From the Rep Walks
 
 Find one photograph to introduce – and sum up – the literally hundreds of London Walks From the Repertory Walks. An image that crystallises the Tour du Jour cornucopia. Surely an impossible task. Or so I thought. But London's an "inventory of the possible". And because it is London Walks has had the great good fortune to cross paths with Jon Block, who's taking photographs that are sui generis. And just so wonderful. This is one of them. And it does what I thought was impossible – until I kept the "inventory of the possible" faith, that is. It introduces – and crystallises – the hundreds of Tour du Jour London Walks. A Special Photograph for Special Walks. It's called The Meeting Place, St. Pancras. And, yes, we do a From the Rep walk there.
 
And on that note, Additional Information Anyone?

User's Directions: This "page" is a two-parter. First, some prefatory, explanatory notes. Further down you get the "blurbs" for lots of our From the Repertory and Special Walks. (Don't know what a From the Rep walk is? – well, click here for a backgrounder pop-up.) What I'm saying is, if you want to go straight to the "blurbs" you have to scroll down past these introductory remarks.The photo of Mike and a group of walkers on a Beachcombing Walk is the "bridge" between the two halves.

We get a ton of requests for "additional information" about the From the Repertory Walks. Haven't been able to meet that request on the leaflet because there's something like 500 different walks in the full London Walks repertory and there's only so much room on a piece of paper and the document already runs to 25,000 words. Well, you'll get my drift...

But cyber-space "bends" space. It's elastic. You can stretch it. So here on the website at any rate we can meet that request. And we're doing so. We got this particular ball rolling just over a year ao. And have made a good start on it – as you'll see if you scroll down. But there's still more to come – so please do be patient – it's going to take a longish while to get the full complement up here. Not least because – as I've already mentioned – there's something like 500 different London Walks. In short, it's not all down to my innate dilatoriness!

And the other thing to stress here is that these entries are very much in the way of "additional information". Each of them is a "blurb" about a given From the Repertory or Special Walk. Initially we were also "inputting" here the dates that any given From the Repertory or Special Walk would take place. We've rethought that "strategy" though – simply because it was so time consuming to stay on top of those dates...putting them in, taking them out when they'd been and gone, etc. etc. And if one got away from us – well, it was problematic, to say the least. Simply because the date referred to may have been from a previous year – a walk that was, well, "history". In short, there was a danger of people getting the wrong end of the stick.
 
So we've simplified. No dates here, just "background information". For the dates of any given From the Repertory or Special Walk you need to go to those sections – they're laid our as "tables", so you can scroll down through them very quickly. And if you find one there that you'd like to know more about – and if there is a "blurb" for it – well, double click on the link and that will take you to the entry here in this section.

Oh and I suppose the other thing to mention here is that any of these From the Repertory or Special Walks can be done as a private walk. So we thought this "set of rooms" on the website might be useful for "group leaders", teachers, etc. who were interested in "further reading" – i.e., finding out more about the full range of the London Walks programme – with a view perhaps to booking one of our more exotic "blooms" for a private walk.

And just one or two other bits and bobs...

John has done a heroic – a sterling (now there's a word that's brilliantly rooted in London history, as those of you who have been on my Along the Thames Pub Walk know) – job of chasing down the guides, shaking some "blurb dust" out of them, and shaping and baking it into tasty and helpful "brownie blurbs".

And I think you'll like the "add-ons" John's come up with. Namely where each of the From the Repertory walks ends – the closest TubeStop – and a "Latecomers Catch-up Point". Can't be bad.

And now it's down to me, David, to keep on tweak'en 'em and getten' 'em up onto this page.

Which I've been plugging away at for a good few months now – and will be doing for a good few more. To start with I was trying to roll them out as they hoved into view. But in the end I switched over to listing them alphabetically. As you'll see, so far there are nearly 200 of them up here strutting their stuff.

But that's enough foreplay. Let the parade begin...

Mike W. and Walkers "Beachcombing" on the Thames


ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S LONDON - More than 39 Steps
For almost half his life (and nearly half his movies) Alfred Hitchcock was based in London. Even when he went to Hollywood he continued to use British characters and themes. This walk is an affectionate celebration of the London he knew and locations used in his films from the 1920s to the 1970s. The theatres associated with his stars like Robert Donat, Tallulah Bankhead and Ivor Novello. One of his favourite restaurants. Locations for sequences in his silent classic The Lodger, his first sound film Blackmail, and others, including his terrifying farewell to London in Frenzy. It’s the story of his life and work, and how his early brilliance as a director almost ended his career. All this, plus following in the footsteps of a tour Hitch himself gave to Ingrid Bergman back in 1948. A tribute to the Master of Suspense in the city he knew best. Here's a soundbite from the walk.
 
To go on the Alfred Hitchcock's London walk meet the seriously talented Richard IV outside the main exit of HolbornTube.
 
The "Late Comers Catch-up Stop" is the stunning Sicilian Avenue, followed by historic old Bloomsbury Square.
 
The walk ends near EmbankmentTube (and Charing CrossTube).
 

ALL CHANGE AT ST. PANCRAS*

“We’ll give London Walks access to parts of the station
that aren’t open to the public.”**

Well, we weren’t going to say no to that offer, were we! Weren’t going to say no to it because: “St. Pancras is the most significant urban structure built by the railways. Both its engine shed, the inelegant name given to the
enormous glass and iron shelter over the platforms… and the Gilbert Scott hotel would be notable individually, but together they create a world-class terminus… The sheer scale is breathtaking in itself as the station is 150
metres wide and twice that distance long, but the Gothic design, with its exaggerated features such as the clock tower, numerous spires and the large statue of Britannia glaring over at King’s Cross make it one of London’s greatest landmarks” (from Fire & Steam by Christian Wolmar). And that’s just the centrepiece! There’s also the oldest church in Christendom Britain (and its extraordinary churchyard), a stunning roof-top view, and “the mind and memory of the nation!”

*Bottom line: this is the most significant new walk to be added to the London Walks repertory in the last 25 years! 

**We couldn't get specific about this one - had to hold back wth this blurb - because some of these particulars were still in the "development stage" those first couple of months after the station opened. But it looks like the "access" spun gold is coming together now. I.E., we think - we hope - we'll be good to go on that particular count from here on out. Drop us a line - or give us a bell - or indeed check back here in due course and we'll let you know for sure.

And there's no reason to be coy about the genesis of this walk. The plain fact of the matter is St. Pancras has really pulled out the stops for us - including being shown round the redevelopment by the architect himself! As you know, we set a lot by "insider information" and "local knowledge" - and it doesn't get much more "insider" and "local" than a private tour given by the man who spent nine years bringing the project to fruition! And embarrass des riches, the next couple of ones we're going to do are timed to "feed into" at walk's end a lecture that Alastair, the architect, is going to give there at the station. And - for the proverbial cherry on top of the Sunday sundaes, these next two walks will be guided by Steve, who's an architect himself (he does the Frozen Music - the City of London and West End architecure - walks that come up occasionally in our From the Repertory slots.

Guided by Tom, Brian, Richard III or Steve.

To go on the All Change at St. Pancras Walk meet the guide just outside the Euston Road north exit of King’s CrossTube.

King's CrossTube is on the Circle, Metropolitan, Northern, Victoria & Piccadilly Lines.


AMAZING GRACE

A Walk to Celebrate the Abolition of the Slave Trade

Pace Winston Churchill...this may have been London's finest hour!

Their names ring down the centuries, the great and the good who fought for freedom: Wilberforce, Wedgewood, Wesley, Blake, John Newton, Cowper. And that's not to forget the lesser known who began the cause: Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, James Phillips and Oladouh Equiano.

Truly, here in the bosom of the City beat the heart of compassion, answering the slave's cry, "Am I not a man and a Brother?"

Amazing Grace indeed.

"Spots of time" (and place) don't come any more important than this one. Which is why it's important to go and see where – to go over the ground, literally and figuratively –  to travel back...to bear witness.

The starting point for The Amazing Grace walk is MonumentTube.
Meet just outside the Fish Street Hill exit.


THE AMAZING OLD SHOPS WALK
Attention shopaholics! Get ready for some high class retail therapy. And where the prices are stratospheric – well we'll indulge in a peck of window shopping and a pack of what-might-have-been! Credit cards at the ready...

Here's what's on our "shopping list": some of the oldest and most fascinating establishments, all decked out in their Christmas finery: shops which supplied the real Evita with perfume, the suffragettes with food hampers and the Duke of Wellington with books. Shopers where you can buy an Eton College boater, antique toy soldiers, the best selection of the finest cheeses, handmade shoes – and a great hangover cure!!!

The Amazing Old Shops Walk for last minute you know what!
 
normally takes place about a week before Christmas. It's often
the From the Rep Walk – either 10.45 am or 2.30 pm – on the
Saturday before Christmas.

To go on it meet Judy just outside Green ParkTube.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is
the corner of Old Bond Street and Burlington Gardens.

The walk ends near Green ParkTube.


ANARCHY IN THE UK
Consider the tale of Russian anarchist Wilfred Michael Voynich.

In the 1880s he was thrown into a gloomy Siberian prison where his gaolers thoughtfully arranged his cell so that the window faced the gallows, allowing him a good view of watching his friends die.

Somehow Voynich escaped and made his way to Hamburg where he sold his coat and glasses to buy some bread and herring, and a ticket on a boat bound for England. He was penniless, hungry and spoke no English, but what the hell? – he was now in the same city as his comrades!

Most of the leading east European anarchists had come to London as here they could organise and agitate with far more freedom than they could on the Continent. In London Voynich wanted to find the anarchist leader, Stepniak. How could he do that in a city of seven million? His solution was inspired. After getting off the boat near the Tower, Voynich walked around the East End, stopping passers-by at random and thrusting into their face a piece of paper on which was scrawled Stepniak’s name . . . in Russian. It didn’t take long before a Jewish student knew exactly what this dishevelled creature wanted and took him to meet the great man.

Voynich eventually became a great success, but not at anarchism. He acquired a proper job, working as an antiquarian bookseller on Shaftesbury Avenue near Piccadilly Circus where with his stooped back, caused by the cramped conditions of his Siberian cell, and engaging line in seductive talk he became a West End institution.

In 1912, the year when Stepniak was killed by a train Voynich’s life took a surprise turn.

In a secluded Jesuit monastery in Italy he found a remarkable mediaeval document illustrated with fantastic decorations, strange plants and astronomical drawings written in a hitherto unknown language.

No scholar could explain its contents. The finest cryptographic minds have still failed to solve what is now known as the Voynich Manuscript. The British government once even put its entire MI8 department onto the task of unravelling the esoteric incunabula, to no avail, an ironic twist given that the secret services had been engaged in watching Voynich’s political activities only a few decades previously.

Yes, it’s that kind of London walk. We’ll not only be talking about the esoteric like Voynich and Stepniak, we’ll also be discussing the brightest stars in the revolutionary firmament: Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini and even Hitler. All have raged and raved, preached, practiced and propagandised in this part of London.

Viva la Walks revolution!
 

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF MEDIAEVAL LONDON
First things first. This one's archaeologist-guided. Indeed, in terms of professional expertise – of the fit between guide, subject and locale – it couldn't be more honed, couldn't be more focused: Kevin was a Museum of London archaeologist. So, yes, exactly what it says on the tin: an archaeologist-guided exploration of the archaeology of Mediaeval London. We range right across the period – from the time of King Alfred to the Tudors. It's "first hand" – see it, touch it, even sniff it – "physical presence" history and that's always exciting. As is the extra purchase that comes from opening up these lines of inquiry. It's not "if stones could speak" – these stones do speak. So to "exciting" you can add "fascinating". Because that's what it is. It's fascinating the way archaeological discoveries fill in the blanks left by historical and documentary sources. And chapter and verse "structure-wise"? Well, you'll explore mediaeval churches, the City Walls and Guildhall. Really explore them. Because an archaeologist will be directing your gaze, telling you what to look for –- what this is, what that signifies, how they got there, why they're there.
 

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF ROMAN LONDON
First things first. This one's archaeologist-guided. Indeed, in terms of professional expertise – the fit between guide, subject and locale – it couldn't be more honed, couldn't be more focused: Kevin was a Museum of London archaeologist! So, yes, exactly what it says on the tin: an archaeologist-guided exploration of the archaeology of Roman London. It's a three-course banquet. 1) Kevin will get you up to speed on what archaeologists have discovered about the development of Roman London. 2) We'll look at – and make sense of – some of the surviving remains of Londinium. 3) For dessert – ordinary life. Savouries and sweets selected, served up and knowingly, enjoyably, bonhomously, sometimes wickedly shared with you by Martial and Ovid and other Roman authors.
 

THE ARCHAEOLOGY & LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
A Shakespeare walk with a difference. Big difference. It looks at Shakespeare's life and times through the lens of archaeology. And, yes, it's guided by an archaeologist, a former Museum of London archaeologist. So, an archaeological tour of Shakespeare's life and his London. As the forensics people say, every contact leaves a trace. This walk sets its course by those centuries-old "traces", some of them very substantial indeed. Where and how Shakespeare lived and worked and caroused and looked and listened. Especially where he worked – his theatre. Recent archaeological excavations have shed new light on the Elizabethan theatre. The walk goes over that ground, so to speak – draws on that work, those finds. Guided by Kevin. The walk ends near London BridgeTube and Railway Station.
 
To go on The Archaeology & Life of William Shakespeare walk meet Kevin just outside MoorgateTube, the West side.
 

THE ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE WALK
The Adventures of Sherlock's Creator.
 
Elementary my dear walkers, this Tour du Jour is the Arthur Conan Doyle walk. Yup, it's time for some biographical sleuthing. Time to meet the man behind the literary legend. Meet him in his London. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle achieved his greatest fame in London. This walk visits many places important to him. His favourite publishers, including the man who made him, after years of struggle, an ´overnight sensation. One hotel where his wedding reception was held and another where one of the greatest real-life detective cases of his career began. His clubs, including one where he made one of the most momentous decisions of his life. The theatres where he enjoyed both success and disaster. And the street where he made one of his first speeches on the subject that dominated his final years: Spritualism. Follow in his footsteps as his path crosses those of J M Barrie, Bram Stoker and Henry Irving. Patriot, sportsman, and crusader against injustice, Conan Doyle was much more than just the creator of Sherlock Holmes. We sleuth him down on this walk. Him – and his London. Guided by the seriously talented (let alone velvet-voiced – he of Audiobooks fame!) Richard IV. The walk takes about two hours and ends very near Covent GardenTube.
 
To go on the Arthur Conan Doyle Walk meet Richard IV by the Eros Statue at Piccadilly CircusTube.
 

THE ARTISTS' COLONY – Arts & Crafts in Chelsea
There's something to be said for slipping the surly, solemn, sober bonds of the gallery. For going to where the artists lived and loved and worked and walked and socialised and sensualised. And nowhere, in London, quite like Chelsea – with its charm'd magic casements – for saying hello to all that. Hello to "the Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts Movement." (More than hello – because we'll tour its interior.) Hello to the most important surviving domestic mediaeval building in London. Hello to Whistler's house. And Carlyle's. And Bram Stoker's. And Shaw's Swan House and Boyce's Queen Anne House and no end of studios and Chelsea potteries. And of course the main artery of Swinging 60s fashion and design.  And not forgetting a very special studio-house. [Pause for fanfare] The only house in London by the one British architect to be ranked with Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona and Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago. It's a one-off but in it we can see "the strangeness of his work, the self-conscious dislocations of his architecture, and the intensity of feeling in his interiors" – can see why he's in the select company of that handful of architect-designers of great originality and international reputation. And with a walk like this in particular, it's not just what you see – it's how you see it. The weaving together, making connections – takes an art historian. Her name is Molly.  
 
