10 Downing Street, Bloomsbury Group, Execution Dock, Foundlings, Great Ormond Street, Hampstead Heath, Houes of Parliament, Les miserables locations, Lord Nelson, Old Royal Naval College, Painted Ceiling, Painted Hall, Peace Park, Pirates, Prime Meridian, Royal Observatory, Shelleys, Trafalgar Square, Turner's Wapping, Westminster Abbey
Here are 5 walks in beautiful, leafy parts of London.
Bloomsbury Walk: You see the pretty squares where the Bloomsbury Set lived, loved and worked, and also see places relating to other literatati such as the Shelleys. And you see Dickens’ Bloomsbury and hear of his philanthropy in the area. There is also lovely old architecture and beautiful gardens in two of London’s main legal areas. There are also several of London’s other most interesting squares and gardens including ‘Peace Park’ which remembers people of great principle including Gandhi, and a great little off the beaten track square which wouldn’t look out of place in Paris. You also see a fascinating but easily missed piece of contemporary art and we also see the historic area renowned for the Foundlings and Great Ormond Street hospitals.
High, Healthy Hampstead Walk: You start by seeing a rare early 18th century fire plaque and some fine Georgian architecture en-route to Hampstead’s historic churchyard full of the graves of the famous. Then it’s a fine old watch house before we’re walking past the highest point in London, before entering a ‘healthy’ area of old hospital, workhouse turned infirmary and public bathing pond on Hampstead Heath. You also see a tiny ancient jail, cute old fountains and cottages, and lots of plaques to well known people who worked and lived here. And throughout you’re walking through lovely leafy lanes full of charming old architecture as well as strolling on the Heath. You finish with an amazing view of London.
Secret Westminster Walk: If you follow the usual tourist route of Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, the sights are great, but you’ll see them alongside huge numbers of others, and there won’t be any surprises. This walk shows all those sights but avoids the crowds as you are shown famous places from more interesting, unusual angles such as the back rather than front of 10 Downing Street, which shows how an apparent terraced house appears so large inside. And you’ll see countless interesting historic places, some of which are hidden down little nooks and crannies, just yards from where thousands walk by daily without ever knowing they’re there. And you’ll see a more literally secret Westminster, where hush hush mystery buildings and tunnels are hidden away. What is Q? Why did it cost so much? Why is an apparently empty building surrounded by security cameras? What’s that strange ugly building on the edge of Horseguards Parade (see above photo)? You get the answers.
Wapping is one of the most charming, old and historically interesting places in London to walk around, yet is rather off the beaten walking tour track. You start start at the viewpoint of JMW Turner’s Fighting Temeraire, and hear the story behind the great painting. You see Old Wapping village complete with very early schools, charmingly restored Victorian warehouses, old dock basins, an intriguing old graveyard, some of the oldest pubs in London and the infamous Execution Dock, where pirates were hanged at the low water mark of the river. These all give a wonderfully evocative feel of Old Wapping, plus you see early photographs of the area to further enhance the atmosphere. You also see the pub that claims to have once been owned by Turner, as well as seeing where his actual pub really stood.
Historic Greenwich Walk: You see what is considered the second greatest painted ceiling in the world and other spectacular historic buildings such as the Old Royal Naval College. Naval history is to the fore here, including where Nelson was laid in state before his funeral. There are wonderful views of the whole of London once you’ve walked through a lovely park en-route to the Prime Meridian and Royal Observatory. There’s also plenty of Tudor history here. This was Henry V111’s and Elizabeth’s 1’s favourite country residence. There’s also an historic house which is one of the most haunted places in Britain. Greenwich was also an Olympics site and you’ll hear how it managed the event. And if you’re a film fan you’ll be seeing places that may seem familiar, as these wonderful old buildings are often used for filming anything set in days gone by, such as Les Miserables.