24 Hours Exploring Camden Borough

You have 24 hours in the Camden Borough, London. You could rush around and say you’ve ‘done’ Camden in a few hours and then go to Central London and ‘do’ that too, or you could take the time to really explore the boundaries and see the London borough beyond Camden Market and Camden Lock.

8am It’s Saturday. Wake up early so as ‘not to waste the day’ at my flat in Kilburn. Persuade my boyfriend to get out of bed even though he only got in it a few hours ago. Pull on some jeans and a top, but bring a jumper and coat too. Slip an umbrella in my bag just in case too. Learned the hard way to never trust the London skies.

8:30am Pay 50p to get in the boot sale at St Mary’s School on Quex Road, Kilburn. Hope to find a bargain like last week’s vintage binoculars for just £3.

9:30am No bargains. Stomach’s rumbling. Agree to go to LoveFood in West Hampstead for a traditional big breakfast, with a Bloody Mary on the side.

10:27am Stuffed. Must. Move. From. Seat.

10:52am Charity shop shopping on West End Lane in West Hampstead and fully enjoying the run of eight of them. Boyfriend finds some top quality dapper shoes, they “fit like a glove”. Purchased for him and in the bag. Of course I have to carry them all day now.

11:22am Wander through Hampstead admiring all the beautiful big houses. “How do these people afford them?” Come over all entrepreneurial and conceive a multi-million pound business plan with serious potential.

11:33am Find gaping holes in business plan, decide to think about it later.

12:16pm At Hampstead Heath and sit down to rest our throbbing legs. Watch all the dog walkers and think I’d quite like a dog. Then dog squats and owner does the hand/bag trick to pick up the offerings. Stomach churns. Resolve to never have a dog.

12:40pm Get invited to join in a Frisbee game and picnic with some cool kids. Feel honoured and am reminded London isn’t as unfriendly as everyone makes out.

1:30pm Bored of Frisbee and make our excuses so we can go to the deli shops that line the Heath to get a picnic lunch.

1:45pm Bottle of Cava takes my fancy.

2pm Get back on the Heath and eat lunch by the dipping ponds. Watch all the crazy women braving the cold for a swim. Debate whether I could do that. “Another day, maybe”

3:46pm Wake up from a hazy, drink-induced sleep and decide to venture up to Parliament Hill to take some photos of the incredible view of London.

4:15pm Eat ice cream and marvel at the view from up here. Try to show off London geographical knowledge, but I’m actually making things up. I say it with such conviction boyfriend doesn’t even question me. Good skill learnt from dad.

4:53pm In Belsize Park now to watch the early evening screening at the Everyman Cinema. Share popcorn and sweets.

7:09pm Walk down Haverstock Hill and arrive into Chalk Farm – have a quick look around the Camden Markets and get some pizza to eat at the tables in the market.

8:30pm Stop for a pint on Camden Lock in the disappearing sunshine. The Lockside Lounge is buzzing with trendies and we can see over the market.

Camden Borough

9:06pm Make our way back along Chalk Farm Road and visit the Lock Tavern to sit in the roof garden.

10:46pm Pear cider is flowing through my veins and I need to dance it off. In the queue for Proud in the Camden Stables.

11:14pm Finally in! Shots are lined up, oh dear. Admire the decor, especially the original horse stables kept intact. Oo, shot time.

2:30am Thrown out, last ones in the club. Achievement.

3am Walk over to Marathon Kebab House just up the road. Start to order chips and cheese and then realise there’s a party going on out the back. Buy some beers from behind the counter and join in.

5am Climb up to Primrose Hill and watch the sun rise over the city. Drunk, it’s beautiful. I’d cry if I had the energy.

7am Collapse into bed.