To go on the Artists' Colony walk meet Molly just outside the exit of Sloane SquareTube.
 

AUNTIES' LONDON - Roundabout the BBC
And in a packed programme today, we'll discover a Grade I listed eighteenth century townhouse, a Regency church which is somewhat 'kinky'  and  London's first 'grand hotel', where Sherlock Holmes' creator had a 'Wilde' time. And all of these are 'warm ups' counting down to our main feature today: a visit to 'Auntie Beeb', home of the BBC. You'll see the original glorious Art Deco building whose statues caused a sensation and discover the early days of broadcasting. We'll enter the newly transformed Broadcasting House where you'll get a glimpse of the state of the art 24 hour live Newsroom to witness 21st century broadcasting at its best. In the words of Lord Reith, the BBC's first Director General this walk will 'inform, educate and entertain!' That's a guarantee, a can't miss – not least because the walk's guided by Simon W., the BBC's star in-house guide!
 

BACKSTAIRS BELGRAVIA - Byways, Hidden Haunts & Classic Pubs

London's drawing room. That's where we're headed. And first things first: There's no other neighbourhood in London like this. It looks different. Sounds different. Feels different. All pearly stucco and cut glass accents and blue blood...the place simply breathes money. The people who live here are people who could live anywhere. Which is why they live here. Here in this movie-set corner of London. Here in Upstairs-Downstairs land, so profoundly English, but also, somehow, exotic. And what a cavalcade of residents: Baroness Margaret Thatcher, David Niven, Vivien Leigh, Lord Lucan, Mozart, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Omar Shariff, and other rare plumages. After tonight you'll be able to do some world class name dropping! And because we're going to see it through the peep-hole – threading our way through its cobbled little lanes and mews – past secret escapes and vistas of sudden surprise – we'll make some wonderful discoveries. For good measure we'll call in at a couple of pubs that are small masterpieces – the haunts of those who know! And let's end with something serious – and fascinating: this neighbourhood is a crash course in the English class system. The best one you'll ever encounter. The gradations are marked out here like chess pieces on a chess board. And arrayed every bit as clearly. If you know how to "read" the buildings, that is. The buildings and their relation to one another. You'll acquire that skill on this walk. 


BAUHAUS TO OUR HOUSE – Modernist Architecture in Olde NW3
Eighty years ago the German Bauhaus movement of art, design and architecture shook the world. From the designs of BMW to the shelves of IKEA, its influence is still very much with us. Hampstead – NW3 - has some of the most visually exciting Bauhaus buildings in the UK: the now sadly neglected Isokon building, Maxwell Fry's Sun House, and Erno Goldfinger's 1-3 Willow Road. Three indelible gems to reminds of the legacy of the school which was closed down in Berlin by the Nazis in 1933 and scattered its creative talents to the USA, Britain, and other countries.
 
The Bauhaus to Our House Walk is guided by the distinguished London Historian Ed Glinert, the author of London: Exploring the Hidden Metropolis, The London Compendium, and A Literary Guide to London.
 
To go on the Bauhaus to Our House Walk
meet Ed just outside Belsize ParkTube.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is at
the junction of Downside Crescent and Lawn Road.

The walk ends at HampsteadTube.


BEAT LONDON – Kerouac, Ginsberg & Dylan
Half a century ago, in the face of public outrage in the U.S. at the publication of his On the Road, Jack Kerouac adhered to the first rule of pyrotechnics. Having lit his fabulous yellow roman candle, he stood well back: in Tangier (with erstwhile Londoner William Burroughs), in Europe and, for a brief few days, London. His account of this stay can be found in the 1960 collection Lonesome Traveller. The great surprise, from the man who arguably fathered the 21st Century concept of hardcore Traveller over sedate Holidaymaker, is that his London highlights – pea-soup fog, policemen’s helmets, pints of bitter beer – read more like a checklist of touristy ephemera than a cache of rare gems unearthed by a seasoned traveller. But the sheer, childlike glee with which Kerouac announces each “discovery” is infectious stuff. From St Paul’s (for a Good Friday performance of the Matthew Passion) to the Old Vic (for The Taming of the Shrew), Kerouac – a man patently in thrall to the city before he’s even stepped off the train at Victoria – finds his London of the imagination perfectly in rhythm with the real thing. Perhaps it was the dignity of old lady London, despite her still-ragged post-war weeds, that delighted the so-called King of the Beats most of all. Was there a city more Beat than London in 1957? Where better for Kerouac to live out his last few days of obscurity before heading into the teeth of the Beat Generation storm?
 
Only a couple of things to add. The "blurb" you've just read is a straight lift from the London Walks blog – http://londonwalkblog.blogspot.com/ - proof, if any were needed, that the blog's a great read. And indeed is doing something very different from this, "the mothership", the main London Walks website. In short, it's lasering in – one snippet of marvelous London information per bite-size "post". A sort of tapas of the London tapestry, if you please. Anything else? Yes, it's got great imagery. And it's Adam – the best writer on the team – at the helm. So it's a can't-go-wrong. And as long as we're in that particular purlieu, Adam's created and guides the Beat London Walk, so that in itself is your 24-carat GUARANTEE of a really fun, very interesting London Walk. One of those "change the way you see" London Walks!
 
To go on the Beat London Walk meet Adam just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube
 

BEHIND THE TERMINI WALKS
The Behind the Termini Walks are exactly what the portmanteau term says. They're a series of walks – created and guided by Rachel – that explore the "back yard" of the great London Railway Stations: King's Cross, Victoria, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Waterloo, etc.. Rachel's written a short "blurb" for each of the walks. And of course the date, time and meeting place particulars are also set out here. Simply scroll down for each of them.
 
Liverpool Street – Where The City meets The East End
Not in the Winter 2013-14 programme but can be booked privately
Built on the site of 'Bedlam',  Liverpool Street station straddles three very different worlds, the original City, the new Broadgate development of offices and shops and the station itself. There is wonderful modern architecture to admire, public art to consider, a Turkish Bath which has somehow survived  but also poignant stories too of The Elephant Man and the 1930s Kinderstransport.
Meet: Outside McDonalds, Liverpool Street Railway Station

Wonderful Waterloo
Sunday, March 30th (2014) at 2.30 pm
Described as being for 'a better class of commuter'' Waterloo provides an opportunity to hear the stories behind not one but seven stations and from one,  The Station of the Dead, there were no return journeys! Behind the station you will discover  wonderful artisanal housing, the theatre that went from music hall to temperance to being one of London's top theatre venues and the site of London's Cans Festival.
Meet: Beneath the central clock on main concourse, Waterloo Railway Station
  
All Change at King's Cross
Sunday November 10th (2013) at 2.30 pm
This is the site that everyone is flocking to since the arrival of the Eurostar at St Pancras station. Explore the newly renovated station and unlock the secrets to the surrounding area. Once London's most notorious red light district this area has undergone a transformation. Two Victorian railway stations, the gothic splendour of the old Midland Grand Hotel,  regeneration projects, a German Gymnasium, film locations, a canalside nature reserve and the church which gave the area its name with several notable burials, all feature.
Meet: Outside Post Office on Euston Road, opposite King's Cross station

Victoria – Gateway to the Continent
Not in the Winter 2013-14 programme but can be booked privately
Two stations built side by side, eventually merged in the 1920s and for many people Victoria was from where they embarked on their first continental journey. With the Night Ferry, the Orient Express, the Imperial Airways Terminal, Victoria had glamour and the excitement of foreign travel. In and around are delightful backstreets, almshouses and the Byzantine extravaganza of Westminster Cathedral.
Meet: Outside big WH Smith on main concourse of Victoria Railway Station 
 
Paddington – Home to 'The Holiday Line'
Sunday, February 9th (2014) at 2.30 pm
With its canals, trains, trams and the Underground Paddington became a vast transport hub, home to the GWR, 'God's Wonderful Railway'. Nearby, a messy laboratory led to the discovery of penicillin and today, the massive rail goods and maintenance yards for so long hidden from public view have been transformed with canalside waterways and three quirky but functional bridges. 
Meet: By Paddington Bear statue, inside Food Court, at Paddington Railway Station
 
And Two New Ones...
 
Marylebone – Antiques, Beatles & Cricket
Sunday, January 19th (2014) at 2.30 pm
"Blurb" to follow... 
Meet: Marylebone Railway Station (upstairs concourse, by the entrance to the Tube)
 
Charing Cross – Secrets of the Strand
Sunday, March 2nd (2014) at 2.30 pm
"Blurb" to follow... 
Meet: Charing Cross Railway Station (by entrance to Charing Cross Hotel)
 


THE BELLS OF STEPNEY
Remember the first time you looked through a microscope at a droplet of water? All kinds of extraordinary things – all different shapes and colours – swimming around in there that were undreamt of before you focused that microscope. Well, let's miniaturize (and liquefy) Stepney. Turn it into a beautiful bead of water. And then put it under the microscope. Here's some of what you'll see – what Hilary will "show" you on this walk.  (And as always the readings are taken from  – and the course is charted by – the London Walks pole star: it's not just what you see, it's how you see it!) Just a blurb catalogue really, but it'll give you a fair idea of the "all kinds of extraordinary things" "swimming around" in Stepney. Such as: A church dating from the 10th century. A Ragged School. A green. Beautiful 17th-century houses. A famous nursery rhyme. An urban farm, (complete with porkers and baa baas). One of the nodal points of London – and English – history. The Regent's Canal. That great boon and comfort and solace to Englishmen out in the mid-day sun: India Pale Ale (the place, the man, the back story – not just a bottle of beer thank you very much). The fish and the ring. The devil's horse losing a shoe. Okay, enough for now. Except to add that this one's been created – and is guided by – Hilary. Star guiding power in other words - fun, intelligent, lively, friendly, assured. A 24-carat guarantee of a great London Walk!
 
To go on The Bells of Stepney – Reform, Ragged Schools & Dr. Barnardo walk meet Hilary just outside the exit of Mile EndTube.
 

BETHNAL GREEN - The Lost Village in London's Backyard
Originally a green and pleasant area attracting wealthy residents, by Victorian times the Bethnal Green district had become the poorest in London. The housing and sanitation were appalling. TB was rampant. Needless to say, the area was transformed following the Second World War bombing, subsequent slum clearance, and the rise of the big housing estates. All changed. Changed utterly. Or is it? Which is by way of saying, if you know where – and how – to look (and Hilary certainly does) there are enough interesting hints and glimpses of the bad old days to take us back down the corridor of years. Let alone prompt some gob-smacking stories! In short, this one's very much of the beaten tourist track. It's Londoners" London. Which makes it a Snap! when you hear that it was here that Samuel Pepys stashed his dirary away during the Great Fire. Oh and another shining thread... children of all ages, including seniors, will delight in the Museum of Childhood.

To go on the Bethnal Green - The Lost Village in London's Backyard walk
meet Hilary just outside the exit of Bethnal GreenTube.

The Latecomers Catch-up stop is in the park next to the station.

The Bethnal Green walk ends back at Bethnal GreenTube.


BETJEMAN'S LONDON
 
Summoned by bells we are. Not to attend church but to hear beautifully crafted verses from John Betjeman (1906-84), Britain’s best-loved poet. Betjeman wrote with such affection about north London – about being “safe in a world of trains and buttered toast”, about Zwanziger the baker's, and the Bon Marché, and the terrace “blackish-brown, and the curious Anglo-Norman parish church of Kentish Town” – and we'll be following in the great man’s footsteps, to the places he wrote about, the houses he lived in, the churches he prayed in, the railway stations he dreamed in. Great subject. Fascinating area. And the best possible guide – Lance aka "The Voice".
 

BETWEEN THE KING'S SHEETS – Frisky, Risky, Risque Royals
This one's Rated R: Restricted. I.E., not suitable for under 12s. The only other London Walk that's got an R rating is Past the Palace – Hidden Places & Hidden History. And to assist you in your calibrations, this walk is Past the Palace with added spice! And pubs. So, yes – yessssssss – a tantalising tango of a walk. A walk through unofficial history* – through true history, real history. Through lewd and lusty history. It's kings who were queens and women who weren't queens but queened it over the hearts of kings. It's affairs and betrayals. It's heart aches and hearth aches. It's love triangles. It's debauchery and treachery. It's wild passions and wisps of culrls and whispers in ears. It's fans and muffs and darting, daring, dating glances. It's secrets, sweethearts and seductions. It's mistresses, mayhem and madness. It's snuff and sniffles and "you couldn't make this stuff up" stuff. It's London's last village pub (with its underground royal connections and its fabulous whiskey collection). It's the tales and trails and wiles and wanderlust of those whose "job it was to curtsy first and then jump into bed."  Guided by Katy. *How did Tolstoy put it, "[official] history would be a wonderful thing – if it were only true."
 
The Latecomers' Catch-up stop is in front of Charing Cross Station.
 
N.B. the walk takes about two and a half hours and ends very near Green ParkTube.
 

THE BLOODY CITY –
Rulers & Rebels in Mediaeval London
 Take a walk through through the dark side of London’s history where anyone who practiced freedom of speech usually lived to regret it...

Follow in the footsteps of martyrs at a time of vicious persecutions; discover the fate of one king murdered for his religious beliefs and another killed on the orders of his wife.

Other highlights include one of London‘s churches which gained a reputation of bad luck for anyone who tried to shelter in it, the site where the Gunpowder plotters met; where the City backed the rebellion against a king; where a discredited nobleman led an army against his queen.
 
And, hey, a couple of years ago there was even the frisson of an appropriate anniversary. The walk took place on the anniversary of Bloody Mary’s death! Well, anniversary or no anniversary it goes without saying that we'll see the gatehouse where legend has it she sat knocking back the wine and feasting on roast chicken while watching Protestant martyrs being burned alive outside. 
 
And another "frisson": the walk's been created and will be guided by an award-winning Blue Badge Guide who, into the bargain, can read Egyptian hieroglyphics!  Her name's Vicky.
 

BLOOMING REGENCY
The Pleasures of the Park in Spring!
 
Let's set the scene. John Nash's terraces of houses around three sides of this huge park are unique. The grouping of palatial facades around a landscaped park exists nowhere else. The urban residents can have the impression of living in their own stately homes and looking out over their own ancestral acres (with the added fillip of eccentricity, in Cumberland Terrace, of a nightly concert from the Zoo lions). The groupings of colonnaded facades, all in buff stucco, some with friezes and roof-perched statuary, give views from within and vistas everywhere from without. They are distinguished, lofty, civilized. They define the word patrician. And that's before we get to the park itself! The park in Springtime! Bliss! Anything else? Yes. And it's super important. This one's laced with local knowledge. Anne-Marie, who guides the walk, lives locally. Ummmmm. 
 
To go on the Blooming Regency walk meet Anne-Marie just outside the exit of Great Portland StreetTube.
 

