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London Walk

Updated on December 2, 2020

Sightseeing walk...

This is a long walk. It's an hour, maybe, at a stroll but really a complete daytrip in itself, if you stop and take advantage of all the great stuff along the way. There are open top double decker tourist buses but I always feel the best way to see an old city, one not designed by the car, is on foot.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
St James Park
St James Park
Regimental flowers
Regimental flowers

Start at Buckingham Palace, the Queen's official London pad. Not the most beautiful palace in the world but palacial none the less. Originally the home of the Duke of Buckingham. Queen Victoria acquired and developed it. You can watch the changing of the guard here.

Now head down the Mall or take the path through St Jame's Park or if you take Bird Cage Walk you might catch a military band on the parade ground in Chelsea Barracks.

Nelson's column - Trafalgar Square
Nelson's column - Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

At the end of the Mall you'll walk under Admiralty Arch and come out into Traflagar Square. Named after the decisive naval battle in which Napoleon's navy was destroyed and Nelson lost his life, the square offers pigeons and lions and a statue of the great Admiral himself looking across the city. On the far side of the square you can visit the National Gallery and nearby is also the Naitonal Portrait gallery. Both are free. You can see Turners and Constables and many other superb artists' works.

Horse Guard
Horse Guard
Downing Street
Downing Street
Downing Street
Downing Street

Whitehall

As you come up from the Mall into Trafalgar Square the entrance to Whitehall is on the right. Here you'll find a straight road with memorials and statues and an array of government buildings. Along the right as you walk towards the Houses of Parliament you'll find Horse Guards Parade, appropriately guarded by a soldier on a horse. He'll be part of the Household Cavalry. The horses are incredibly patient (as are the soldiers) crowded by tourists. A little further up, again on the right you'll find the entrance to an unassuming row of terrace houses blocked by railings and armed police. This is Downing Street, the Prime Minister lives and works at number 10; next door at number 11 is the Chancellor of the Exchequer responsible for the fiscal side of government.

Westminster tube
Westminster tube
Big Ben
Big Ben
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

Westminster

At the end of Whitehall you'll see the Houses of Parliament on the left and in front of you across the green is Westminster Abbey. Inside the Abbey are buried the great and the good, poets, writers, politicians and kings and queens. Next to the abbey there is a smaller church, St Margaret's, which offers a more homely ecclesiastical space and has been traditionally used by MPs.

The clock tower of the Houses of Parliament is one of the great icons of the city. Strictly speaking Big Ben is the name of the bell that strikes the hours.

Now turn left and get yourself to the river. Great cities are made by nature - Rome by defensive hills, Manhattan by its island geography, Paris by the Seine, Rio de Janeiro by beaches and mountains - and London by the Thames leading to the estuary. Cross over by Westminster bridge.

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament
London Eye
London Eye

Westminster Bridge

South of the river - for some north Londoners this is terra incognito; some ingrained race memory of the time south London was just basically one big swamp. Some may say not much has changed since those antediluvian days however, there is one section of south London that's hard to ignore - and well it's close enough to the north bank and within access of bridges to pop over to the north again if it gets all too much.

As you cross over Westminster Bridge you'll see the great ferris wheel - the London Eye. It moves slowly. A ride around takes about a half hour. It stands in front of a large building that used to be the GLC (Greater London Council) nowadays it houses the London Aquarium which has a fantastic display of the world's sea life, a hotel and a MacDonalds.

Take the steps down from the Bridge and get yourself on the riverbank. This is the South Bank.

The South Bank

Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall
Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room - the Hayward Gallery is close by
Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room - the Hayward Gallery is close by

Carbuncle

Prince Charles famously denounced the architecture of the South Bank as a carbuncle. After everyone looked up the word carbuncle to find out what it meant, there was a lot of debate about the architecture and whether or not priviliged people should be able to voice their opinions in the way that Charlie had. Personally, I've had too many good times on the South Bank to want to change the place. Happy emotions have made it beautiful. If you look close you'll find the concrete has been moulded with wood grain!

After walking past the London Eye you'll begin to meet the world of the arts. The Royal Festival Hall, The Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Hayward Gallery, the London Film Museum and the Purcell Room show every kind of art and music; and, tucked under the arches of Waterloo Bridge is the National Film Theatre. There are also second hand book stalls and restaurants. Buskers and other street artists - artists who draw with chalk and those people who dress up and stand very still until you chuck 'em a coin...people have got to a make a living ....oh and there's a beautiful old carousel. A little further on takes you to the National Theatre - there's a drama for everyone here.

National Film Theatre
National Film Theatre
Second hand book stalls
Second hand book stalls
National Theatre darlings!
National Theatre darlings!

As you walk on the river offers great vistas of the city. Another good way to go is by boat - there are moorings along the way where you can catch a river taxi - they offer a humorous commentary of the sights along the way.

If you're hungry there's Gabriel's wharf with a few eating places as well as art and antique shops.

Along the way...

riverview - St Pauls
riverview - St Pauls
Gabriel's Wharf - food and assorted art shops
Gabriel's Wharf - food and assorted art shops

Tate Modern

Further on now you'll come across a large brick building. This used to be an electricity power station. Now it's been converted into the Tate Modern art gallery, housing all your Picassos and assundry modern painters - again this is free for the permanent exhibits. As you enter you'll come into the turbine hall which in itself is an impressive space.

