London: A unique Camden walking tour with “This Charming Man”

London: A unique Camden walking tour with “This Charming Man”

Once upon a time, I liked to think of myself as a bit rock n roll. Not too crazy but I had a few qualifying experiences that made me think I had some rocking cred. A child of the 80s, I was into the Clash and Stone Roses rather than Madonna or Simple Minds. My favourite band was the Smiths.

When I first moved to London in the 1990s one of the first places I went to was Camden, the unofficial home of indie rock in London. Camden was where all the bands I liked played. I also liked to “look the part” so made regular visits to the market for my grungey 90s outfits. I spent a lot of time in Camden.

I had not been back to explore that area for years so was delighted to be invited on an Unseen walking tour with Visit.org.

Camden, London

camden lock market

From humble industrial origins, Camden Town became a hot tourist destination thanks to the ever-growing Camden Lock market and indie rock culture. Tourists flock to the area for the street food stalls and independent clothes shops that sprawl along the lock near Camden High Street. When the market first started in 1974 there were only 16 stalls. Today there are over 1,000.

The area is found to the north of King’s Cross and Euston and is in the heart of the London Borough of Camden. The neighbouring enclave of Primrose Hill is home to a wealthy bohemian collective of rock stars, actors and artists. We explored these contrasting areas on our tour.

Highlights of the Camden walking tour

unseen camden walking tour

I quickly discovered our guide Mike had more rock n roll in his little finger than I had managed to acquire over my lifetime. Mike is one of several tour guides hired by Unseen Tours, a not for profit providing paid work to vulnerably housed individuals. Mike’s unique story is challenging, inspiring and integral to the tour. Having spent most of his life living in and around Camden, he has unique perspectives on the area and London.

Discover the haunts of your favourite indie rock stars

Roundhouse - Camden nightlife

The Roundhouse (pictured above) was the venue of Pink Floyd’s first gig but sometimes it is the most unassuming places that are the local hangouts of rock and roll icons.

We saw Oasis’ Gallagher brothers favourite local pub and where Amy Winehouse liked to grab a late night kebab.  The kebab shop is iconic because it has hosted jam sessions by some of music’s finest including The Jam’s Paul Weller.

Related  Beyond the spray can: A street art tour of East London

Amazing views from Primrose Hill

view of London from primrose hill

Even on a grey and bleak winter’s day you can’t help but be amazed by the scene of London sprawling before your eyes from Primrose Hill. Famous landmarks dot the skyline, one which is changing rapidly with increased development.

The colourful enclave of Primrose Hill

coloured houses in primrose hill

The colourful houses of Primrose Hill are the home to many of recognisable actors, musicians and playwrights. Primrose Hill is steeped in history and I loved learning how it evolved and how Mike viewed the contrasts with neighbouring Camden Town.

A stroll along Regent’s Canal to Camden Lock

regents canal london

Though I had taken several boat rides down Regent’s canal, I first walked the towpath on our tour. We heard about the history of the canals and the importance of some of the landmarks along the way. Peeking into the windows of the colourful longboats moored along the banks of the canal proved to be a temptation I could not resist.

Related  10 reasons to hire a local tour guide and take a tour on your travels

Mike’s story

unseen tours walk in camden

My favourite part of the tour was learning about Mike’s life and hearing his stories about living in Camden and Primrose Hill over his eventful lifetime. As with most local tours, the calibre of the guide is the difference between an average experience and an awesome one.  Mike is a truly engaging guide with many personal stories and anecdotes to share. We were a small group but I have no doubt that he holds the attention of the larger groups he usually leads on these tours.

camden walking tour contrasts

Mike is passionate about Camden’s indie music scene and has some great tales of his encounters with rock stars, actors and musicians over the years. It would be a shame to spoil those stories as Mike tells them so much better but I was in awe of his on-stage appearance with the Smiths back in their early days. I can just see him giving Morrissey a run for his money during their seminal hit “This Charming Man”.