BOHEMIAN FITZROVIA - Pub Walking in London's Old Latin Quarter
The Fitzrovia Pub Walk is built along those same classic London Walks lines that the Rotherhithe Walk is. Namely, it's very very central but socially it's on the edge, on the margin. And that's a potent combination. A potent combination because it means the area has always attracted "misfits" – artistic and literary and musical "misfits". (Let alone odds and ends like the last hangman in Britain or Alasteir Crowley, the black magician.) Attracted them because the area was cheap, it was affordable.

So it's a real "find". It's got great pubs, great history – it's chock-a-block with those "moments" London Walks specialises in. Those I-never-knew-this-was-here – never-knew-that moments. And while you're at it, take a peek at this little photo-essay of the neighbourhood.
 
To go on the Fitzrovia Pub Walk meet David just outside the exit of Goodge StreetTube.
 
The "Late-Comers Catch-up Stop is by the American Church in London. It's just 50 yards up Tottenham Court. Come out of Goodge StreetTube, turn left, go past the big mural (it'll be on your left - and it, incidentally, is the second catch-up stop), and hey presto, there's the church (and right beside it, a highly visible piece of early 1940s history that's, well, extraordinary). That's where we'll be fifteen minutes or so in to the walk.
 
The walk ends near Oxford CircusTube.
 

"BOND, JAMES BOND"
The London of 007 and Ian Fleming
 
"Shaken not stired" ........ahhhhh how those words have become intertwined over the years with a do-or-die world of magnificiently malevolent villains, seductively sensuous sirens and reckless romances in exotic locations. Visit the sites that played an important role in the life of Ian Fleming. His place of birth, his clubs and his shops. As for 007 himself, much of what made the man – the gun, the gas-guzzler, the gambling and the grooming all took place around Mayfair and St James'. If he existed that is. Maybe he did. Maybe he does. Want to find out what personalities and events in Fleming's life inspired the characters and plots of Bond? Curious about how relevant 007 is in our post Cold War world? Keen to hear more about their superhuman capability to absorb ridiculous amounts of alcohol and tobacco? Then leave your weapon at home and come and find out. Tux not compulsory.
The meeting point for the "Bond, James Bond" walk is just outside exit 2 (the Park Lane exit) of Marble ArchTube.
 
Meet Justin – who bears a remarkable resemblance to the gentleman in question (James Bond, NOT Oddjob) – just there, just outside exit 2 of Marble ArchTube.
 
And as long as we're at it, here's a rather nifty little home movie of the walk.
 

BONKING LONDON – More Sex Please, We're British!
Here's one that'll flutter your wind-chimes! It's the real, x-rated London you've never – make that NEVER - imagined! From the covered-up scandals of Parliament to the OPENLY practised perversions of the aristocracy, from Harrison's List of young ladies fresh from the country and ready and willing to the "actresses" and rakes of Haymarket, from the "nuns" of St. James's to "below the counter" in Soho. You'll need a stiff drink – if not a dose of smelling salts – after this lot! So, yes, More Sex Please, We're British – this is, after all, today's Tour du Jour! And look, full disclosure – this is a light-hearted look at London's sexual mores and misbehaviour, past and present. How and when and where the great and the good were caught with their trousers round their ankles, usually with a hopeless, hapless, bedraggled, seen-better-days fig leaf of hypocrisy compounding the compromising particulars. Guided by Sue. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at Piccadilly CircusTube.
 
For More Sex Please, We're British! (hmm, something tells me I'd better be careful about how I phrase this) meet Sue just outside exit 5 of WestminsterTube.
 

A "BUTCHER'S HOOK" AT BATTERSEA
 Blake, Benedict Arnold & Britain's Busiest Station on this Battersea Bop Back through Time. Meeting world famous characters as we go. Seriously back through time. Which is by way of saying, one of our "encounters" is with someone who quite possibly was here even before the English came to Battersea.  What else? Well, the walk starts where something happened to Oscar Wilde that haunted him for the rest of his life. Moving on, we pass the site of the original “Death’s door”. We see the shop where a great poet fell asleep with disastrous consequences. We see what the developers did to Battersea in the 1880s and how one of them got shot dead! We find out what a Battersea bundle is. We discover how the unification of Italy caused a church to be built in Battersea. We stand on a Saint’s island. We find out why Blake the poet, Turner the painter and Benedict Arnold the loyalist all came to Battersea. Guided by Rex.
 
N.B. we end in a patch of Battersea that's well served by buses. If it's the Tube or a Railway connection that you want, well, that's a chance to see a bit more of Battersea (and Clapham) with Rex at your side. In short, if you prefer he'll walk you back to Clapham Junction – it's a pleasant 25-minutes or so guide-accompanied stroll! 
 
To go on the "Butcher's Hook" at Battersea walk meet Rex in the shopping arcade which forms the St. John's Hill exit from Clapham Junction Railway Station. He's the bonhomous Brit who'll be holding up copies of the distinctive white London Walks leaflet.
 

C THE CITY – I Spy in the City
C is for Cheese, Cordwainer, Cathedral, Cetera...
 
I Spy in the City indeed! I see the City. Correction: I C the City. C for cheese, cordwainers, cathedral, cetera – just some of the canapes on this, today's Tour du Jour. In short, if it begins with C chances are you'll hear about it and/or see it on this walk. And what a collection, what a compendium: camels, cockneys, coffee, costermongers, Cross keys, churches, cherubs, cetera. Though probably not coprolites. It's a cracker. Bring your camera. Guided by Isobel. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends near MonumentTube.
 
To come on the C the City – C is for Cheese, Cordwainer, Cathedral, Cetera caper contact your conductress and coeval Isobel just outside exit 2 of St. Paul'sTube.
 

CHARLES DICKENS' CHRISTMAS CAROL & SEASONAL TRADITIONS
All the delights and delicacies of a London Victorian Christmas with Charles Dickens's famous story A Christmas Carol as your route map and inspiration.
 
 
We'll deck the streets of London with balls of jolly. Scrooge and Marley and the Cratchits... they're all here. This was where Dickens's imagination took wing and where the characters did their thing. And as we make their acquaintance we'll spice things with warming seasonal stories of turkeys and boars" heads, Christmas puds, mince pies and pantomimes; cards, crackers, Christmas trees and mistletoe. Let alone the bells that rang out on Christmas morning to wake Scrooge up – a much changed character.
 
HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!

The Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol & Seasonal Traditions walk
 makes several appearance in the From the Repertory programme
from late November onwards. Remaining dates for this year – Christmas Season 2013 – are:
 
2.30 pm on Saturday, December 28
 
10.45 am on Sunday, December 29

To go on the Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol & Seasonal Traditions walk
meet just outside the exit of Tower HillTube at the appointed hour and date.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is in Trinity Gardens.

The walk ends near St. Paul'sTube.
 

CHARLES DICKENS' WOMEN –From Fact to Fiction
Some of Dickens' most memorable characters are women. This walk explores the connection between the women in his own life and the characters he creates on the page. So, for example, women are used to express his concerns about the social conditions of the day. Sairey Gamp, for example. She's one of the funniest characters in all of Dickens, but he also uses her to make a serious point about the standard of nursing care in Britain at the time. Similarly, characters like Mrs Corney and Mrs Nickleby allow him to explore the state of eduction and the cruelty of the workhouse. As a reporter and an editor Dickens was fascinated by "real life" stories and many of them find their way into his fiction. Transmuted, of course. But there's no question he's "painting from the life" as it were. So, the real life murder of Eliza Grimwood is echoed in the tragic death of Nancy (the tart with a heart ) in Oliver Twist. But the theme is even richer. For starters there's deeply problematic "relations" Dickens had with the women who were closest to him – his mother, his wife, his mistress, his daughters. And then there's the "extra element". To wit: with Dickens it wasn't solely a case of his attending to these matters in his fiction. He also rolled up his sleeves and got on with it – took practical as well as fictional steps to try to make a difference. Most notably his partnership with the philanthropist Angela Burdette Coutts, a partnership aimed at improving the lot of "fallen women". This walk "maps" these matters. It goes to the corners of London where the fiction and the fact intertwine. Goes to the places – and then "goes over the ground", as it were. The walk is guided by Alison. A literary historian and educator, she's a Dickens specialist. And the lecturer for the Literary London "unit" of the Blue Badge Guides course. N.B. the walk ends near MonumentTube.
 

CHINESE ART IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM
Meet Kuan-yin, the Chinese goddess of mercy. You'll be glad you did. No image could be more gracefully, serenely, exquisitely lovely than she. And that's by way of extending a very special invitation: Let's Go To China. To the Shang and Tang and Ching dynasties. To Old Cathay. Our magic carpet is the Chinese works of art in the British Museum. Works of art that present to us people, ideas and beliefs that are very different from what we're used to. It's heady stuff. These objects are very beautiful. But they're also novel, mysterious, exotic. And they have much to teach us – they provide a breathtaking insight into the Chinese character. And as for their range, well, no people have excelled the Chinese in the variety as well as the brilliance of their arts. Throughout almost all the 3,000 years since the Shang ruled they have evolved a stunning succession of styles in sculpture, painting, ceramics, jade, textiles and all manner of other substances. And seeing these things with someone who knows what they're talking about – who can, to take just one example, shed all kinds of light on the symbolism, utility and aesthetic grace of the Tsun ritual vessel – well, "cultural stimulation" doesn't come any more rewarding. Guided by Barry.
 

CHISWICK HOUSE & GARDENS
Welcome to Classical London's 'pure serene.'
 
Welcome to "an authentic piece of Renaissance Italy magically translated" to west London.
 
Its facets – its many facets – fascinate. It's London's most surprising country house. It's a Grade I listed architectural gem. It's a Tuscan villa in an idyllic English landscape (its setting is one of the oldest landscape gardens in this country). It's arguably the most outstanding country house design in England. It's perhaps the most elegant and intriguing private home in London. It's "too small to live in, too big to hang on a watch" (as one Geogian artistocrat put it). It's the Duchess of Devonshire's "earthly paradise." That said, it's got its dark side. It's where statesmen go to die. And its bizarre side: it's been a fire station; and a mental hospital. It's been "Handel'd.". And "Beatle'd." (The king's kappellmeister dedicated two operas to his host at Chiswick House. The Beatles did a film shoot in the Conservatory.) It's had an elephant, emus, elks, giraffes and kangaroos roaming across its park. It wasn't built to live in* – it was built to display the Apollo of the Arts' collections of furniture, books and art. Its incidentals, its passing delights – ranging from decorative temples and folles in the park to spectacular plasterwork and lavishly carved fire surrounds – are beyond compare. It caused a sensation in the 1730s. It causes one today.
 
Anything else? Yes, the keystone to these two hours, to your experience of (and at) Chiswick House, to what you'll see and discover on this walk: it's guided by a specialist in the subject, an art historian.
 
To go on the Chiswick House & Gardens Tour meet Molly just outside the exit of Turnham GreenTube.
 
*As David Long (this blurb, incidentally, is much indebted to him) puts it, Chiswick House was "never intended to be even remotely practical".

 
 
 
THE CHRISTMAS DAY CHARLES DICKENS' LONDON WALK
Merry Christmas Everyone!
 
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me."  Charles Dickens
 
 
Our afternoon walk is all about the man who some think invented Christmas. He didn't. He re-invented it! Before Mr Dickens and his stories came along Christmas was a rather small celebration on the Christian calender. It was Dickens whose words plumped, fluffed and sprinkled Christmas all over the world. So on Christmas afternoon we celebrate him his words, his life and his Christmas – A Christmas before Cola turned Santa red. A Christmas in the gaslight. A Christmas in London.
 
The Charles Dickens Christmas Day walk starts at 2 pm. The meeting point is by the big Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. How appropriate is that? How appropriate indeed. Because we're starting where the first great London spark of Dickens' fictional career was struck. And from there we're on our way. Taking our bearings by that great Dickensian sextant: "what inexhaustible food for speculation the streets of London afford." On our way. Heading into it. Dickens' London. Victorian London. It's still there. It's the skull beneath the face of modern London. The walk is like a piece of reverse reconstructive surgery. It takes us into that London. Via some very special "insertion points". Tiny, all-but-lost alleyways and forgotten lanes, a wonderful surviving fragment of the Victorian underworld, time-honoured street furniture – well, you get the idea. And the accompaniment – always the accompaniment – for it's not just what you see, it's how you see it – is Dickens. His words, his characters, his experiences, his nightmares and visions. His triumphs and his tragedies. His London. What he saw and felt. And what he made of it. Pickwick, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Pip and his Great Expectations, the Dickensian Christmas – they're all here. Tumbling out of this Dickensian London Christmas stocking.
 
And hey, there's virtually no traffic. It's the one day of the year we've got the streets to ourselves. And what gets the balance so right is that there's a sprinkling of cafes and restaurants that will be open – so at walk's end, for sure, creature- and taste-bud Christmas comforts beckon...
 

 
CHRISTMAS MORNING, 1660 – Samuel Pepys' London
Yes, Christmas Morning 1660. Everybody knows that 1660 was the year of the Restoration. But it wasn’t just the monarchy that was “restored” in that year. What’s not so well known is that Christmas was banned between 1652 and 1660. The Ebeneezer Scrooge of that era was none other than the Protector himself, Oliver Cromwell. He certainly didn’t protect Christmas. He shot it down and shut it down. Hard to believe isn’t it – no Christmas in England for eight years. Talk about doing hard time. Cromwell and Co. put the boot in because, according to them, Christmas was a farrago of pagan traditions and popish nonsense. And as such it had to be extirpated. And so it was. But, happily, that all changed in 1660. Cromwell was kaput. Royalty – in the person of Charles II – was rip roaringly replevined, not to say rampant. Puritanism was purged. And part and parcel of all that was we got Christmas back. So Christmas morning 1660 – must have been pretty special, wouldn’t you say? And what’s neat is that – well, you weren’t there, but you can be there! This time round, I mean. All you have to do is meet our guides by the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square at 11 am on Christmas Day and go on the Christmas Morning, 1660 – Samuel Pepys’ London walk –  a Christmas Restoration walk in every sense of the word! And what better figure to accompany us on our rounds than that quintessential Londoner – let alone the grestest diarist of them all – Samuel Pepys himself. We're following in his footsteps. Going calling on the Westminster that he knew. And immortalised in the diary. Lucky us. Because Pepys' Diary, begun in 1660, is the most entertaining and joyful autobiographical record ever kept. Thanks to the quality of the writing, the little anecdotes (they're like plums in a Christmas pudding), the illuminating profiles, the indiscretions, the insults and - tying it altogether - the warmth of Pepys' personality. Guided by Richard III, Mark and Simon. The walk takes about two hours and ends near Trafalgar Square.
 

THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS & SEASONAL CHEER PUB WALK
T'was a few nights before Christmas and all through the streets the walkers got ready for this Christmas pre-eve treat. The walk on this eve unwraps London at its most inviting. Let alone most historic. Our town turned out in its sparkling best – seasonally festive, all dolled up for the Big Day. And part of the weave, part of the walk – lots of Christmas connections and seasonal traditions. And as per normal with London Walks, the secret ingredient(s) – the see the unseen magic. The "didn't know that, never would have seen that" trimmings. Let alone lashings of conviviality and general hail-fellow-well-met-ness! All of which will of course set you up very nicely in the plenty-to-talk-about-over-the-turkey-next-Wednesday lists. So, in sum, since it's the weekend Eve before that Eve it's streets laced with lights and twinkling with cheer and (just maybe) sequined with snow. (You don't get more Christmas Card Christmas than London when she's donned the ermine!) But to make sure we keep Jack – and his frost – at bay, Simon will put in at a couple of fine old hostelries for mulled wine or hot cider or ale or sherry. But, hey, it's Christmas – no excuses needed to be merry, get merry, keep merry, make merry!
 
