Walking London

There are scores of interesting themed walks in London and, if you prefer to do them in your own time and at your own pace, you can download free guides at London-footprints.co.uk.

Each one is a three-page document, including an introduction, your route, points of interest and background information, but no map or illustrations. My wife and I chose the Inns of Court walk as neither of us had previously explored these fascinating areas in the heart of London.

You might prefer an audio guide and there are websites offering podcasts to play on your MP3 player as you walk the route. Take a look at the free ones on offer from London Walks.

I recommend a little background reading before you set out, and take a guide book with you, so you can fully appreciate the significance of the sights en route. You might try your local public library first. I would also take a detailed map as some of the printed directions are not quite as explicit as some of us would like.

This particular walk was rich in history, with cameos from such celebrated characters as Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare, John Donne, Samuel Pepys, Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. It was easy to forget the 21st century for a moment, surrounded as we were by ancient buildings and secluded courtyards amid acres of greenery.

We spent the best part of three hours on this walk, with lots of minor diversions, distractions and photo opportunities. We enjoyed our picnic lunch in a quiet garden and passed a good selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants, so there were plenty of options for refreshment.

I won’t tell you all the details here as it is much better to discover them for yourself, but I will share with you one architectural curiosity that caught my eye  (below).

The Head Gardener's hut, Lincoln's Inn Field

The Head Gardener's hut, Lincoln's Inn Field

This must be Sir George Gilbert Scott’s smallest commission, but you can still recognise the style of the prolific Victorian architect of the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras and the Albert Memorial. (Photo courtesy of my wife.)

So if you have always fancied the idea of a guided walk in London, but the times are inconvenient, or if you are a dawdler who likes to linger while the rest of the group races on, get your own guide and get going.

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One Response to Walking London

  1. Given the unimaginative choice of plants at the Lincoln’s Inn Field gardener’s hut and their drab appearance, I wonder whether architect Scott might wonder why he put so much effort into so small a structure.

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