Top 10 tips for making the most of Camden

  1. Walk it, or rent a Boris bike. Third choice is to get a bus, but there’s no need to hide away on the Underground.
  2. Plan for all weathers – a day in London can bring extreme heat and then hailstones. If you’re climbing up to Parliament Hill you’ll be especially grateful for this piece of advice.
  3. Make sure to explore the back streets and never judge a shop or café by their frontage. Many restaurants in this area are just hiding their coolness in the back.
  4. Take your time in the parks and suck up the fresh air.
  5. Before you leave the house check on the internet for farmers markets and jumble sales you could frequent along the way.
  6. Wear comfy shoes, but not trainers or you won’t get in the clubs later.
  7. Make sure your camera is well charged – you’re sure to want to take plenty of photos when you see the beautiful views from Parliament Hill and Primrose Hill, and all the sights in Camden Town.
  8. Shop around before you purchase anything on Camden Market, the prices can vary greatly.
  9. Save money by visiting one of the supermarkets for your lunch rather than the Hampstead Heath deli shops where everyone panic buys.
  10. There are loads of bars in Camden, some a lot better than others so have a scout around before you commit to buying a drink.
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11 Comments

  1. by Michelle on May 30, 2012  1:18 pm Reply

    Ahh this brings back memories, I lived right around the corner from that train bridge in your photo. Camden is great always buzzing, and if you want a break you can head to Hampstead and feel as if you are in a country village.

    And Marathon, many a night finished up there!

    My tip, keep your eyes open for any Bansky graffiti art!

    • by Vicky on May 30, 2012  4:13 pm Reply

      You might find this hard to believe Michelle, but I actually met the love of my life in Marathon! Haha, we've been together 3 1/2 years - can't believe I met him in there, but it's a very special kebab shop to me :)

      • by Michelle on May 30, 2012  5:26 pm Reply

        I thought that was one special kabab shop! Great story!

  2. by Marie @ A Montrealer Abroad on June 8, 2012  2:17 pm Reply

    Great recap of a great day in a great neighborhood! I used to live in Camden (just off Camden Road near the Canal) and I just relived an entire year of my life reading this post. Thanks for sharing :-)

    • by Vicky on June 8, 2012  2:52 pm Reply

      Ooo, I used to work there, near Grand Union. Ah, happy to bring back some memories for you :)

  3. by Monica on July 24, 2012  10:35 pm Reply

    Ooo I like this. I've haven't seen more than Camden Market and, to be totally honest, I didn't know there was much more to see. You've opened my eyes!

    And I'm glad I'm not the only person who looks up at gorgeous houses and wonders how people can afford them and then think of a billion ways I could afford them. I usually decide that would be far too much effort and decide to win the lottery in a year or two. (I don't play yet because I'm not quite ready to be a millionaire. Maybe when I'm about 28!)

    • by Vicky on July 25, 2012  1:07 pm Reply

      Oh no! Monica you need to explore :) I'll take you out - have you been to Primrose Hill yes? It's one of my favourite places in London. Good call on waiting a few years to win the Lotto - then you can appreciate the money all the more and take me on holiday too :)

  4. by Mish on July 24, 2012  11:32 pm Reply

    My husband and I lived right by Chalk Farm station for 6 months (before going off travelling) and we pretty much experienced every single thing you did (albeit over a much longer time frame)!

    Every day we'd try to think up a successful business plan that would allow us to buy a house on Provost Road (just behind Adelaide Road). All ours had gaping holes in them too.

    Marathon: BEST PLACE EVER! The servers are the sweetest, funniest guys.

    We spent New Year's Eve at the top of Primrose Hill - also drunk. I *think* I cried - can't really recall.

    Sounds like you had an incredible time, and I think you definitely made a wise decision to "do" Camden properly. Thank you for sharing!

    • by Vicky on July 25, 2012  1:05 pm Reply

      There are so many amazing houses round there aren't there? Would really love to live there. Ooo, love Primrose Hill - I went last night and everyone was picnicking and watching the fitties work out as we pigged out. Love Camden!

  5. by Brendan @worldwanders on September 26, 2012  8:45 am Reply

    Beautiful! Definately love the views from primrose Hill - can't wait to do a spring/summer picnic there.

    • by Vicky on September 28, 2012  1:38 pm Reply

      Thanks Brendan, me too. Definitely a favourite picnic spot for me!

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