To go on the Christmas Lights & Seasonal Cheer Pub Walk meet Simon just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube.
 

THE CITY OF MONEY – Coming Across*
This summer (2014) the City of Money walks takes place at  4.30 pm on the first Sunday of every month: May 4, June 1, July 6, August 3September 7 & October 5. And on Tuesday, September 16 it will take place at 2 pm.
Same meeting place for all of them: exit 2 of St. Paul'sTube
 
A plunge into the darkness and swirling fog. No, not Victorian London. Our London. Or rather, their London. The London of the wolves of Threadneedle Street and Lombard Street. Financial London. The Wall Street of Europe London. And darkness and swirling fog because – well, do you really know what a hedge fund is? Or a derivative? Or short-selling? Or how the stock market works? Do you really know What. Money. Really. Is. And how it shapes the world. No? Well, it just might behove you to do so. Behove you to do so because ostriching it – "nothing to do with me" – won't get you off the hook. Off "their" hook. In short, this London – Money London – has everything to do with your life. So let's go see these places.** And more importantly, let's go see into*** them.
 
*Coming Across because the City makes us all "come across". But also of course because of what we come across – what we happen on to, discover. And, yes, the suggestion that the walk runs counter to – or cuts across – the usual official, anodyne, window dressing palavver about the City and its doings. And, finally, the mark of Zorro (so to speak) that Richard's across all of that: Knows. What. Money. Really. Is. Knows how it works. Knows its subterfuges.
 
**A sampler: Wren's gateway, the high-tech home of the Stock Exchange, Goldsmiths' Hall, the ancient home of the Corporation of London and its beautiful Wren church...
 
***"Chapter headings" include: Why did a hurricane sweep in from those far flung South Seas? How did a medieval order of knights become the first international bankers? Peek-a-boo it's the home of the masters of the universe and more than one US Treasury Secretary. Lessons in finance from George Soros. Learning how to break the British pound and make a billion. Where the ‘Thundering Herd’ rode their luck over a cliff.  John Law’s amazing philosopher’s stone, which he created thanks to the Chinese.
 
Last point: if this walk were a sword it'd be made of the finest Toledo steel. Ice-brook tempered. Which is by way of saying, this one hasn't been whipped up just like that. A great deal has gone into it – and it's been honed for years. For example, some of the steel in the blade has come from Richard's book, Who Cares? Or Why War, Poverty, Environmental Destruction and Debt Are So Popular. Some of it's come from the hugely popular walk the Occupy group conducted two years ago. Elements of it have come from thinkers ranging from Adam Smith and David Ricardo to Friedrich Hayek and Joseph Stizlitz. And all of it's been sharpened – for years – by arguably the finest mind on the team.
 
To go on The City of Money walk meet Richard just outside exit 2 of St. Paul'sTube. The walk ends near BankTube.
 

THE CITY SCULPTURE SAFARI – London's Hidden Masterpieces

Safari.* Great word. And even though we’re in the City of London safari’s the mot juste for this walk.  We’re an “expedition on foot”. And, yes, we’re a “party travelling…into unspoiled…areas for tourism or game viewing.” We’ve got “big game” in the shape of the City’s monumental sculptures – the monarchs of the glen, the king of beasts sculptures. They’ve all got a history, they’ve all got a habitat, they’ve all got distinctive characteristics. They’ve got a past. They’ve got their own stories. It’s stuff that’s fun to know, stuff that gives pause, stuff that changes the way you see these works. Stuff that makes the new familiar and the familiar new. But it’s not just “big game.” You’ll also be shown tiny, hidden little pieces that you’d just never see off your own bat. And that’s why the adjective “unspoiled” is spot on for this walk. It’s the City of London – the Wall Street of Europe – but there are things in there (or up there) – delightful little details, decorative bagatelles (including, yes, tiny little creatures) – that only the trained eye can pick out. To see them you have to be, well, spot on. You have to be taken to the X-marks-the-spot spot and then have your gaze directed. Those are fun moments. They’re the walking tour equivalent of Attenborough going sub-microscopic. Good walk. Guided by Anne-Marie.

*For the record you’re speaking Swahili when you use the word safari. Yes, that’s right, safari’s the Swahili word for journey or expedition. But drill down into the word you get some Arabic as well. The Swahili word safari is from the Arabic safar, meaning journey or tour.  In English it’s “an expedition on foot…for hunting or scientific research. A party travelling…into unspoiled or wild areas for tourism or game viewing.” And be it East Africa or the City of London if you’re getting to see things that other people haven’t seen – well, welcome to “a new found land”, to an “unspoiled” vista!


CLASSIC LONDON MEWS & HIDDEN PASSAGEWAYS
This is a thread-the-needle walk. By that I mean it's possible to walk from Earl's Court to Kensington with hardly ever having to "deal with" – "put up with" – main roads and busy streets and the general philistinism of the automobile culture. You can side street-it. Alleyway-it. Best of all, mews-it. Pretty maids all in a row. Well, not in a row – rather, strung along Hilary's thread-the-needle route. But yes – BIG YES – pretty-as-a-picture mews cottages. Lots of them pastel-splashed. Lots of them decked with flower boxes. Urban coves, havens of 19th-century tranquility. And, always always always, the pleasure of the route – of the way it "connects up". Well, the way Hilary has pieced it together. Connected it. Some of them – the connections – you wouldn't know were there. They're secret. They're hidden. They're through doors in walls and around a corner and up steps – that kind of thing. Very very satisfying. And visually – does this really need saying? – a huge treat. This is eye candy London. But not just eye candy. Because the whole thing is buttressed with lots of fascinating history. There are about 250 mews in London. Where they are, what they were for, how they came about, who they served – well, they're one of the crucial pieces in the social puzzle of 19th century London. And not just London, but Britain, really. And for that matter,  20th and 21st century London. They're not just a series of "pretty faces" – they "map" both the past and the present. Map them in important ways. Ways that help us to better understand the place. Better understand our city. Guided by Hilary.
 

DENMARK HILL & CAMBERWELL
Aesthetes, Assembly Rooms & Hidden Gardens
 
Something well and truly off the beaten path – that's what this Tour du Jour serves up. Called "the Belgravia of South London" by The Builder magazine, Denmark Hill, once home to John Ruskin, is a part of central London that just manages to retain a whiff of the countryside away from the busily commercial Camberwell Green. Most of the walk is "behind the scenes". The Denmark Hill and Camberwell you might have suspected existed but had yet to explore. Guided by Isobel. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at Camberwell Green, which is served by a huge number of buses going everywhere! And Denmark Hill Railway Station is just a ten minute walk away.
 
To go on the Denmark Hill & Camberwell walk meet just outside the exit of Denmark Hill Railway Station.
 

DIAL M FOR MURDER
“You are 14-years-old. You walk down the Charing Cross Road. You are accosted by a man wearing a flashy tie. The rest follows on from there.” So explained Frank Norman, the Barnardo’s boy who became an unlikely celebrity after writing his prison memoirs.

This is the world the West End villain enters, one of dazzle, glitter, glitz, glamour. But there’s also a dark side. Occasionally things get out of hand. Someone dials “M”. On the other end of the line is a representative of Murder Incorporated. Soho is that kind of place, or at least it was. Or as Scotland Yard’s Ted Greeno put it, “in the West End you could buy anything and see everything; and you could get your throat slit more promptly than in a pirate ship on the China Seas”.

No worries. It was all long ago. Murder Incorporated has closed down, and its directors are now so much dust, but the fascination for their stories remains. And what stories. Like how Soho’s Jewish and Italian gangsters fought like tigers during the Second World War, culminating in the fatal stabbing in 1941 of Harry “Little Hubby” Distleman, doorman of the West End Bridge and Billiards club. Like the tale of how the owner of a deli on Old Compton Street planned the assassination of none other than Benito Mussolini – Il Duce himself – in Rome (all this from Soho) and nearly got his way.

Make an appointment to Dial M for Murder. Meet the guide, the distinguished London historian Ed Glinert, outside Oxford CircusTube (Exit 6). Probably just as well though if you don't tell Jack Spot, Darby Sabini, Reggie Kray, Billy Hill, Jack the Stripper or Moishe Blueball that you're swanning around "sight seeing" on their patch!
 

 
DOING THE LAMBETH WALK
Doing the Lambeth Walk... Doesn't come much more London than this one, mate. It's over the water from the Houses of Parliament. It's a working class community with its own proud identity. It's market traders who looked after their own. It's where the Pearly Kings & Queens presided over their own special kingdom. And where the highest priest in the Church of England has his palace too. We'll bask in great views, hear about the triumph of the Londoner's life (and the trials of young Charlie Chaplin). And do the Lambeth Walk! Guided by Shaughan. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at Gabriel's Wharf, very near BlackfriarsTube.
 

EASTWARD HO TO WALTHAMSTOW
I Spy with my Little Eye a Secret Village!
 
Walthamstow? Well, it’s the market, innit? Some market. In short – short? – Walthamstow boasts Europe’s longest street market! But if you thought Walthamstow was just shopping and dogs, you're in for a couple of hours of well I nevers. Because late Victorian streets are by no means the whole story in E17. In short, inside Walthamstow – the effect is like those nesting Russian dolls – an ancient Essex village survives – and thrives! We're not talking one – we're talking two sets of almshouses and the half-timbered Ancient House. So, rest assured, we'll nook and cranny aplenty. But we'll also take in London’s finest municipal set piece, let alone end up at the home of Walthamstow’s most  famous son – no, not Brian Harvey but the poet, designer and socialist William Morris. Anything else? Yes – and it's hugely important: the walk is guided by a Walthamstowite! Local knowledge – you can't beat it.
 
To go on the Eastward Ho to Walthamstow! walk meet Steve just outside the "Bus station exit" of Walthamstow CentralTube stop. Walthamstow CentralTube is on the Victoria Line.
 

THE EDWARD PETHERBRIDGE THEATRELAND WALK

As one American lady put it, "my Gawd, it's like being shown around Manhattan by Dustin Hoffman." To which Edward - in his inimitable, dryly witty way - responded, "Dustin would be glad to know he's got that to fall back on to."

But seriously, it's a real treat this one. Edward Petherbridge is one of the great classical stage actors of our time - and it's tough to beat a wee stroll through his patch - theatreland - with him for a couple of hours of a Sunday morning (or very occasionally, of a Sunday afternoon). People fork out 40 quid to get a stalls seat to watch him in a West End show and here you can be at his elbow and indeed shoot the breeze with him for six quid. Or a fiver for concs. Forget hanging around outside the stage door in hopes of getting an autograph. That's for chumps. The real deal is to go on his walk. It's like joining Edward - and chilling - in the green room. Or like being shown around Manhattan by Dustin Hoffman!


"ENGLAND EXPECTS – The London of Admiral Nelson

This one's soaked in memories – and haunted by ghosts...

Who would have thought that, on this walk we should, so often, encounter the "Nelson Touch"?  Indoors and out we find memories of "The Hero",as he was simply known, from monuments to portraits, his homes  - with Lady Nelson or "Dearest Emma" - the Admiralty, the Navy Board, to his final resting-place in the heart of the City.

N.B., this is one of our "anniversary walks" - i.e., we try to run it on (or right around the time of) Trafalgar Day!

The starting point for the "England Expects" - The London of Admiral Nelson Walk is EmbankmentTube.

The Latecomers Catch-up Stop is in St. James' Street.


EPICUREAN, GOURMETS', FOODIES' LONDON
Here's a taster – written by the High Priestess of all things Foody-Londony – Ann herself. Well, three tasters. Because Ann's created three Foodies' London walks. Epicurean, Gourmets', Foodies' London takes in Borough Market (well, it's the centrepiece of the walk). Foodies' London – the West End gourmandises (so to speak) in, yup, the West End. And Ann's Pie Crust to Upper Crust walk wafts and taste buds its way along the Strand and in the Covent Garden area. Oh, and for dessert, she's created a Chocaholics' London walk. That one, alas, doesn't run publically. But people do, very understandably, book it privately. And as long as we're at it, by all means do take a look at the little film we made about the first of the Foodies' walks, Epicurean, Gourmets', Foodies' London. It's here.
 
 
EPICUREAN, GOURMETS', FOODIES' LONDON
 
What did Londoners eat in the Middle Ages? Why was fish almost always on the menu – and what happened to you if you decided a nice piece of pork was just what you fancied to eat in Lent?  This walk will tell you about our food history from the Middle Ages to the C20 – taking in along the way the London docks, the railways, and the first tin factory in the world.
 
And then there's Borough Market, now a world famous foodie destination, but selling fruit and veg before the Normans arrived here in 1066. You’ll want to end your walk by going shopping there,  and Ann – who likes nothing better than doing some research in your behalf – will give you lots of suggestions for stalls to visit. Award winning cheeses and the Platonic Ideal of the cheese sandwich, wonderful cakes, delicious chocolates at a bargain price – make sure you bring your shopping bags.
 
To go on the Epicurean, Gourmets', Foodies' London walk meet Ann just outside the Fish Street Hill exit of MonumentTube. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends very near London BridgeTube and Railway  Station
 
  
FOODIES LONDON – THE WEST END
 
So why is the Ritz called the Ritz? And what were diners served at the Ritz’s opening banquet?  Ann will be listing all 11 courses – so take your notebook and you can create your own grand banquet at home. This walk is a mix of London foodie history in the C19 and C20, with a generous helping of  small C21 independent shops selling wonderful food. We’ll be passing Fortnum and Mason – who have had many royal customers over the years, and claim to have invented the scotch egg! Another course will be the shop where Winston Churchill bought his cheese. Well, you get the idea. Yum.
 
Down secret alleyways in darkest Soho you’ll see  Italian family run delis, the ‘Armani of bread’, and the shop selling what one recent walker described as ‘the best chocolates in the world’. Plus foodie titbits – the firm that gave Lady Thatcher her first job, trying to put more air into ice cream. And how that delicious cup of coffee you drank the C19 may have had an extra ingredient – dried horse liver.  We end in London’s Chinatown where at the right time of year, and if you’re brave enough, you can buy some durian.
 
To go on the Foodies' London – The West End walk meet Ann just outside the Green Park exit of Green ParkTube. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends near Leicester SquareTube.
 
 
PIE CRUST TO UPPER CRUST
 
Take a walk along the Strand. 140 years ago the lower classes bought ham sandwiches in the street here, while the upper classes were eating the magnificent delights prepared for them at the Savoy Hotel by the king of chefs and chef of kings, Auguste Escoffier. You’ve eaten the peach Melba he created – Ann will give you some more of his glamorous peach recipes to run up at home. 
 
This walk covers London’s foodie history around the  Covent Garden district, best known nowadays for shopping and eating, but for centuries the biggest market in the country for fruit and veg. The first tv chef, the best selling cookery author of all time, the muffin man of Drury Lane all make an appearance, as does that iconic English dish, roast beef. We’ll avoid the crowd by taking some of the peaceful back streets and alleyways, and if we’re lucky we may end with a real cup of  English tea.   
 
To go on the Pie Crust to Upper Crust Foodies' London walk meet Ann just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at Twinings, the legendary old tea dealer's toward the eastern end of the Strand. (It's directly across the way from the Royal Courts of Justice and a three-minute walk from TempleTube.)  
 

