I love visiting London. Which may sound a bit strange coming from a countryside and hiking loving outdoorsy person like me, but I really do enjoy a short break in the big smoke – it’s such a great place to visit and explore. As long as I have a hotel room with a decent shower to get rid of the grime of the place after a day out, of course!
Exploring London. Monument.
One of our favourite ways to spend a couple of hours when in London is to join one of the guides from London Walks for a walking tour. Each walk takes you around an area of London, pointing out interesting places and telling stories on a given theme.
Yes, you can wander on your own, follow your own route on a map, find a walk described online and follow that, or get a guide book. But honestly, there is nothing better than one of these tours. The guides are so knowledgeable, they’ve done all the research and know all the stories by heart. They’ll take you down alleyways, into courtyards and under bridges you’d never see on your own, point out things you’d certainly have missed, and, most importantly for me, tell you the stories from history and the modern day that bring the real and hidden London to life.
Rooftops and Monument.
This time around we did two walks, Legal and Illegal London and Secrets and Splendours of St Paul’s. We’ve probably done 20 or more of these walks over the years, and there are still more that we haven’t done and plenty we’d happily do again. I’ve never not enjoyed one and feel they are worth every penny of the £10 each cost – it’s a wonder they’ve not featured here on Splodz Blogz before now!
To give you an idea, the Legal and Illegal London we did on Monday afternoon (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from Holborn Tube) with Shaughan, explores the Inns of Court in the heart of London. We strolled through public and private gardens, courtyards and passageways discovering all kinds of things about the home of the wigged and gowned English barrister. Stories of ancient rites and customs, high drama, colourful characters, and matters of life and death amid delightful surroundings. We ended up outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, which is open to the public (free) so you can head inside to see today’s new stories unfold in the courtrooms if you wish.
St Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge.
Next time you’re in London you should absolutely get yourself on one of these guided walks – make time for one, you won’t regret it. If you’ve never done one of the London Walks before now, I’d recommend starting with Somewhere Else London (Tuesdays at 2pm from Embankment) or Hidden London (Mondays and Fridays at 11am from Monument), both providing hidden nooks and crannies and some fabulous storytelling. For a full list of walks by day and date, head over to www.walks.com, or grab a leaflet from any guide at the start of their walk.
Under Blackfriars Bridge.
To go on a London Walk, meet your guide on the pavement just outside the designated London Underground station at the given time. They’ll be holding up copies of the London Walks leaflet and will likely have a crowd around them. Each walk costs £10 for adults (or £8 for “super adults”) and lasts around two hours – well worth it. They take place whatever the weather, and always end close to a Tube stop. I’ve been on tours with big groups and small, it just depends on the day.