London Drum

Camden Town – Street Markets & Camden Lock

Camden Town
Where? Camden Town, Camden Opening times? Camden Market: 10 AM to late (Mon-Sun) Visiting hours may change Time required? A typical visit is 2 hours Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 24, 27, 29, 31, 46, 88, 134, 168, 214, 253, 274, C2 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Camden Town Northern Other nearby stations: Mornington Crescent Train fares

Craig’s review… I’m getting too old for Camden. Ideally you have to be under thirty and come here for the pubs and clubs and music, and cheapo markets.

There are three types of student in the world. The first type are the quiet ones, who sit at pine tables tapping out essays and letters into their laptop computers, next to a takeaway tub of nuts and salad. The second type walk around with bright blue hair and a steel bar through their nose, impatiently waiting for any kind of trouble to break out, with which they can show some solidarity (it doesn’t matter what it is – as long as they can shout at someone). And the third type are the wasters, the drinkers – the happiest ones – who spend their days doing nothing worth remembering, so have nothing to forget.

You can see all three of these types in Camden. They live here for a few years before swapping their university clothes for a smart suit and shiny pair of shoes. As soon as they don the uniform of an adult they have to move out of town, and they’re only allowed back in as day-trippers and tourists.

I’m sitting here watching a middle-aged fella desperately trying to delay his age by sporting a ponytail and a pork pie hat. He’s the kind of guy who splashes aftershave on his designer stubble and then spends five minutes struggling to make a roll-up when he’d much rather have a cigarette.

Camden High Street

I will say this, though… Camden has got some of the craziest shop fronts in London. Have a walk down Camden High Street and you’ll see huge shoes the size of rowing boats nailed to the roof. I can see scorpions and dragons and fifty-foot snakes, big yellow elephant heads, and a giant lady wrapped around in leather. One of the shops has got an airplane out the front (not a picture of a plane – a twenty foot long model of one). It reminds me of the seaside – one of those beachfront promenades selling buckets and spades and tacky tat to the tourists. It’s all cheap T-shirts and Union Jack ashtrays, 99p umbrellas and mirrored sunglasses.

Every shop seems to be selling beanie hats and clip-on cases for your mobile phone. If you want to buy a cigarette lighter with a marijuana leaf on it, then this is the place. If you want to buy one of those colourful bongs which look like a broken set of bagpipes, then come to Camden. Get your Bob Marley t-shirts! Get your ‘I Love London’ shorts and shirts! Get your postcard of the Pope smoking dope!

Regent’s Canal and Camden Lock

It gets better when you reach the lock because there are plenty of pavement cafes and posh pubs to have a sit-down. It’s very nice around there when it’s sunny, but if you make the mistake of coming at 8 AM on a cold January morning (like I did today) then bring a pair of gloves with you for chrissakes because it’s almost too cold to write anything down. My jaw has started aching from my chattering teeth. The ducks are dipping their webbed feet in the water before they get in, to check its temperature. The frozen leaves are hanging off the trees like crystal droplets on a chandelier.

The lock gates look nice from fifty feet away, but if you take a closer look then you’ll see a rubbish dump of litter floating up behind. I can see a sea of tin cans and beer bottles, paper plates and polystyrene kebab cartons, two deflated old footballs and a chopped up forest of sticks and twigs and builder’s planks. Don’t let that put you off, though, because it’s probably just too early in the morning for them to have emptied it (it’s 8 AM). As soon as they open it up for a boat it will all flush away like a toilet.

Camden Lock Market & Stables Market

Every guidebook ever written recommends Camden Market, but they rarely tell you that there’s more than one. Lots of tourists will then step straight off the tube and end up in the tacky one down Camden High Street and wonder what all the fuss is about. So here is my advice: ignore that one and find Camden Lock Market instead (by the lock), and especially Stables Market down Chalk Farm Road. Stables Market is the real beauty, because it’s nestled amongst the railway arches.

Worth a visit? Value for money? n/aGood for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… . Instead of catching the tube to Camden, how about riding Jason’s canal boat up the Regent’s Canal? If you’re only interested in the stalls then try Jubilee Market in Covent Garden

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

Your comments and questions

Emran What tube station is stables market? After get off the tube station, how to get to the stables market? Thank you.

Craig Hi Emran. If you get off at Camden Town station then walk up Camden High Street, pass under the Camden Lock bridge (the painted one shown in the photo), then a bit further along you'll see the entrance on the left

Stella Camden Market has got a great vibe and I love it! But you have to avoid the whole bit where you just get all the same kind of stalls selling tourist cheapies. Go further up the road away from the tube station and there's some great stalls selling homemade and original items.

M Wright Which train on the underground takes you to Camden Town?

Craig Hi M Wright, you need to get on the northern line to Camden Town station

mag Is camden town safe

Craig Hi Mag. Some people might tell you it's a bit rough, but I think it's safe. You might want to watch out for pickpockets in the busy markets, but you could say the same thing about any crowded place in London

Pete Is the market open every day?

Craig Hi Pete. All of the markets are generally open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM or 6 PM, Monday to Sunday, although some stalls stay open later during busy periods.

Kerry Main Are camden lock market and camden town market one and the same ?

Craig Hi Kerry. I think there are actually six different markets in total but they’re all collectively known as “Camden market”. So Camden Lock market is called Camden market, as are all the other markets (a bit confusing!). The stalls around the lock area concentrate on arts and crafts.

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