FAIR MAIDS, FEMINISTS & PHILANTHROPISTS
Southwark's unsung, world-changing women is the fare for this Tour du Jour. Here's Guide Isobel's say: "I love this walk. I created it several years ago for Southwark Council to celebrate International Women's Day. It's a walk that corrects the balance. The stars wear petticoats, not pantaloons. Women may not appear as often as men in the history books, but that doesn't mean they've been sitting at home twiddling their thumbs. Far from it. Knitting up a storm more like. From princesses to prostitutes, they have made their mark and shaped the world we live in today. Some have relied their looks, others their wit. We'll trace the steps of the famous, the infamous, and the virtually unknown Fair Maids, Feminists and Philanthropists in this corner of Southwark. And don't get me wrong. It's as much about the place as it is the people. Southwark's very central but socially it's on the margin, on the edge. With a dizzying mix of urban building blocks: railway station, market, famous old theatre, gentrification, council blocks, time-honoured old London terraces, the works. It's honest London, roll up the sleeves and get on with it London, warts and all London, desperate London - makes for quite a buzz. No wonder it's been the forcing house for all those fair maids and philanthropists." N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends in Borough High Street, one minute from London BridgeTube and five minutes to London Bridge Railway Station.
 
To go on the Fair Maids, Feminists & Philanthropists walk meet Isobel outside the exit of SouthwarkTube.
 

FIVE HUNDRED YEARS OF BLACK LONDON
Black Londoners – famous lives: politicos and writers, servants and masters, wits and wenches, freaks and curios, haunts and habits...we'll be looking back at the first traces of the black presence in London and the continuing themes it evoked.

There was a growing black presence in London as far back as Tudor times (1485-1603) right the way through to the 1950s, when the post war labour shortage tempted thousands to come over from the West Indies, on to vibrant present day multi-cultural London where the black community plays an ever more vital role in the life the capital.

To go on the 500 Years of Black London Walk
meet Steve M. just outside
exit 4 of WestminsterTube.

The "Late Comers Catch-up Stop" is King Charles Street, Whitehall.
 
The walk will end near Covent GardenTube.


FOODIES' LONDON – The West End
What did Oscar Wilde have for lunch? Who bought their beef tea at Fortnums? Which king took a roast chicken to bed for a night time snack (and that's after 11 courses at dinner). For the answer to these and many other foodie questions – and for a visit to a street market and a foodie look at Chinatown, join Ann's walk looking at how Londoners dined downtown in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
 
To go on the Foodies' London – The West End walk meet Ann just outside the Green Park exit of Green ParkTube.  (Within snapping-our-fingers-distance-at-the-Head-Waiter of the Ritz Hotel, of course. And what gourmet dish was invented at the Ritz? Well, come and find out.)
 
N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends near Leicester SquareTube.
 

FROM EROS TO ETERNITY – Piccadilly's Rock Heritage

A city centre might not seem like a likely location for a geological field trip, but London is home to a wealth of exotic stones and clues to our geological past – you just need to know where to look. Starting at the Geological Society of London, UCL geologist Ruth will take you on a journey through the rocks of Piccadilly, from the granites of Scotland to the marbles of India, travelling through billion of years of geological time. We will find out about the architecture and building stones used on Piccadilly, how they are described and characterised, and the geological processes that have shaped our city. No previous knowledge of geology, or rock hammers required!

To go on the From Eros to Eternity walk meet Ruth just outside the north exit of Green ParkTube (which, incidentally, is just a, er, stone's throw away from The Geological Society of London). And, for the record, this walk is given in partnership with the Geological Society of London. Visit www.geolsoc.org.uk/earthscienceweek13 for more details.


 

GANGS OF THE EAST END
In USA say gangster...think Al Capone and Chicago.

In UK say gangster...think Kray Brothers and London's East End.
 
The three Kray brothers - twins Ronnie and Reggie and older brother Charlie - were the most infamous gangsters this side of the Atlantic since World War II. In the 1950s and 1960s London was awash with prostitution, gambling, fraud and protection rackets. There was serious money to be made and some very unsavoury characters - and the gangs they were associated with - got their snouts into the trough, big time. They had their own turf - their own "exclusive" territories (manors in their argot) - and the Kray brothers ruled the East End with razor-edged violence right-the-way through to murder.
 
So, step this way, ladies and gentlemen. Let's walk some of the meanest streets in London...byways where the knives of the Krays once glinted and many a villain passerby sported tell-tale scars between prominent cauliflower ears.
 
To go on The Gangs of the East End - Krays & Capers, Diamond Geezers & the Profession of Violence Walk meet Ed Glinert - the distinguished London historian - just outside ShoreditchTube.

For the Latecomers Catch-up Stop go north up Brick Lane into Back Street and then to St. Matthews Church.
 
The walk ends near WhitechapelTube.


GEORGE ORWELL – Big Brother Is Watching You
George Orwell’s 1984 is a bleak portrayal of a nightmare world in which a brutal totalitarian government keeps tabs on its citizens at all times, ruthlessly stamping out any form of dissent. Er, not quite. 1984 is one of the funniest novels ever written, the sharpest of satires, but its humour is so black, so subtle, it is missed by most readers. Yes, this is a most misunderstood book, but it won’t be if you come on the “Big Brother Is Watching You” walk
 
We meet outside Oxford StreetTube, Exit 6, telescreen or not
 
The George Orwell - Big Brother Is Watching You walk was created and is guided by the distinguished London historian, Ed Glinert.
 

GEORGE ORWELL'S LONDON
War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery...

Guided in the compelling spirit of 1984 this walk is through London's "West End" where Orwell worked, drank and gained inspiration. It's a rich repast - everything from the church which inspired the Ministry of Love in 1984 and Keep the Aspidistra Flying to the skyscraper which provided the model for the Ministry of Truth. And that's just the Orwell! Which is by way of saying, Ed's spiced the thing with a ton of accompanying material...in the shape of non-Orwellian dubious but intriguing outriders and delights!

The George Orwell's London Walk is guided by the distinguished London historian, Ed Glinert, the author of London: Exploring the Hidden Metropolis, The London Compendium, and A Literary Guide to London.

To go on the George Orwell's London Walk meet Ed
just outside exit 6 of Oxford Circus
Tube.

The walk ends near Russell SquareTube.
 


GOLDERS GREEN & HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB
Ah, yes. Karen's tour of little-known Hampstead Garden Suburb. It, in a word, is a homecoming for The London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year winner. A homecoming because conducting that walk Karen is leading a tour of the corner of London in which she was raised. Here she is…

“There are those – the great Peter Ackroyd among them – who would deny the existence of ‘village London’. A conceit, others say, concocted by estate agents to pass off downmarket areas as quaint and cultural.

And there’s a part of this Village London concept that I, too, would quibble with. The enclaves and quarters, the different 'manors' (to use Cockney parlance) and neighbourhoods are often too complex to be encapsulated by the boundaries of a mere village.

The famous square mile, the City of London is, despite its diminutive size, is obviously not a village – from some angles it even seems more than a mere City, coming over more as some independent city state. In turn, the myriad exoticisms of Soho could never fit into a village. That fabled quarter – also roughly a square mile – is more a Peoples’ Republic – i.e. a quarter that welcomes the peoples of the world of all creeds, colours and sexualities – than a village.

If you want a citadel, we’ve got one of those to spare here in London, too: the rarefied academic halls and spires of Harrow on the Hill, especially when approached on foot from the east via the Capital Ring, resembles nothing less than a stronghold. Viewed thus it’s little surprise that Harrow brought forth Churchill.

There’s one more for the 'more-than-a-village' category: Hampstead Garden Suburb. Conceived as a retreat from the onset of the urban sprawl in the early 20th-century, this deliberately well-hidden corner of north London is undeniably ‘villagey’ in both feel and look – and that, indeed, was one of the founding principles of the place, foremost in the mind of its creator Dame Henrietta Barnet.

The result – the quiet lanes, the proximity of the Heath, the veritable festival of English domestic architecture, the fruit tree in every garden, the world-renowned girls’ school, the parish church by Lutyens – surpasses even the original high ideals of its conservationist foundation.

More than a village, more even than London’s most beautiful village (for such a term is too subjective), Hampstead Garden Suburb is nothing less than the Model Village.

Such village perfection as was only imaginable in 1907 made real – and never yet surpassed.”
 
To go on the Local London – Golders Green & Hampstead Garden Suburb walk meet Karen at Golders GreenStation.
 
(David here, chiming in. I've been known to describe Karen as The Figurehead of the Good Ship London Walks. The figurehead because she was the guide we chose for the very first film we made of one of our walks. Chose her for the same reasons that Travel & Leisure gave her the ultimate accolade: "the world's best tour guide". Chose her for the same reasons the London Tourist Board crowned her with its Guide of the Year Award. Chose her, in short, because she's a spellbinding guide: soaringly intelligent, consummately professional, vivacious, great sense of humour, fun, warm – a real sparkler. When Karen guides it's rainbow, rainbow, rainbow. The plodders in this industry think a guided walk is a route and some memorisation. They don't get it. Aren't capable of getting it, let alone doing it. Virtuoso guides like Karen operate on a completely different level: they understand that a great guided walk is a composition – and a performance.)
 

GRACIOUS, GORGEOUS, GEORGIAN CANONBURYThe Pub Walk

Think of the oldest buildings in the capital: the Tower of London; Westminster Abbey (parts of, anyway); Temple Church, Guildhall…No one ever thinks of Canonbury Tower. Very few ever see it, unless they live in the area, and even then it’s not easy to spot. Less than 5 minutes walk from busy Highbury & Islington station, which tens of thousands use a day, is this ancient, bizarre and lofty structure. It truly is an astonishing sight to see a squat brick building evidently dating back to the early 16th century built so high. They didn’t do towers in those days. Yet Canonbury has Roman origins and was rebuilt in 1373 as well as 1520 and several times since. Why a tower? Prior Bolton, who was in charge of the place, had received astrological warnings of an imminent flood, so he built up and up. If it fell down, at least he would be dry in the meantime. He stocked it with food to last two months, but the flood never came.

Another reason for Canonbury Tower’s anonymity is that it’s not exactly open to the public. It is used as a research centre by the Freemasons. And that’s only one of the strange things connected with the place. It used to be the home of Francis Bacon, the 17th century Lord Chancellor and creator of the modern day notion of “science”. Some literary experts believe he may have written the plays attributed to his contemporary, one William Shakespeare. The Bard’s works allegedly containing cryptograms that suggest Bacon was the author. Bacon is also said to be the founder of modern English Freemasonry and was its first Grand Master.
In the 18th century the estate around the tower was built with the most elegant Palladian architecture. This new estate was given the exact dimensions of Solomon’s Temple – the outbuildings, the walls, the proportions…an exact replica. That’s a bit strange. It’s not the kind of thing that happens in the typical London synagogue, for instance.

Inside the Tower are grandiosely decorated rooms featuring much wood panelling. Behind one section lies a bricked up passage sealed up in the 1940s “because of the bad air”, as the caretaker told a group of American tourists. The passage leads to a tunnel which is believed to be connected to St Bartholomew’s Hospital (Bart’s) nearly two miles south.

Oh, I’m spoiling it all now. You’ll have to turn up to find out more. We’re meeting outside Highbury & Islington tube at 7.15 and will be visiting some cracking pubs en route so that at least you’ll be fuelled up if we get to sample that bad air or those dank tunnels.

Editor's note: yes, this one's another Ed Glinert "special".
 

THE GREATEST MULTICULTURAL CITY
Invaders & Immigrants, Exiles & Escapees
 
A city founded by invaders. A city framed and forged and peopled and patterned by successive waves of immigrants. A city of exiles and expats – fleeing, frightened, forced out, fed-up – at home in the world but not at home.  At home, finally, in London. A city of escapees – from poverty, oppression, tyranny, war, their own checkered past, or just plain insipidity.  The East End that this walk explores is the crucible of all that, the geographical and spiritual centre of “the greatest multicultural city.” Turn it which way you will – and turn which way you will – this is arguably the single most fascinating outpost of the London archipelago. It’s a neighbourhood marked – indeed, haunted – by the past, by the guttural sorrow of the refugee. By the past that’s right there in Whitechapel – but also by the pasts that these nascent Londoners, tens of thousands of them, left behind in far flung lands. The walk explores all of that – shows you the trace evidence that’s still there. And shows you the figure in the carpet – unpacks the reasons why this neighbourhood became “the crucible.” Guided by Molly

 To go on the Greatest Multicultural City walk meet Molly just outside the exit of WhitechapelTube.

 

 
HARROW ON THE HILL – Views & Vistas, Byron & Bygones
Say the words Harrow on the Hill and ask people to free associate and likely as not you'll get the following three gorgeous plumages coming into view: the HILL, the young WINSTON, and the famous SCHOOL. Those are rich pickings...a lot of time past and history to catch up on. So just to throw down some markers for you...the 12th-century church of St. Mary dominates - and graces - the area. Location, location, location...yes, it's perched high on Harrow Hill. The great event in Harrow's history was the founding of Harrow School in 1572. Winston Churchill and other British Prime Ministers were educated here. As were Lord Byron and untold legions of noblemen. And hats off as well to its mixture of tones. In short, the highlights are only part of the story. Which is by way of saying, Harrow's also an attractive, unspoilt, literary village - it was home to Matthew Arnold and Anthony Trollope - complete with village green and even a Court of Pie Powder!
 
To go on the Harrow on the Hill walk meet Sue just outside the Marylebone Road exit of Baker StreetTube.
 
To get to the "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" take the lowland exit out of Harrow on the Hill  Railway Station, walk to Harrow Road,
cross to the green and turn left.
 
The walk ends at Harrow on the Hill  Railway Station.

HELL'S KITCHEN – Murder, Mystics, Mayhem & Mosley
The shirts were black not brown. And - thank goodness - the outcome was different. But in other respects...well, welcome to the cauldron - to the sump. This was where Fascism strutted its stuff in London in the 1930s. Demogoguery and depression, anti-semitism and agitation, social tensions and pseudospeciation...it was the same witches' brew that was swirling through the nascent Third Reich. In the East End of London it came to a head in 1936. Mosley's Fascist black shirts decided to march through Cable Street come what may. Left wingers and local people manned the barricades to stop them. Serious fighting broke out. It was a tiny, terrible foretaste of what was to come. In short, it's hardly an exaggeration to say that the Battle of Cable street was the English-speaking people's first foray into the valley of the shadow of death that convulsed the world in the months and years ahead.
 
In short, this is another one of those London neighbourhoods where the "sense of place" is redolent of the past. And make no mistake the texture here isn't just 1930s newsreel. The Ratcliffe Highway Murders, riots at St. George's church, the custom of opium smoking in Shadwell, wave after wave of immigration...are all part of the warp and woof of London's Hell's Kitchen.
 
To go on the Hell's Kitchen - Murder, Mystics, Mayhem & Mosley walk meet Ed just outside the exit of Tower HillTube. 
 
The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is at St. Katherine's Dock,
just downstream from Tower Bridge.
 
The walk ends at Shadwell Station, which is on the Docklands Light Railway.

THE HIDDEN WEST END
There’s been a cover-up.
 
(And for an uncovering – here's a neat little photo essay of some of the "seasoning" you get on this walk.)
 
