Islington is an area that lies north of the City and is gaining a solid following, rising property prices, and a sense of community. This Islington walk commences in Angel, through the Canonbury estate, passing the 16th-century Canonbury Tower and ending in Highbury Fields.
Travel Essentials – Islington walk
Directions | Duration | Distance | Difficulty
Start point: Angel underground station – Zone 1. Northern line.
Finish point: Drayton Park railway station.
Map: TfL Tube Map.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Distance: 5km (3.1 mile).
Notes: A leisurely route with several points of interest.
Quick facts about Islington
- One of London’s most expensive boroughs.
- Average property prices in excess of £700,000.
- Angel tube station has Europe’s third longest escalator, reaching 60m (196.8ft).
- Home to more than 365 restaurants.
- The first London borough to receive fresh water.
- Arsenal Football Club has been situated in Islington for over 100 years.
Islington walk – Points of Interest
- Angel Road junction.
- Antiques Market.
- Duncan Terrace.
- The New River.
- Canonbury Estate.
- Highbury Fields.
1. Angel Road junction
Turn left, leaving Angel underground station, and then first right onto Pentonville Road. This junction was the starting point of The Great North Road, the main coaching route and road from London to Scotland via York. Traditionally, Islington was a well-renowned area for dairy, supplying much of London’s milk.
Walking along Islington High Street, which is usually busy, veer right into Upper Street, one of Islington’s main streets with many shops and restaurants. Many of the pubs are meeting places for fans of Arsenal Football Club en route to the Emirates Stadium.
2. Antiques Market
Islington High Street leads to Upper Street and Camden Passage from the heart of Islington Antiques Market. It consists of independent eateries, trendy shops, and outdoor stalls. Although it is called Camden Passage, it is not in Camden Town.
3. Duncan Terrace
On reaching The Breakfast Club, turn right into Charlton Place, with houses from the 1790s. At the end, take a left into Duncan Terrace, named after Admiral Duncan. The New River originally ran between this and the opposite terrace, Colebrooke Row.
At the end of Duncan Terrace on the left, tucked behind a tree, is the former home of Charles Lamb, the East Indian Company clerical officer.
Continue past Bridal Mews, following Colebrooke Row and on to Essex Road. Turn right here and walk to The Kings Pub. Next to the pub is St. Mary’s Path, leading to St. Mary’s, the parish church of Islington.
Walk through the gardens and into Dagmar Terrace. On the left is The Little Angel Theatre, a small 100-seat theatre for puppet shows and plays founded in 1961 by John Wright, a master puppeteer. Puppets are made in the workshops next door. Walk under the archway and turn right into Cross Street, and then the next left into Halton Cross Street.
4. The New River
Turn left into Astey’s Row before descending the steps, as this is the course of the New River. Despite the name, it is neither a river nor new, but a water supply aqueduct. Completed in 1613, at three metres wide and a depth of one foot, it brought water from Hertfordshire to North London on a 28-mile journey.
Here is Asteys Row Rock Garden, which was re-opened and landscaped in 2003. Take the path through the gardens until the end, reaching Astey’s Row playground area. To the left is a former 1930s laboratory, a distinctive looking building that catches the eye, which provides office space for 80 Greenpeace staff.
5. Canonbury Grove
At Canonbury Road, with the Myddleton Arms directly opposite, walk across the zebra crossing and into Canonbury Grove. The gardens here are better than those at Astey’s Row, as water runs through the duck ponds. Pass the 18th-century hut used by a watchman whose job was to prevent bathing and fishing.
6. Canonbury Place and Canonbury Square
Opposite Canonbury Grove is The Marquess Tavern, is a striking Victorian gastropub, where the novelist George Orwell often drank. Take a left crossing Willow Bridge and into Willow Bridge Road, then turn left into Canonbury Place, walking past The Canonbury Tavern.
The large building on the left is Canonbury Tower, an important local landmark for many centuries, and it is the oldest building in Islington. This 66m (216ft) tall Grade II-listed, built in the early 1500s was the former residence of the Engligh philosopher Sir Francis Bacon.
Follow the path through the serene Canonbury Square, exiting the gate at the opposite end. On the corner is number 48, a fine example of Georgian architecture. To the left is the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, housed in a similar-looking building. It displays 20th-century Italian art, from futurist to figurative works.
Continue along Canonbury Lane and take the second right into Compton Terrace. Pass through the gate to enter Compton Terrace Garden and follow the path to the end. A large Gothic building, Union Chapel, a Grade I-listed church, music venue, and homeless centre is on the right. With the chapel on the right, walk down the steps and cross over the busy traffic junction of Highbury Corner. Highbury and Islington underground station is on the left.
7. Highbury Fields
Directly opposite is Highbury Place and on the left is the expanse of Highbury Fields. It is Islington’s largest park at 29 acres and includes a children’s playground, a café, tarmac tennis courts and a war memorial.
Three exquisite terraces line the park perimeter, Highbury Place, Highbury Crescent and Highbury Terrace. At number 1 Highbury Place lived Walter Sickert, the impressionist painter, and number 30 was the home of Joseph Chamberlain, father of former UK prime minister Neville Chamberlain.
During the Great Fire of London in 1666, roughly 200,000 people gathered here with their salvaged belongings. Walk along Highbury Place and cut across the park at Highbury Crescent and right into Highbury Terrace. Continue past the tennis courts on the right into Framfield Road.
From the top of Framfield Road, it is possible to see across to Hampstead Heath and beyond. At the end of the road, walk through the alley into Whistler Street, take a right, follow the road into Drayton Park, and head to the station where the walk ends.
Once a run-down part of London, Islington is continually growing in popularity. It is one of most restaurant-dense areas in the UK with new ones constantly popping up. It is easy to understand why people gravitate here with a range of small boutiques, gluten-free bakeries, large open spaces, affluent residents, and good transport links. However, decadence comes at a premium.
The price of properties, augmented by several five-storey finessed Victorian townhouses, averages £700,000. Just off the main roads, rows of beautiful terraced houses line well-manicured squares, bringing a calm and tranquil feel to an otherwise busy yet vibrant part of London.
Cabin Bags Only rating: 7.5/10
Read about our other walks.
TimeOut – Islington area guide.