Camden walking tour information

camden lock

Our tour lasted around 2 hours and took in sights around Camden, Primrose Hill and Regent’s Canal. Tours run at 2pm on Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday by appointment. The cost of the tour is £12.  Book an Unseen Camden walking tour


About Unseen Tours


Unseen Tours is a not for profit initiative helping homeless and formerly homeless people become tour guides in their local area and assisting them to rebuild their lives. Guides receive 60% of the ticket revenue with the remaining funds allocated to essential operational costs. Other staff work on a volunteer basis and any profits made are reinvested into the business.


About Visit.Org


Visit.org is a platform to discover curated travel experiences offered by nonprofits around the world. Travellers can use Visit.org to find short immersive experiences to add their itinerary. Revenues generated by tours and experiences offered on the platform are channelled back to the local community through the host organisations.

Untold Morsels is proud to be part of Visit.org’s ambassador community.


Disclaimer – This was a complimentary tour as part of my role as Brand Ambassador for Visit.org. As always all opinions and views are my own. This post also includes affiliate links – for more information on our affiliate policy please visit our disclosures page.


London: Camden and Primrose Hill walking tour with Unseen tours and Visit.org

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London: Camden and Primrose Hill walking tour with Unseen tours and Visit.org
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52 Comments

  1. Ellie Cleary
    1st March 2017 / 1:49 PM

    I think you’ve perfectly captured the essence of the tour Katy, great read. Even as a Londoner born and bred I love going on this sort of tour/activity once in a while as there are so many parts of this city that I know too little about! Mike’s story was very moving and inspiring, and it felt great being able to use a company who genuinely want to improve the lives of those that work for them. Ellie

    • 1st March 2017 / 8:34 PM

      Thanks Ellie. I agree, in these challenging times it was so great to learn about an organisation committed to helping people. I also learnt a lot about London

  2. 2nd March 2017 / 7:50 AM

    interesting tour! and for a good cause!:)

  3. 2nd March 2017 / 8:16 AM

    I love walking tours! Never heard of the Camden one – something else for our London bucket list – we seem to check off more now we don’t live there #farawayfiles

  4. 2nd March 2017 / 8:41 AM

    What a great way to experience Camden! And what an great organization helping the homeless to get back on their feet and show you around the town! #FarawayFiles

  5. 2nd March 2017 / 8:52 AM

    Love this Katy. Love the idea of giving back a little while learning new perspectives! I can not believe that I have never been to Camden… unfortunately was on crutches our first visit when friends were headed that direction and it all felt a bit daunting! A must visit for my London return! Cheers, Erin #FarawayFiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:46 AM

      I think Camden would be one of your London happy places Erin. Actually I am sure of it and the kids would love it too. Next time!

  6. 2nd March 2017 / 10:20 AM

    I am adding this tour to my list of things to do on my summer UK trip! #farawayfiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:41 AM

      Great! It was such a fun afternoon Tiffany

  7. 2nd March 2017 / 10:49 AM

    Love the sound of this tour! I’m really hoping to make it back to London sometime this spring/summer and I’m definitely going to have to take this tour if I have the time. #FarawayFiles

  8. 2nd March 2017 / 12:00 PM

    This sounds like a great tour. Would love to see and hear about some of these rock and roll stories. I hadn’t heard of visit.org before and have bookmarked it to remind myself to look for others. Thanks.