Someone doesn’t want us to know what once went on here in this, the most obscure triangle of central London. The tempestuous history of a London quarter that stretches back beyond the Plantagenets has been buried under a welter of anonymous Victoriana and scorched earth brutalism. What we want to know is: why?

To find out we must fall between the cracks of bureaucracy, between polite borough boundaries of modern Camden, Westminster and Holborn, Down there we will root around beneath theatres playing jolly musicals, behind the bars with their cocktails and doormen. We will end up knee-deep in poisoned gin and prostitution. We’ll rub shoulders with murderers and executioners. We’ll dig around that most lethal ground – the plague pit.
 

We’ve called it The Hidden West End – Gin City, Seven Deadly Dials, the Slum of Slums. On the map it’s called St Giles. St Giles is the patron saint of lepers. Lepers and outcasts.

I walked the route the other day and something odd hit me: no statues. Not a one. Odd, that, on a London Walk. Usually we end up with a list of the great and the good to rival the cast list of a blockbuster movie. Here, we compile a roster of the wild and the wicked. Not the sort that end up commemorated in bronze.

The Hidden West End – Gin City, the Seven Deadly Dials, the Slum of Slum. Meet Adam just outside exit 3 of Tottenham Court RoadTube.
 
And as long as we're at it, here's a bit of "backgrounder" voice. It's not Adam, it's me, David. Well, me, Dorothy George and various blasts from the past, the 18th century past.
 

HIE TO HIGH BARNET

Jean takes us to the top of that Cresta Run that swoops down to London Town - but, unlike Dick Whittington , we will not 'turn again' to the City, but to Chipping Barnet - the Market town - Barnet Fair, notorious Costermongers' Carnival;  Barnet's Battle, where the King of the White Rose overcame the Kingmaker of the Red; Barnet's Benevolence - almshouses for 'ancient women' so they be not "beggars, drunkards, backbiters,talebearers, scolds, thieves or witches". And not forgetting Boozy Barnet, another sobriquet that High Barnet acquired on its rollicking, roiling, royal way!

To go on the Hie to High Barnet Walk meet Jean at High BarnetTube.

The Latecomers Catch-up Stop  is up the hill, by the Red Lion Pub.

The Hie to High Barnet Walk ends back at High BarnetTube.


HIGHBURY FIELDS FOREVER
Starts with very fine rolling green spaces and Victorian villas. Mixes in an extraordinary cast of characters – and stuff. Ranging from port and sherry and the world's leading financial institution to Egyptology to crime novels to a life force "joyous to a pitch of bacchanalian vivacity" to (yes) a Ripper suspect to the theatre director who streaked across our skies like a comet to one of the great British and European intellecturals to... well, the place is a London garden of earthly delights (the Ripper and that one horrible suicide excepted). And that's not to mention Arsenal. Goes without saying that the walk will, er, tackle the subject of how and why a south London club from Woolwich came to north London, how its glorious art deco 1930s stadium – "The Home of Football" – became a residential complex. Will shine the torch of the stories behind the North Bank and the Clock End before arriving at The Emirates, the third largest football ground in England. Instant translation for North American readers: think Ebbetts Field and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Same sort of intimacy, same sort of size. Same sort of being part of the very fabric of an ordinary neighbourhood. Difference is Ebbetts Field was razed. Arsenal Stadium – like a proud old war veteran with an empty sleeve or two – is still with us. Guided by Rachel. 
 

HISTORIC BARNES
Barnes. Ah, Barnes. It'll steal your heart away. It's very much a down-by-the-river kinda place. A leafy countryside beauty kinda place. A charming village kinda place. You go there you've opened a magic casement on a different time and place...and the wonder of it of course - well, one of the wonders - is that you're still in London.
 
But let's narrow the focus. One of the walk's highlights is the house where Gustav Holst composed 'The Planets'...and from Planet suite to planet sweet - well, planet present day world. Which is by way of saying, along the way you get an ecologist's expert view on this most picturesque but fragile part of the planet during a visit to the area's wonderful Wetlands Centre.
 
To go on the Historic Barnes walk meet Janet at Waterloo Railway Station (we'll be going to Barnes Bridge  Station so we'll meet up by Platform 16 of Waterloo  Railway Station).
 
The "Latecomers Catchup Stop" is along the the riverside by the Thames...just by Barnes Bridge Station.
 

THE HUGUENOT SILK WEAVERS OF SPITALFIELDS
Riches to Rags
 
"Tell me where all past years are." I will tell you. Quite a few of them are here – in Georgian Spitalfields, Huguenot Spitalfields. More than tell you – show you. Show you streets little changed since 1750. Show you houses that are optical instruments that enable us to see what these remarkable people were all about. Show you fan lights and door hoods and foot scrapers and stone steps hollowed – hallowed? – with age. Show you wooden shutters – you can almost hear the sussurations of the chambermaids behind them. Show you the elongated weavers' windows at the top of the houses. That's the up close showing. There's also the step back showing. The vantage point that let's us see clarity and precision and honest workmanship and pride in getting it right – the right proportion of window to wall and street to sky. That's what you see.* Call it Georgian Spitalfields. But there's another register. It's the register you dial up when you call it Huguenot Spitalfields. It's the feel of the neighbourhood register. That it's wistful, burdened by a sense of the past. And the key that opens that floodgate is the walk's "theme" – the history of the Huguenots in this part of London. Who they were. Where they came from. Why they came here. The capital D difference they made. It's edifying stuff – let alone gripping stuff. The bookends of that history – persecuted and massacred in France, sweated and starving in the lower depths of Victorian London – are harrowing in the extreme. That narrative, this setting – well, put it this way: if this neighbourhood were a painting it'd be an Old Master. Guided by Sue.
 
*Some of what you see. A blurb about – let alone a walk through – Huguenot Spitalfields couldn't in good conscience "leave out" Christ Church, Spitalfields. As one of our best architectural "commentators" puts it, "Hawksmoor's biggest and grandest church...but not 'composed'; transmuted somewhere right down in the blood so that the whole building becomes a living idea...here is the faith, manifest."
 
To go on The Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields walk meet just outside the Bishopsgate exit of Liverpool StreetTube.
 

INSIDE LONDON'S FASHION SCENE
Savile Row to Stella McCartney
 
London. Paris. New York. Milan. The only places in the world where fashion happens at the very highest ampage. And it's our turn. Been happening this week. London's  Spring/Summer 2014 Fashion season. So, come on, let's head down that way – London catwalk(s) way – on today's Saturday Afternoon Tour du Jour. Step into the London of Giorgio Armani and Naomi Campbell and Dior and Yves Saint Laurent and Prada and Kate Moss  and Karl Lagerfeld and Alexander McQueen and Miranda Kerr and Louis Vuitton and Chanel and Balenciaga. The London of wall-to-wall celebrities and the world's greatest photographers and "Paris thin" and collections, couture and costumes and uber-on-trend and the new black and the effortlessly chic and impossibly expensive. To say nothing of hand models, foot models and models who can smile. And for that matter, how "they" see us (they call us "real people"). Let alone lift the lid on the unpleasant truths beneath the surface – the harrowing stuff that's not discussed or acknowledged publicly. How they keep "Paris thin", for example. All part of "the fashion process", part of the world of "the unreal people" – the one-in-a-million genetic types (you know: "tall, perfect skin, baby face, masses of blonde hair, body of a goddess, your basic nightmare"). As for "pre-requisites" – well, you have to like the female form and be partial to extremely beautiful things and astonishing luxury and fancy getting a peek behind a very exclusive London curtain and not be averse to seasoning the whole thing with a touch of "the serious" – fashion is, after all, one of the most important informants and signifiers of popular culture. Guided by Sue.
 
To go on the Inside London's Fashion Scene walk meet Sue just outside exit 6 of Oxford CircusTube.
 

INTO THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Ley Lines, Mystics and the Occult in the Unreal City
 
The nearest staging post to old London on the Great North Road, the Angel was an especially welcome stopover place for travellers at night when fields towards the City were dangerous and warranted armed patrols. And if you know where to go and what to look for...that "vibe" is still detectable. And there's an equally disturbing minor key here. Not to put too fine a point on it, the area's landscape and street names have occult resonances. So if you like your London weird...well, wizards, mystics, pagan sites, the imaginary birthplace of Frankenstein and the terminus for Hogwarts all feature in this spooky cocktail shaker of a walk. Guided by Jean.
 
The Into the Twilight Zone walk starts at AngelTube.

The Latecomers Catch-up Stop is in Pentonville Road.
 
The walk ends at King's CrossTube.


JANE AUSTEN'S LONDON
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We're not walking daintily so much as discerningly in the footsteps of the famous author who visited London as a young woman from her parish home in Hampshire. It's all "Sense and Sensibility". Not least because it takes in the area in which she set her London house parties in the famous novel. Some say her life was "notable" for its lack of events. Don't you believe it for a second. This after all was the lady who dropped her "Pride and Prejudice" at the invitation of a Prince (Regent). Ms. Austen – what would she have made of that linguistic fig leaf? – attended the beautiful St. James Piccadilly church (Wren's only London church to be built on an entirely new site, it became the prototype for most 18th-century urban churches). Like Ms. Austen, you'll "attend" it, too. Stepping in there you're stepping into her world. Stepping it and looking at it – and at the rest of her London – with the cool, sizing up and penetrating intelligence that she applied to "the town" and its inhabitants.

To explore Jane Austen's London meet Kevin
on the corner just outside the north exit of Green ParkTube.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is in Mayfair Place.

The walk ends near Covent GardenTube.

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JOHN MILTON'S LONDON
John Milton (1608-74). The greatest born and bred London writer of them all. Author of the greatest narrative poem in the language – Paradise Lost. What's more – lots more – Milton was no "ivory tower" writer. He played a major role in the most contentious period in this country's history. He was on "the winning side" (he was Secretary to Cromwell's Republican government) that became the "losing side". (For the record, said turn of events nearly cost him his life. Nearly cost him his life and nearly cost us his poetic masterpiece!) In this walk round the historic City of London we visit the sites of six of the houses he lived in, explore the evocative old neighbourhood where he went to ground after the Restoration (as I've already indicated, powerful people wanted him executed for his "treasons" but Charles II demurred, saying, "no, he's old and blind and full of fleas, let him be" – the which royal dismissal of the wolfish howls for "revenge" saved the greatest narrative poem in the language, saved Paradise Lost), the church where he married, etc. N.B. this is one of our Poetry-in-Performance walks. Which means – joy of joys – it's guided by the best possible guide: Lance aka "The Voice". So, yes, exactly what it says on the tin. Poetry in Motion. Poetry Afoot. You'll never "hear" these streets – let alone see them – quite the same again. Bottom line: there's no better way to explore John Milton's London. N.B. the walk ends at St Giles' Church, Cripplegate, which is very near BarbicanTube and MoorgateTube.
 

KARL MARX IN LONDON
Walkers of the World Unite!

MARCHING, MARKING, MARX'S LONDON! Forward comrades! Through the barriers and into the barrios (of the past)...thanks to the stories and many of the Marx sites (and sights!) in London, ending at the magnificent British Museum Reading Room where the great man wrote the world shaking Das Kapital. So where are we? And when? Well, Soho and Bloomsbury a century and more ago. Marx came to live in London's Soho in 1849; he died in 1883.
 
Today saucy Soho is best known for its sex industry. Not too many punters strollings its pavements are aware – or care – about its unique place in the history of political and revolutionary thought.
 
The walk takes in the place where he was asked to write the Communist Manifesto in 1850; the site of the German-owned hotel where he was thrown out for not paying the rent. Then on though chinatown to Dean Street where the Marx family lived for six years in what he described as "bourgeois misery"...many times reduced to living on bread and potatoes.
 
It was here in London that Marx found – in the the words of a leading German Socialist – what he was looking for: the "bricks and mortar" for his ideas in Das Kapital, which some say could only have been written in the London of his time. A time of booming raw capitalism which promoted the accumulation of great wealth – but into the bargain, the abject misery and poverty of the workers.
 
Mind you, that other great Soho denizen – the London poet and visionary artist William Blake -–got there first...and managed to light up that particular landscape – the corruption of inequality – in a way that didn't lead to the deaths of millions.
 
                                          Pity would be no more,
                                          If we did not make somebody Poor...
 
To go on the Karl Marx in London – Walkers of the World Unite! walk meet just outside the Subway 1 exit of Piccadilly CircusTube.
 
"The "Latecomers Catch-up Stops are: Glasshouse & Sherwood Street


KEEP SMILING THROUGH
In the summer of 1940 Winston Churchill said, "This is a war of unknown warriors – the entire population, men, women and children. The fronts are everywhere, The trenches are dug in the streets, Every village is fortified. Every road is barred. The front line runs through the factories. The workmen are soldiers with different weapons but the same courage."

In her book The People's War, Juliet Gardiner wrote, to "dig allotments, pin up blackout, make do and mend, give up iron railings, saucepans and tin baths for munitions, billet troops and evacuees, queue for hours, feed a family on nothing recognisable, keep them warm with more dust than coal, clothe them on few coupons" and above all 'Keep Smiling Through', this was fighting for Victory at home.

That is what this walk is all about in an area which, as they say, "caught a packet" from the Luftwaffe. So dig out your uniforms and your 40s gear, bring your gas masks and, when you have walked the walk and sung the songs visit the 1940s Exhibition in The Imperial War Museum where the tour ends.

The meeting point for the Keep Smiling Through walk is OvalTube.
 
The walk ends near Lambeth NorthTube. 
 

THE LEIGHTON HOUSE TOUR
It's London's most beguiling artistic interior. The house – and the story – it's like a precious gem. Turn it which way you will every facet fascinates. Consider the trajectory: from modest villa to the command centre for the conduct of the art life of the nation. Consider the jaw-dropping Arab Hall extension, loosely modelled on the Norman-Arabic palace La Zisa in Palermo. Consider the artistic community that sprang up around the house. Consider the artist himself: his elevation to the peerage, the first artist ever to be so treated. Consider his work: his meditations on female sexual allure, e.g. Explorations that are all the more remarkable for being carried out by one who was largely indifferent to that mechanism! Special place. Special tour. It'll engross you. And enlarge your understanding. Make it both more spacious and fuller. Some Tour du Jour, wouldn't you say! Guided by art historian Molly. N.B. there's a £5 admission charge to the house. The Leighton House tour takes about two hours. High Street KensingtonTube is just a few minutes' walk away.
 

LIMEHOUSE & OLD CHINA TOWN – Mysteries of the Orient
The Mysteries of the Orient in London's dockland; the ghostly lit mean streets; the opium dens and the damp causeway that slinks its way from West India Dock Road to the dark dank waters beyond.

London's Chinese community first settled here in the 18th-century. And if that sounds ho-hum think again, ladies and gentlemen. Because we're talking about a colony of sailors who built up Chinatown and ran the exotic legendary opium and gambling dens for their compatriots. Consider the street names: Ming Street, Canton Street, Pekin Street, Nankin Street. What's in a name? Well, hold onto your hats folks because London doesn't get any more exotic than this.

To go on the Limehouse & Old China Town walk meet your guide - Ed Glinert, the distinguished London historian (he's the author of London: Exploring the Hidden Metropolis, The London Compendium, and A Literary Guide to London) - just outside the main exit (NOT the Bank Street exit) of Canary WharfTube.

