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Crouch End is a mysterious little corner of the capital. There is no Tube line connecting it with the rest of London and the locals want it to stay that way.
While many Londoners have heard of Crouch End, most have no idea where it actually is and imagine it’s so far away they would never consider going there. Of those who have discovered it, they’re generally hooked and feel a certain sense of smugness of being “in the know,” as though they’ve stumbled upon a very well kept secret.
Three roads converge
Crouch End’s heart is marked by the Clock Tower, where three different roads meet, each one lined with shops, restaurants, bars and an unusually high number of hairdressers. It’s a great place to head on a lazy weekend morning for delicious brunch at Banners, The Haberdashery, Monkey Nuts or Sable D’or, but the best time to go is undoubtedly for the monthly Crouch End Barboot.
A night of Cheapo shopping and strolling
Held on the first Friday of every month from 7:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Crouch End’s unique “Barboot” is an evening when the shops stay open late and a general feeling of merriment fills the air. The good news for Cheapos is that it’s totally free to browse and there are lots of market stalls set up within larger shops, making it a great time to bag some bargains and pick up some unusual souvenirs.
A lot of the action centers around The Haberdashery, the quirky vintage-style cafe where the idea of the Barboot was dreamed up. You can sip on cocktails served in teacups, enjoy free live music and sometimes dancing, and browse vintage clothing and art and craft stands from local artists. (22 Middle Lane, Crouch End, N8 8PL)
Then head on down to Park Road, where a whole host of shops are getting in on the act. Fabulous furniture store, Of Special Interest is another favorite of mine and well worth a look.
A friendly little village
The really nice thing about the Barboot is that it’s a proper community effort with shopkeepers joining together to make something truly different for the locals. While some months are busier than others, the atmosphere is always great and it feels more like being transported to a friendly little village than spending a night out in London.
And don’t be fooled by the common misconception that it’s impossible to get to Crouch End. It may not be the world’s most accessible place, but that’s half its charm. You can catch the W7 or W3 bus from Finsbury Park tube station or even take the 91 bus all the way from Trafalgar Square.