  9. 2nd March 2017 / 12:24 PM

    What a great tour and a fantastic idea behind it, will be checking out the website #FarawayFiles

  10. 2nd March 2017 / 12:44 PM

    This sounds like a fascinating tour. #FarawayFiles

  11. 2nd March 2017 / 12:51 PM

    Camden is incredible and your post has reminded me just how long it’s been since I visited! I have happy memories of the place. These tours sound the best (as does Mike!) #FarawayFiles

    • 2nd March 2017 / 12:57 PM

      Thanks Nell. Mike is a legend. He fell upon tough times but is using his incredible story telling abilities to make a better life for himself. Inspiring

  12. Clare Thomson
    2nd March 2017 / 2:05 PM

    Sounds like a great tour. Camden is such a fascinating place – I’ve spent some good times there, both at the fabulous market and the chi-chi Primrose Hill. It would be great to do a tour with a local. #farawayfiles

  13. 2nd March 2017 / 2:30 PM

    What a brilliant idea! Visit.org sound like an amazing organisation. How better to see an area than with a local guide who has so many experiences to share #farawayflies

  14. tracystravels10
    2nd March 2017 / 5:17 PM

    Sounds like a great tour – much prefer local guides! will check out next time i am in London!

  15. 2nd March 2017 / 5:27 PM

    That’s a tour right up my alley! I love to hear from locals and getting a glimpse into UK rock n roll history makes it even more perfect 🙂

  16. 2nd March 2017 / 5:41 PM

    I loved going to Camden Market and just strolling around. I also liked to think of myself as a bit indie rock back in the day. It was so great to see your photos, totally took me back! #farawayfiles

  17. Wherejogoes
    2nd March 2017 / 6:53 PM

    What a great way to discover the neighbourhood and support a local non for profit at the same time. I hadn’t heard of visit.org but am going to look them up for future travels. Thanks for sharing and thanks for hosting #farawayfiles

  18. 2nd March 2017 / 9:56 PM

    How cool is this! I too was a Smith’s fan back in my younger days, and I’m sure I would also be a fan of this fun and quirky tour! We explored Camden this past summer and it’s definitely a neighborhood worth seeing more of! #farawayfiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:40 AM

      Hilary we have a lot in common! I could not stop grinning when Mike was telling us how he got on stage with Morrissey. Loved it

  19. 3rd March 2017 / 1:35 AM

    I like everything about this tour and the area. I was never a rock n’ roll fan (my mom didn’t let us hear that music) but that is exactly the music my husband grew up with. So, I started to appreciate the song and lyrics after we married. I think he will like to do a tour like this. He hears a lot of British and Scottish rock. #FarawayFiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:39 AM

      Thanks Ruth, as a fan of that music I was chuckling and nodding my head to Mike’s stories of his encounters with the stars on the tour. He was a most engaging guide

  20. 3rd March 2017 / 2:35 AM

    I agree that the guide makes all the difference to such walking tours! I’ve never been into Rock ‘n Roll, but this does sound like a great way to learn about the city. #FarawayFiles

  21. 3rd March 2017 / 4:51 AM

    I love the idea behind Unseen Tours – what a great way to help people out. Sounds like such a unique tour and interesting way to spend the afternoon. And Mike sounds like a character. #farawayfiles

  22. 3rd March 2017 / 7:19 AM

    This is my kind of tour. I know the area around Camden Town reasonably well but listening to ‘inside information’ can really bring the place to life. I’m off to have a look at the other Unseen Tours on offer! #farawayfiles

  23. 3rd March 2017 / 10:19 AM

    Great tour and a fantastic initiative behind it! I’d love to do a walking tour, sounds like a great way to learn more about London. #FarawayFiles

  24. 3rd March 2017 / 12:22 PM

    Great tour, and it sounds like your “charming man” made it all the more interesting. I visited Camden Market a number of times when living in London, but I’m sure it’s grown a lot bigger since. Never to Primrose Hill though, pity. I’ll definitely look up Visit.org for future tours, what a great initiative! x
    #FarawayFiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:35 AM

      Thank you. Yes Mike was a wonderful guide and had some pretty crazy stories to tell. Visit.org have tours all over the world and I’m very much a proud supporter

  25. 3rd March 2017 / 12:26 PM

    All my favourite part of London are included in this tour. I’ll definitely be looking into this #FarawayFiles

  26. 3rd March 2017 / 12:52 PM

    I love the sound of visit.org and well done for being an Ambassador. I used to go to Camden Lock every time I went to London as a teenager and haven’t been back since! I’d love to try out this tour. Pinning for future reference. #Farawayfiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:34 AM

