Will you walk the (Cally) walk?

Street scene of Cally with signs for shops and trees lining street

Take a deep dive into the history and culture of the Cally with Footways’ new virtual walking route

Walking is a terrific way to stay healthy and boost mental health – which is why the council has teamed up with Footways to design virtual walking routes around Caledonian Road, mapping out places of natural beauty and intrigue that may be of interest to you the next time you dust off the walking boots.

“The Footways interactive map is a fantastic way to encourage visitors to Caledonian Road to experience the area’s historical sites, vibrant businesses, green spaces and diverse restaurants,” says Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality, and Transport. “Walking is the most enjoyable, efficient and healthiest way to get a real understanding of the rich experiences the Cally has to offer, enabling people to interact more with a bustling local economy that hosts some of London’s oldest trade businesses, as well as supporting the great sense of community.”

The routes, best viewed on a phone while walking, have information on everything from places of historical and architectural interest, to local businesses, natural spaces, cultural spots, and vibrant shopping venues. If you’ve built up an appetite by the end of your walk, the map also pinpoints a variety of vibrant restaurants and cafes, offering a huge range of delicious dishes.

“The Cally is an amazing place with cafes and restaurants from every part of the world: the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and South and South East Asia. There’s also a host of useful, independent shops,” says David Harrison, co-founder of Footways London and chair of Islington Living Streets. “The new Footways Map aims to prompt people to walk to them from all directions along interesting, quiet routes. Follow them from Highbury and Islington, King’s Cross, the Angel and Faringdon and explore the many features the map highlights along the way!”

Caledonian Road, also known as ‘the Cally’, was built in 1826 as a toll road to link the New Road (now the A501) to Holloway Road and provide a link to the West End from north London. It was built during a spurt of major growth in the area that also saw the creation of new canals, railways, cattle markets, heavy industry hubs and housing. The road has maintained its high energy atmosphere, with a flow of tourists, residents, and workers going about daily life.

Key to the Cally’s colourful character is the range of transport hubs surrounding it, including tube, rail, and bus routes. So, if the thighs are a bit wobbly after a mile and a half walk down the Cally, you can always hop on a bus to get home.

Need a bit more encouragement to get your walking game on? Here’s a few highlights, among many, on the virtual map route:

Chapel Market

This old school London market has been going since the 1860s. The second-ever branch of Sains-bury’s opened here in 1882. Favourites include English-Italian caff Casa Fabrizi, where locals crowd for huge plates of pasta.

Edward Square and the Tolpuddle Martyrs

Formerly part of Copenhagen Fields, Edward Square – found just off Regent’s Canal towpath – opened as a public garden in 1888. It features a huge mural, celebrating the 1834 march to support the Tolpuddle Martyrs, who were sentenced to transportation to Australia for forming a trade union.

Edith Garrud plaque

Edith Garrud, the martial artist, suffragette and playwright, lived at 60 Thornhill Square. She was one of the western world’s first female jujutsu teachers and practised ‘suffrajitsu’, the application of martial arts for self-defence used by suffragettes.

Supawan Thai Food

Decorations spill over from the florist next door into this charming, cafe-style Thai restaurant where chef Wichet from Phuket serves up authentic flavours in beautiful surroundings.

The Trident Pottery

Keeping it local

The Cally walking route includes businesses that have been in the area for decades and form a vital part of the local economy. Check out some of the goods and services on offer on the Cally Walk:

Sunflour Bakery: family business and institution in the Cally, offering delicious baked goods and catering services. Owner Paul is chair of the Caledonian Road Traders Association – businesses that would like to join the association should email conor.cusack@islington.gov.uk

Caledonian Pharmacy: independent pharmacy that’s been part of the community for 36 years.

The Trident Pottery: fine ceramics including dishes, plates and teapots.

Islington Glass: glass and mirror specialists for both trade and private customers.

Housmans bookshop: open since 1958, the shop is famous for its progressive politics.

Zac Tailoring: professional and friendly tailoring service at a reasonable price.

Latest Discover Islington blog

Back to Discover Islington blog