Tate Modern
Tate Modern
the "wobbly bridge" into the city and St Paul's cathedral
the "wobbly bridge" into the city and St Paul's cathedral

The London Millennium Footbridge

 Directly opposite Tate Modern is a newish footbridge which takes you straight to St Paul's cathedral in the City (the financial district). When first opened the bridge had a disconcerting tendancy to wobble and was closed for two years while engineers added weights to counteract this. It's a lovely bridge and no longer moves but is now commonly known as the Wobbly Bridge, in fact I've had to research to discover its proper name - the London Millennium Footbridge.

The Globe

Wanamaker's dream come true
Wanamaker's dream come true
Thatched roof - Shakespeare's reconstructed globe
Thatched roof - Shakespeare's reconstructed globe
The Anchor pub
The Anchor pub

Shakespeare's Globe

The American director Sam Wanamaker had a dream to reconstruct Shakespeare's own theatre - The Globe. He realised his dream and left us with a magnificent place to see the Bard's work in the round. If you buy the cheap tickets you'll be in the middle in front of the stage, at the mercy of the elements and seatless but feeling almost in the action. Be warned if your legs stiffen up quickly you'd best buy a seat! It is a great place to watch the plays.

A little further on you'll probably be in need of refreshment. The Anchor pub is a decent place to stop and on a sunny day, if you're lucky, you can grab a seat on their terrace by the river and watch the world and the tides float by. Inside there's an odd assortment of rooms and staircases -they do traditional pub grub including a Sunday roast in case you managed to resist the delights of Maccy Dee's by the London Eye....

Boats and Boris

replica of the Golden Hind
replica of the Golden Hind
HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast
Boris's office
Boris's office

Boats and Boris

Walking on now under Southwark Bridge and past the Clink Prison Museum you'll come across a replica of the Golden Hind, the ship in which Sir Francis Drake circumnivigated the world whilst stealing Spanish gold stolen from the Incas and also sinking Spanish ships and generally being a nuisance. There are tours of the boat and I believe your little ones can dress up as pirates and have a sleep over on board.

A little further on and more up to date is another boat, this time the genuine article, the HMS Belfast, which served during WWII; you can step on board and tour the galleys and guns and look out from the captain's bridge.

Before you come to Tower Bridge, you'll pass by the home of the Mayor of London set in an open area, its glassy and curvy. Boris is in there busy planning how to improve London.

Tower Bridge and the Tower of London

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
From the middle of Tower Bridge
From the middle of Tower Bridge
Tower of London
Tower of London

End of the road

Finally you'll come to Tower Bridge, if you're very very lucky there might be a tall ship requiring the bridge to be raised - I've never seen it myself but it does happen! There's a museum on the bridge all about its remarkable construction.

The bridge leads you back over to the north side of the Thames (phew!), where you'll find the Tower of London. It was begun around 900 years ago by William the Conqueror and subsequently used as Royalty's number one nick and the final destination of many a poor and many a well heeled soul. If you can pay £20.90 to get inside, you can gaze upon the crown jewels and there's quite an armoury, including Henry VIII's own suit of armour. The place is replete with gore and history.

That's the end of the walk. If your feet are aching there's a tube station on the other side of the tower to take you to wherever you need to go. I'm sure there are a hundred things along the way that I've forgotten to mention but then that's the beauty of walking - making discoveries. Happy walking!

Comments

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    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      8 years ago from England

      Thank-you ;]

    • katyzzz profile image

      katyzzz 

      9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      A most amazing travel tour and the price was just right, great hub, hotspur, how's Shakespeare today. Fantastic hub, well done

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      10 years ago from England

      Thanks again Micky Dee! Hope you're well and have a great Christmas my friend. Cheers!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      10 years ago

      Very nice hotspur! It's great the second time too! God bless!

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      11 years ago from England

      Ah four legs better than two? ;]

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      11 years ago

      Very nice trip! I merely let my mouse do the walking! Thank you Hotspur Dude!

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      11 years ago from England

      Thanks Larry, Clarks eh, very sensible. Hope you get the chance to walk it see. All the best.

    • maven101 profile image

      Larry Conners 

      11 years ago from Northern Arizona

      I'm in rare agreement with Tony...This has been a most enjoyable London excursion, made real with your wonderful and articulate dialogue and the beautiful photos...

      I'm definitely bookmarking this Hub for future reference when I once again visit that vibrant city...My old and comfy Clarks' will welcome the home turf and carry me along this challenging London Walk...Thank you my friend...Larry

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      11 years ago from England

      Thanks for your kind comment Moonlake. I hope you get the chance to visit one day but I know what you mean, there are so many great places to visit. Anyway, for now there's always Google Earth!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      11 years ago from America

      Loved your hub and all your photos. Wish I could visit London would be so much fun.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR

      hotspur 

      11 years ago from England

      Thanks Tony, glad you enjoyed the vicarious walk - less blisters that way....:]

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      London is a truly wonderful place. I think I have walked my shoes bare there! Absolutely wonderful. And you are so right - the best way to see it is on foot.

      Thanks for this wonderful Hub. I loved every minute of the vicarious walk!

      Love and peace

      Tony

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