only”.
On a crisp winter morning, you might think paddle boarding is a little eccentric - but with only 1 in 14 beginners falling in, you’ve got a good chance of keeping dry. The canal isn’t as cold as it looks, the group sizes are small and it’s so tranquil paddling through Paddington.
After your first mini adventure, walk along the canal through Little Venice - boaters are like hedgehogs in winter - all curled up, happily hibernating with the cosy fires burning. If you want to become a boater for the night and do some London glamping, book in to Velvet Morning the narrow boat - with crisp white sheets and a full size bath she’s more boatel than boat! Just don’t dry your socks on the woodburner (and leave your hair dryer behind). To end the day, head to The Canal Cafe Theatre to see NewsRevue - the most brilliant, comedy news show. I’ve been four times as the show changes each week with the news and i’ve have cried laughing every time. Plus, two pubs not to miss: The Warwick Castle & The Bridge House.
Little Venice in Winter. Image: thebigfatnoodle.com