There's no "Latercomers Catch-up Stop" on this one...because if you're late we're going to be well nigh impossible to find!

The walk ends near Limehouse station. It's part of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) system, which, if you think about it, makes for an almost dizzying transformation: from 18th-century opium dens to cutting edge 21st-century London. The DLR is a completely automated, elevated whoosh - with lots of Wow! factor - through the largest urban redevelopment in Europe. And if you've got a 2-Zone Travel Card, well it's a "ticket to ride" on the DLR.


LONDON ON FILM - from James Bond to Bridget Jones
Alec Guinness and a daring escape from the police in The Lavender Hill Mob. John Wayne starting a fight in a famous pub in Brannigan. The scene of an audacious robbery by the original League of Gentlemen in 1960. Where Sophia Loren (or at least, her stunt double) jumped into the Thames in The Millionairess. Bridget Jones’ flat, and just how far she ran through the snow in her knickers… Where James Bond chased downriver and Sherlock Holmes pursued Jack the Ripper. The church that provided the scene for a (literally) fairytale wedding in The Slipper and the Rose. The unlikely place where Stanley Holloway began his career, long before My Fair Lady. The dramatic opening of one classic Hitchcock, and the conclusion of another. This walk is an enthusiastic celebration of London movie locations, following in the footsteps of Peter Sellers, Jack Hawkins, Sharon Stone, Uma Thurman, Eric Idle, Ralph Fiennes and a host of others. Oh, and not forgetting how Harry Potter found his way to Diagon Alley…
 
To go on the London on Film - from  James Bond to Bridget Jones walk meet the soaringly talented Richard IV outside exit 3 (by the Wellington statue) of BankTube Stop.
 
The "Latecomers' Catch-up Stop" is at the back of the Royal Exchange - along Cornhill, outside the Mont Blanc shop.
 
The walk ends near London BridgeTube Stop.
 

LONDON & THE FIRST WORLD WAR Let's not forget...!
"The Great War of 1914-1918 lies like a band of scorched earth dividing that time from ours" (Barbara Tuchman). "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime" (Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, as he looked from a Foreign Office window at the sunset over St. James's Park on August 3rd, 1914). This walk goes back there. To that window across from St. James's Park. To Grey's house. To where other main actors lived. To where they strove. And soul-searched. To where the men who died – that ghostly column – marches on and on. To the literal* scars that London bears to this day. And the figurative scars. The memorials – some of them almost hidden, all of them poignant – scattered like poppy petals across London. Connecting the dots the way they do, Kim, David R. and Rex limn the apocalypse that shaped our world. *shrapnel damage
 
To go on the London & The First World War walk meet Rex, Kim or David R. just outside the Broadway/Westminster Abbey exit of  St. James's ParkTube.

 
 
THE LONDON BY GASLIGHT PUB WALK

Palaces & Pubs; Gaslit Lanes & Theatreland;
Phantoms & Flashbulb Moments*

This is a great pub walk. It's vintage London, vortex London. It's "downtown" at its best. It's 18th-century gas-lit lanes and an ancient square and the oldest theatre in London. It's tucked-away, much-loved - and very old - pubs. It's where Londoners come to play. It's where visitors searching for the holy grail of Newsweek's "coolest city on earth" come closest to finding it. It's where high spirits and history rhyme. It's where the heart of this great city beats. It's where, more than anywhere else, you're going to feel London in your veins. (Food is available.) Guided by Richard III or Fiona.
*E.G., raising a glass - which we'll do - with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House!
 

The meeting point for The London by Gaslight Pub Walk is just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube.

EmbankmentTube is on
theCircle
, Bakerloo, District & Northern Lines


THE LONDON WALL WALK – Londinium to Lundenwic to Lundonburgh
And for a fanfare for this Tour du Jour how about these four words: "If walls could speak." Well, this wall does. When you learn how to "read" it, that is. Why and where and when and how it was built. What its different courses and strata are. They tell us as much about a city and its history as the rings of a tree speak of its age and what it's lived through. And to ask – and answer – other questions is to open up still more vistas. Where's the stone from? How'd they get it here? What does a mighty stone wall girdling a quarry-less city proclaim about it – and the people who built it? Wall (including that "unknown" bit – unknown because it's under ground), gates, fort, extramural London, the works – to walk it is to get a unique feel for London and its history. Guided by Isobel. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at St. Botolph's Aldersgate, a five minute walk from St. Paul'sTube.
 
To go on the London Wall walk meet just outside the exit of Tower HillTube.
 

LONDON'S LITERARY GOLDEN MILE
Exactly what it says on the tin. Great writers and their London haunts. 'Tis of thee we sing on this Tour du Jour. To say nothing of their deliciously messy lives! The scrapes – financial, literary, social, sexual, etc. – they got into. The walk ends, appropriately enough, with a tour of the magnificent new British Library. Guided by Alison. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends very near a congeries of tube and rail stations: King's Cross, Euston, St. Pancras and Euston SquareTube.  
 
To go on the London's Literary Golden Mile walk meet Alison just outside the exit of Warren StreetTube.
 

LONDON'S OLD WATERFRONT – Tower of London to the Prospect of Whitby
The Tower of London tableau to the Prospect of Whitby (pub and prospect). As contrasts go that one's a carnival dare-devil ride. Except that it's real, it's London. A running jump from the politeness and modernity of the City and the "heritage" of the Tower straight into London's old sailor town. Into a twisting and sulking riverside street. Into London's saltiest history. Into a composition Whistler loved to paint. Into a pub with a history as vivid as a detective story. Into a couple of others that are its mates. Where's this London? It's down marina way, that's where. Ship basin way. Timber-framed brewery building way. Georgian riverside houses way. Old warehouses way. Towering, curving brick walls way. Down river stairs way. Down where the alleys are cobblestoned. And dark. Down where the river smells can be tasted. Down where the past crouches in patches of sepulchral silence and dramatic stygian dimness – and pub lamps blaze out a welcome. Down where the muddy grandeur of the Thames is the bass line. And the amen. Guided by Stephen.
 
To go on the London's Old Waterfront Pub Walk meet just outside the exit of Tower HillTube.
 

LONDON'S SECRET WAR
Bunkers, Blimps & Bombs
 
Like a giant iceberg, there's so much of "government London" that's below the surface. during the World War II blitz and bombing raids, government had to be able to operate underground if necessary in Whitehall and Westminster.
 
Not to put too fine a point on it, this area's honeycombed with secret passages to secret bunkers; some are fact, some are still Top Secret and shrouded in myster; some are probably fiction. But there's nothing fictional about the big government bunker under Whitehall and the surrounding area. there's even a so called Royal Family Escape Tunnel under St. James's Park from Buckingham Palace to the Downing Street area. It was to be put into use should enemy soldiers ever come calling between 1939-45.
 
And here's still more information about this one...
 
The London' Secret War walk starts at
TempleTube.

LONDON'S WAR AGAINST TERROR
Lurking around every corner, hiding under every street, listening on every phone line is a secret world of spooks, spies, saboteurs and subversives. Those on the wrong side of the War against Terror. The capital is full of them, or at least stories about them, as you'll discover on this walk.
 
The walk, which forms up outside the Thistle Hotel right by Charing CrossTube, is led by a man who has read too many dodgy dossiers labelled “Top Secret! Confidential!” and watched too many films with soundtrack supplied by John Barry. You WILL be taken to the Nazis’ embassy on the Mall to hear how the German ambassador was assassinated on Hitler’s orders; to a site above the government’s not-so-secret Pindar bunker; to the Whitehall office where the government established the “Flying Saucer Working Party”; and to the early home of MI6 where the director-general used to stab his wooden leg with a pen-knife to test the nerve of potential recruits.

And even when you head of home your mission may not be over. If you take the Victoria Line you will be using a route built secretly by the government to link major strategic sites across the capital. Above the line stands the new home of MI6, Buckingham Place, the Queen’s war-time bunker and … [the rest of this communication has been inexorably censored for reasons of security. Only those who need to know, or those willing to part with nine pounds* may proceed …]
 
*Or the "concessionary sevener".
 
The London's War Against Terror London Walk has been created by – and is guided by – the distinguished London historian Ed Glinert.
 

THE LOST WORLD OF THE RIVER FLEET
River or sewer? Through the centuries the historic Fleet has never been quite sure. It's one of the capital's underground rivers. Well, it's underground today...but in the middle ages they were sailing boats up it as far as King's Cross. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Fleet is London's second most important river. Indeed, it's a large part of the reason London is where it is! It rises in North London at Kenwood and Hampstead ponds and flows down to the Thames.

This walk is part dowsing, part water-witching, part urban geography. It goes without saying that we'll discover the above-ground clues as to where the river now flows beneath the surface. We'll discover to dis-cover. We'll see what's there today...and see what was there. Because Sue's going to "summon up spirits from the vasty deep" of London's history. You'll hear tales about the many famous buildings - priories, prisons, gardens, a market, a nunnery, and water wells - along the Fleet's banks. And they're not just "free floating" tales. Which is by way of saying, those structures weren't there by chance. By walk's end you'll understand the "whys" as well as the "wheres" and "whats". You'll have the Fleet in your veins...the pulse of centuries. You'll be able to navigate - surely the mot juste - past those priories, prisons, gardens, water wells, etc. And understand how they relate to this critically important river in London's history. There's more. Getting really down and dirty we'll discover why the Fleet is buried beneath the surface and how it makes its presence felt even today. All told it's a mucky, murky tale - and all the more fascinating for being so!

To go on The Lost World of the River Fleet walk meet Sue just outide BlackfriarsTube.


THE MARTYRDOM OF CHARLES I
The anniversary walk...
 
He stepped out onto the scaffolding. Surveyed the huge crowd. Said a few words. Knelt down and put his head on the block. A back swing. A swoosh. The thud of an axe. A thud that ended absolute monarchy in this country for ever afterward. It's the climax of a story that's got what Nabokov called shamanstvo – enchanter-quality. This is why one goes on walking tours with a great guide. To see these places now but be there then through the shamanstvo of the story telling. Think of the room Charles I had stepped from out onto that scaffolding: the Banqueting Hall, with its glorious Reubens ceiling symbolising the Divine Right of the Stuarts to reign as God's annointed rulers. Think of the axeman holding up the king's head, like a lantern. Holding it up by its hair. For the crowd to see. Think of the back story. Of Raleigh's execution 30 years earlier. Think of James I signing Raleigh's death warrant, little knowing that in putting his signature on that piece of parchment he was simultaneously signing the death warrant of his own son. Think of Raleigh's ghost following the Stuarts to the scaffolding. Think of Charles I, the morning of his execution, asking for two shirts because it was a cold January day and he didn't want the spectators to think he was shivering from fear. Think of his last walk. The armed guards escorting him from St. James's Palace across St. James's Park to the Banqueting Hall. To that scaffolding. To eternity. His dog Rogue gambolling after him, as if it was just another walk in the park. Think of the Civil War – of Roundheads and Cavaliers. Of the Restoration. Of what went round coming round after the Restoration – what happened to Harrison and the other regicides after the Restoration. So, yes, this is the Martyrdom of Charles I, the Anniversary Walk. It goes over the ground – so to speak – looks at the life and death of "the martyred king". And at his – and our – Westminster during those world turned upside down years. Guided by Kevin.
 
To go on The Martyrdom of Charles I – the Anniversary Walk meet just outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube.
 

MAYFAIR – The Champagne & Caviar of London Walks
Ahhhhh! This Mayfair walk. It's a marriage made in heaven: "the best address in London" and a bon vivant of a guide – a boulevardier and a place where Old Masters and old money, Rolls Royces and glamour, titles and butlers are par for the course. It's hob-nobbing with knobs on it – because Mayfair's been home to Admiral Nelson (and his mistress Lady Emma Hamilton), Clive of India, Disraeli, Handel, Florence Nightingale, Peter Sellers, Jimi Hendrix, Dodi Fayed, and the Earl Mountbatten, to name but a few. And the go figure factor? Try this for size. The parallelogram of purses boasts London's best village within a village: Shepherd Market, a charming little nest of alleys that hasn't lost a jot of its 18th-century scale and village atmosphere, let alone its raffishness. Guided by Peter. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends near Bond StreetTube.
 
To go on the Mayfair walk meet Peter just outside the north exit (on the corner) of Green ParkTube.
 

MEDIAEVAL LONDON
"When the world [and London] were half a thousand years younger
all events had much sharper outlines than now.
 
"The distance between sadness and joy, between good and bad fortune, seemed to be much greater than for us; every experience had that degree of directness and absoluteness that joy and sadness still have in the mind of a child....There was less relief available for misfortune and for sickness; they came in a more fearful and more painful way. Sickeness contrasted more strongly with health. The cutting cold and the dreaded darkness of winter were more concrete evils. Honour and wealth were enjoyed more fervently and greedily because they contrasted still more than now with lamentable poverty. A fur-lined robe of office, a bright fire in the oven, drink and jest, and a soft bed possessed a high value for enjoyment that would be inconceivable in the 21st century.

"All things in life had about them something glitteringly and cruelly public. The lepers, shaking their rattles and holding processions, put their deformities openly on display. Every estate, order, and craft could be recognized by its dress. The notables, never appearing without the ostentatious display of their weapons and liveried
servants, inspired awe and envy. The administration of justice, the sales of goods, weddings and funerals--all announced themselves through processions, shouts, lamentations and music. The lover carried the emblem of his lady, the member the insignia of his fraternity, the party the colours and coat of arms of its lord.
 
"In their external appearance, too, town and countryside displayed the same contrast and colour. The city did not dissipate, as do our cities, into carelessly fashioned, ugly factories [and shopping malls] and monotonous country homes, but, enclosed by its walls, presented a completely rounded picture that included its innumerable protruding towers. No matter how high and weighty the stone houses of the noblemen or merchants may have been churches with their proudly rising masses of stone, dominated the city silhouettes.
 
 
 
"Just as the contrast between summer and winter was stronger than in our present lives, so was the difference between light and dark, quiet and noise. The modern city hardly knows pure darkness or true silence anymore, nor does it know the effect of a single small light or that of a lonely distant shout."
 
Okay, that's enough mood music. Here's some nuts and bolts. This corker of a walk explores - and explains - how the City is still fundamentally mediaeval in its street plan (and indeed its street names), its government, its ceremonies, its traditions. And how it's all underpinned by the power of the great mediaeval livery companies.

Highlights includes the mediaeval wall; the Tower of London; mediaeval churches; mediaeval livery companies (and their delightful traditions); the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and Aldermen; traces of mediaeval wharves; reminders of the importance of fish in a Catholic City.
 
It's heady stuff; packs a lot of wallop. In essence we're looking at the skull beneath the skin. Or - if you prefer - think of what grave goods can tell us about, say, a 6th-century Anglo-Saxon...or what a tree ring can tell us about how hard a certain winter was ages ago.

And to get under the skin of the City - so apparently modern today and bristling with wealth - to see how it still rests on mediaeval foundations and has always been shaped by commercial imperatives...well, it'll rewire you. The place will never look the same.
 


To go on the Mediaeval London walk
meet Sue just outside Tower HillTube.  
 
The "Latecomers Catch-Up Stop" is in Coopers Row, by the stunning section of Roman and Mediaeval London Wall at the back of the Grand Hotel.

The Mediaeval London walk ends near St. Paul'sTube.