      Maybe we should go hang out there together one day! Camden rocks 🙂

  27. 3rd March 2017 / 2:06 PM

    What a great tour! I love Camden, though I’ve mostly spent my time there wandering on my own, but a tour would be really interesting. That’s a great initiative as well, and I’m definitely looking into it next time I’m in London. #farawayfiles

  28. 4th March 2017 / 1:39 PM

    I love it that the tour company is a non-profit, providing work to homeless and formerly homeless. Thank you for sharing this intriguing, walking tour.

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:33 AM

      Thanks Ahila. Visit.org seeks out tours run by not for profits and markets them to a broader audience. It’s a great initiative that I am proud to support

  29. 4th March 2017 / 7:52 PM

    This sounds like an awesome experience! I visited London a few years back but didn’t get the chance to visit Camden – now I want to go back and experience it!

    • 4th March 2017 / 10:21 PM

      Camden is so much fun Courtney. If you visit in summer they even have a (faux) beach!

  30. 4th March 2017 / 11:34 PM

    I love Camden, all the crazy shop are my favorite! I’ve only ever wandered around it though, the walking tour sounds awesome though, it would be cool to get a little history and info.

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:36 AM

      My favourite is the Cereal Killer cafe where you can try 100s of different breakfast cereals. Crazy!

  31. 6th March 2017 / 1:20 PM

    I recognised The Roundhouse from a program I saw on TV last week – it was Andrew Zimmerman and his chef friend touring food places in Camden 🙂 I like this social enterprise concept to work with the homeless and vulnerably housed Londoners. It’s wonderful to have them work as tour guides or at least to have them engage in more productive and rewarding activities. #farawayfiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:28 AM

      Kat, Mike’s story was an eye-opener. He is very proud and had worked all his life in a corporate job before he fell upon difficult times. His insight into Camden was priceless and a lot of fun

  32. 6th March 2017 / 7:05 PM

    How amazing to get such a passionate local’s perspective of Camden and the music scene there over the years. It’s such an iconic part of London, and one that I frequently visited when I was living in the city. #FarawayFiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 9:25 AM

      Mike is really a character with a lot of interesting stories to tell. The tales are what makes the tour special as does the fabulous backdrop of Camden and Primrose Hill

  33. 7th March 2017 / 8:26 AM

    This looks like a fascinating tour. Funnily enough, most of the big tourist attractions of central London don’t interest me in the slightest, but the Camden / Primrose Hill area seems culturally intriguing. Thanks for the inspiration! Again… 😉 #FarawayFiles

    • 7th March 2017 / 8:38 AM

      Thanks Jonny. I think we have a similar approach to big cities and travel. These days I really want to seek out the stories and history of places I visit. There are plenty of those to be found in London 😊

  34. 7th March 2017 / 5:31 PM

    I’ve heard so much of these tour companies from al over. I know of one in Edinburgh that I would like to try out. I’ve only ever read good things about them 🙂

  35. 10th March 2017 / 7:21 AM

    Found your site a little while ago. We will be going to London next month and I think we might book a walking tour. We’ve been to London already a couple of times and this time we plan to do the less touristy things. Thanks for the info. Also on the other destinations. Lots of inspiration. Even about my hometown, Amsterdam😊

    • 10th March 2017 / 10:25 AM

      hi Silvia, thank you so much for your lovely comment. You made my day! Feel free to email me if you want some advice about London. I haven’t written about it yet but the Columbia Road flower market is fun on Sundays

      • 14th March 2017 / 8:49 PM

        Thank you, Katy. Just read your suggestions about Greenwich. We will be going there for sure in April. Since we arrive on Monday the Columbia Road Flower Market won’t be an option.

  36. Kati – Mystery Of Iran
    8th April 2017 / 12:31 PM

    Thank you for your interesting article and colorful photos!

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