Summer in London: woodlands, walks, canals, farms, and markets
This story is from BostonGlobe.com, the only place for complete digital access to the Globe.
LONDON — Every summer, London’s tourists will go to the popular haunts of Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben. But the seasoned traveler will find it worthwhile to bypass the main attractions and head to spots known mainly to locals.
The following places will transport you from the typical West End scene to London’s edgier, locals-only East End, where many of the Summer Olympics events are located.
For a few hours spent away from the bustle of crowds, head to Parkland Walk, London’s longest protected nature reserve. This 7.5-mile pathway courses along an old disused Victorian-era railway line. You will come across old brick railway arches, platforms, and a sculpture of a mythical spriggan. Parkland Walk, beloved by runners and dog walkers, was an inspiration for horror writer Stephen King, who named his short story “Crouch End” after a neighborhood adjacent to the walk. Once past Highgate tube station, continue strolling to Highgate Wood, known for its visible medieval boundary lines, constructed as either an enclosure for deer or for defense.
The last stretch will take you to Alexandra Palace. Ally Pally (as it is known to locals) continues its role as the “people’s palace” as a well-known music and arts venue — and for the Olympics, it will be the official residence of the Dutch team. Grab a pint of beer and a meal and enjoy the spectacular views of London, including Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, and Europe’s tallest building, the Shard. www.parkland-walk.org.uk
A newly rediscovered patch for hip locals is the section of the Regent’s Canal between Angel (a district of the city) and Victoria Park. The canal is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Cafes serving organic coffee and light snacks, an artisan chocolate shop, and a bar are all found along this stretch. Watch locals sail the canal in rubber dinghies, canoes, or kayaks, and if you are lucky you will stumble upon the bookstore located on a refurbished houseboat. Watch the signs. You don’t want to miss the stairs that lead to Broadway Market. Regent’s Canal tow-path, between Whitmore Bridge andKingsland Road Bridge
Over the past decade Broadway Market has become a destination for foodies and the city’s most hip and fashionable set. Browse over 100 stalls serving a variety of foods ranging from local fruits and vegetables, British cheese and dairy products, meat and seafood, and many delicacies produced by the area’s thriving ethnic communities. Some of London’s tastiest street food can be found at the market and it is less pricey and touristy than the Southbank’s Borough Market. Take care not to miss the part of the market that spills over onto an adjacent school parking lot, where you will find ready-to-eat Brazilian goodies, organic baked goods, and artisan chocolate. Lining the market are gastropubs, cafes, vintage clothing stores, and independent art galleries. www.broadwaymarket.co.uk
Rooftop Cinema Club is on the rooftop of the Queen of Hoxton arts and music venue. Tourists can watch London classics like “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” or “The Queen” while drinking Pimms, a traditional English gin-based summer liqueur. Arrive early, have a few drinks, and enjoy a barbecue while watching the sun go down over east London and The City, London’s historic financial district. 1-5 Curtain Road, rooftopfilmclub.com, about $16, book well ahead
Traveling with children? Take them to Hackney City Farm, a 20-year-old working farm. There are plenty of animals to occupy youngsters (better than Occupy London) including pigs, donkeys, goats, and sheep. A bimonthly craft fair is held the first Sunday of every other month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as drop-in arts and crafts lessons for children. It’s a good idea to book ahead. 1a Goldsmiths Row, hackneycityfarm.co.uk, free
Bypass the main street or high street as it is known in England, and head to Boxpark Shoreditch, the world’s first pop-up mall. Refurbished shipping containers have been stacked on top of each other and turned into restaurants, cafes, and stores ranging from London-based Irregular Choice shoes to Marimekko classic textiles and home furnishings from Finland. An interesting twist on this locale is that the Hackney borough council gives stores a lease only for a year, so expect businesses to change. 2-4 Bethnal Green Road, www.boxpark.co.uk
For a truly unique and high-end fashion retail experience, try LNCC or the Late Night Chameleon Cafe . First, book an appointment, travel to an unassuming street in east London, find a side door with no storefront attached, and head into the basement. Here, find 6,000 square feet encompassing seven architecturally different concept rooms stocking well-known names such as Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga, and Maison Martin Margiela. Also found among well-known European designers is local talent, mostly representing east London or Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, known for producing some of the best, most cutting-edge designers on the planet. Also for sale are rare books and records. 18 Shacklewell Lane, 011-44-203-174-0727, www.ln-cc.com Continued...