MEDICAL LONDON AT ITS GRANDEST
Harley Street & the King's Speech, Brass Plates & Botox
 
Ah, yes. This neighbourhood. And its patients. And, yes, its specialists. The Old Master - Betjeman - nailed it. Heavy mahogany doors. Wrought-iron screens. Rich, sympathetic, discreet (the sound they make when they shut). Eighteenth-century scene. Edwardian faience adornment. Brick-built houses that are lofty and calm. Chimneys steady against the mackerel sky. The iron knob of this or that palisade, so cold to the touch. Our specialist, Dr. Barry, x-rays through those heavy mahogany doors. Here are some of the encounters, some of the problems he probes. And the pertinent personnel – patients and physicians. JFK and Addison's. Lord Lister. Charles Wheatstone and the concertina stethoscope. Dame Marie Tempest. Lord Moran (Winston Churchill's doctor). Florence Nightingale. Emperor Fritz and throat cancer. Treeves and the Elephant Man. Ronald Ross and Malaria. Turner. Princess Anne. The Queen Mother. Field Marshal Lord Montgomery. Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. To say nothing of the Society Osteopath whose patients included Averell Harriman, Paul Getty, King Peter of Yugoslavia, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra and Danny Kaye. And whose friendships ranged from the richest man in Britain to the dark-haired declasse beauty brought up in converted railway carriage who shared her favours with a Russian military attache and the British Secretary of State for War and thereby brought down a government. Great walk. And – always on our medical London Walks – the big plus: they’re guided by a doctor, a Public Health Physician. Guided by Dr. Barry.
 
To go on the Medical London At Its Grandest walk meet Barry just outside the exit of Regent's ParkTube.
 
The Latecomer's Catch-up Stop is the north end of Portland Place. The walk ends at Cavendish Square, a three-minute walk from Oxford CircusTube. 
 

MEDICAL SOUTHWARK – Sawbones to Shard

Anyone up for making the rounds with Dr. Barry in Southwark? Grab your stethoscope and white coat and let’s go. It’s a tale – and trail – of rhino horns and the King’s Evil and scurvy limeys and barber surgeons and London’s only forensic medicine museum and a mock below knee amputation performed in the Old Operating Theatre (the world’s only surviving Georgian operating theatre). And what a setting. Medical districts don’t come any older. Or more distinguished. Let alone more fun and fascinating. Bears repeating: Barry’s making the rounds today in Southwark, London’s doppelganger on the other side of the river. It’s as old as London itself. So, yes, there’s been medical mayhem, malpractice and molestation going on here for 2,000 years. That’s the rough. But there are plenty of diamonds here as well. Inspirational work, important work, breakthrough work. It’s a rich repast, a medical mix to make merry in. What’s not to like about a rough and ready London neighbourhood that was famous for prisons and brothels and inns and theatres and hospitals. One of which – one of the hospitals that is – goes back nearly 1,000 years. In "the good old days” the place was run by the Matron, the Clerk and the Hospitaler, with the surgeon listed below the shoemaker. There was no physician on the staff until 1566. Difficult patients were confined in the stocks and nurses were disciplined at the whipping post. He who did not rise for church on Sunday got no dinner. Well, you get the idea. Fun walk. Fascinating area. And – always on our medical London Walks – the big plus: they’re guided by a doctor, a Public Health Physician.

 
To go on the Medical SouthwarkSawbones to Shard walk meet Dr. Barry just outside the Fish Street Hill exit of MonumentTube.
 

The walk ends at the Old Operating Theatre* in St. Thomas' Street, just round the corner from London BridgeTube (and Railway) Station.

*There's a small admission charge for the Old Operating Theatre visit.

 

MERRIE ISLINGTON
Ah, Islington! No question about it, there's one special buzz here. And it's not just that this is one of the trendiest parts of London. It's also the rustle of the past. And little wonder, because Islington has seen it all. London lineages don't come much older. Or prouder. How far back do you want to go? How's an Anglo-Saxon village grab you? St. Mary's is 7th century. And the wonders the whirligig of time works – because it was at St. Mary's that John Wesley was kicked out for daring to suggest that the souls of the rich were no better than the souls of the poor! God knows what historical zeitgeist Wesley may have tapped into just then – thoughts of "good shepherding" and Gadarene Swine might well have come naturally to him in Islington because the place grew up around the oldest droving route in the world. What must it have been like? Thousands of bellowing cattle and clacking geese and squealing porkers. And drovers bearing news and gossip. And constant fresh milk and cream for London markets. And buzz past and buzz present because when they reached the old Angel Inn – near where we start – they knew they were on the threshold of London – almost there! Their final destinatioin was of course Smithfield. Think of Dickens's Oliver Twist – those fateful words: "where London begins". And right away – a quintessential London Walks detail: the pavements of Upper Street – the main street – were raised to protect passers-by from the churning mud. And – quick intake of breath here, because history has just laid its gloved hand on your shoulder – look, look there... look at those raised pavements, raised way up they are. And just like that you're into a "double vision" moment: you're looking at trendy, cutting edge, 21st century Upper Street but you're simultaneously also seeing, as if, in a magic lantern...16th and 17th and 18th and 19th century Upper Street and wave upon wave of drovers and their beasts. How did Shakespeare put it? "Like as the waves make toward the pebbled shore, so do our minutes hasten to their end, each changing place with that which goes before...all forward do contend." So, yes, our turn now to "do" Merrie Islington.

And doobie doobie do, why not look this way. What's this? Rather more agreeable, isn't it? It's a village whose history is "writ in water". Canals and the 17th century New River carrying fresh water to London. And a village whose springs and wells gave rise to fashionable tea gardens and theatres. 

Which is by way of saying, Islington perhaps more than any other London village has danced the dance of seven veils. And one of its most brilliant veils was the "backgarden playground of London". Or you can think of – indeed  behold – the village green, with the famous Collins Music Hall, where Charlies Chaplin, Tommy Trinder and Marie Lloyd performed. A venue that reverberated across the theatrical ages...because Olivier drew on it for his performance in The Entertainer.

The show goes on. Because here's the King's Head theatre pub, arguably the most important fringe theatre in London. It was the King's Head that revived the idea of a pub and dining theatre. Funky doesn't come any more star-dusted than the King's Head: Hugh Grant, Tom Stopard, Victoria Wood, John Hurt, Sheila Hancock, London Walks' Mary...they all worked their magic here. And what's not to love about a pub where the takings are still rung up in pounds, shillings and pence? 

What else? Well let's fan through the deck: there's the Regent's Canal, lined with narrow boats; there's the antiques market; there's the toniest restaurants in town, let alone Tony's and Gordo's little tete-a-teterie; there's – more whirligig this! – a milieu that can embrace, across just a decade or so, the red flag flying from the Town Hall to million pound properties; there's the favoured home and haunts of writers and celebs such as Stephen Fry and Boris Johnson and Salmon Rushdie. No surprise that, since the likes of Joe Orton, Evelyn Waugh, George Orwell and Charles and Mary Lamb also put down here.

Well, you get the idea – this is one special London village.

To go on the Merrie Islington walk meet Sue
just outside the exit of AngelTube.

For the Latecomers Catch Up stop, come out of AngelTube, turn right, go (north) up Upper Street,  turn right along Duncan Street and stop at the junction of Colebrooke Row.

The walk ends near Highbury & IslingtonTube.


THE MONOPOLY WALK – Advance to Mayfair
Delightful. Quirky. Original. Those are the watchwords for this Tour du Jour. And you can stir into the Delightful, Quirky and Original mix a pinch of very pleasing Nostalgia and Fond Childhood Memories. Which is by way of saying, for many of us our first knowledge of the street names of London comes from a childhood game of Monopoly. And if you've ever wondered how and why those particular streets were chosen – well, this walk's your Get Out of the Jail of Ignorance card. It's a game you're all going to win. Indeed, every roll of the dice is a winner. They're loaded, you see. They get us to the right property every single time and they're loaded with great information. One roll, for example, takes us to a certain small dead end off Piccadilly and sheds light on why it made it onto the board yet great thoroughfares didn't. Another cracks the mystery of why we have two of the more obscure London stations on the board. Another roll yields up just where are the modern versions of the Waterworks and the Electric Company. It's good fun. A grown-up game of Monopoly where we're the pieces and the real London's the board and Steven's in "complete" control of the dice and the game's exciting because of where we go and what we find out. Bottom line: a walk that goes through familiar territory but looks at it in a whole new way. Advance to Mayfair indeed. 
 
To Advance to Mayfair – i.e.,  go on The Monopoly Walk – meet Stephen just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube.
 

MR. PENTON'S "VILLE"
Healing Wells to Filthy McNasty's
 
Pentonville is widely known to Londoners for its prison - but happily we won't be going there today! Instead with a large slice of Memory Lane and a bundle of excellent stories we'll explore some of the lesser known parts of Pentonville. The overall character of any area is the sum of the detail and in this area - one of London's earliest planned suburbs - it was first laid out in 1773! - there's no shortage of fascinating detail: a secret garden, tales of many a Victorian eccentric, a village street with antique pharmacy, 18th-century pleasure gardens, England's greatest clown and hopefully even a peek inside a very special oak panelled 17th-century courtroom. And along the way there'll be three cheers for the far sighted Hugh Myddleton, first Baronet member of the English Parliament, and his great liquid legacy to Londoners. YOUR VERY GOOD HEALTH, SIR! Guided by Jean or Hilary.
 
The Mr. Penton's "Ville" -
Healing Wells to Filthy McNasty's
walk starts at AngelTube.

The Latecomers Catch-up Stop is by the Tom Paine memorial, at the back of AngelTube.

MURDER MOST FOUL – Pleasurably Horrible
"You never seem to get a good murder nowadays." So we're going back to our great period in murder – our Elizabethan period, so to speak. Back to heinousness in high places and slaughter at the Savoy and torsos in trunks and heads in hat boxes and departures down the drain. Back to murderers whose reputation has stood the test of time. Back to depraved deeds which have given passels of pleasure to the British public. Back to that potent English cocktail of sex and strong emotions and respectability and all-prevailing hypocrisy. Guided by Sue
 
To go on the Murder Most Foul walk meet just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube.
 

MURDER IN STORE
Heroes, Villains & Retail Tycoon in Retroland
 
Dearie me, the goings-on in the elegant squares and terraces of C19 Stuccoland London! Head in there with the Kay Scarpetta of London Walks – two hours of delectable discoveries with Ann in Retroland – and you'll never look at Bayswater quite the same. Not after meeting the pioneer lady aviator who took Paris frocks in her luggage, the writer on nature whose memorial was tarred and feathered, the social reformer you should remember every time you post a letter. Not to mention murder, tales of the Titanic, and the rise and fall of London's first retail tycoon. Guided by Ann.
 
To go on the Murder in Store walk meet Ann just outside the exit of QueenswayTube.
 

MUSICAL LONDON – Baroque to Rock
                            Here's your Chopin Liszt!
                            Seeking Haydn?
                            Want a handle on Handel?
                            Bop or Hip Hop?
 
Stroll through London's West End with Corinna and discover five centuries of music and musicians, past and present. See theatres, churches, concert halls and dwelling where the chrysalis for Puccini's Butterfly began, where Beatlemania started and where music halls of yesteryear still ring with modern musicals.
 
Hear where 16th-century Tallis flourished and Tavener follows on today, where Mozart's virtuosity shone aged seven, where Mick Jagger still rolls on and Elton John sings for the nation. Find out where opera and operettas make and break aspiring singers, where dancing feet are shod and where Haydn and Handel lived and composed.
 
Find out where Queen Victoria's parrot had to go, what Elgar's dog did, where sopranos sparred and flocks of sparrows took flight. Your personal guide to your imagination - soaring on wings of song - is Corinna. She's a West End and Royal National Theatre actress who sings as well (and into the bargain is a professionally qualified City of London guide). Enthused (it's a great word, enthused...its Greek root means "breathed into by God") by music, with luck she'll sing you a snatch or two...
 
To go on the Musical London - Baroque to Rock walk meet Corinna just outside the exit of Leicester SquareTube. You want the exit that's right by Wyndham's Theatre.
 
The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is along St. Martin's Lane (toward Trafalgar Square).
 
The walk ends at the Handel House Museum - aka Jimmy Hendrix's pad. Which is close to both Oxford CircusTube and Bond StreetTube.
 

NAUGHTY NINETIES
Costers, Cockneys & Champagne
 
A saunter back to Great Granddad's London. He may have been a "swell", a "masher", a "Stage Door Johnnie" or a "Champagne Charlie" – or indeed a coal-heaver, a cobbler or a cats'-meat man. Whatever he was, he knew how to live – just like "good old Teddie", the Prince of Wales himself at Rules, Romano's or the Empire Promenade. Knew how to turn his working-class worries into things of fun at the Music Hall, where the songs mirrored his life. "Extraordinary how potent cheap music is, "don't let them die", come along and "sing us one of the old ones" with Jean.
 

NOT FIT FOR A PIG TO LIVE IN
"The whole Marylebone and Paddington border was like the Wild West, full of turbulent building, fighting navvies living in temporary shacks giving each other battle every Saturday night, chicken-stealing and drink." Yet here were the homes of the good and the great,  Mrs Siddons, William Pitt, the Landseers, Browning George Eliot and Dickens.  The Prince Regent's Park and Thomas Lord's Cricket Ground divided the gentry from the unwashed – the "undeserving poor" of the likes of Liza Doolittle's dustman father.
 
A certain London Walks guide has ancestors with a foot in both camps! Meet Edgware RoadTube, Bakerloo line exit.
 

NOTTING HILL GATE & OLD HOLLAND PARK VILLAGE PUB WALK
This is a collector's item of a pub walk for a Saturday night out in an area that's zoomed upmarket in recent times. Three very different pubs with some fine ales to sample, locations from the move "Notting Hill", the market, fine houses, graceful streets, Churchill memorabilia, and even chamber pots aplenty! Who could ask for more? Nightcap anyone?
 
To go on the Notting Hill Gate & Old Holland Park Village Pub Walk meet Alison just outside the north exit of Notting Hill GateTube.
 
The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is at the Ladbroke Arms Pub, which is in Ladbroke Road.
 
The walk ends near Notting Hill GateTube.

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK IN ST. PANCRAS
The streets are paved with tales of yore in St Pancras, south of the new Eurostar terminus, heartland of writers, artists and dilettantes, stamping ground of mavericks, intellectuals and Bohemians. Outsiders like Ignatius Trebich-Lincoln, spy, forger, prison breaker and Presbyterian minister. (What sort of job is that for a nice yiddishe boy?). Odd-bods such as Jeremy Bentham, the philosopher who bequeathed a large of sum of money to University College on the condition that the college authorities preserve his skeleton and display it every year at the annual general meeting.

We’ll be going to his pub, the Jeremy Bentham. We’ll also be going to the Queen’s Larder which takes its name from the generosity of Queen Charlotte, wife of the troubled king George III who was receiving treatment for his apparent insanity at a nearby doctor’s house in the square. She helped nurse him back to health by renting a small cellar beneath the pub, where she kept special foods for him. Sadly all the food is now gone, but there’s plenty of beer, fine conversation and bonhomie on the Off Beaten Track in St Pancras Pub Walk. Meet me, Ed Glinert, at Warren Streettube, before last orders, and preferably before 7.15 p.m.
OLD BROMPTON
Mews, Mansions & Monuments
 
This walk explores West Brompton, a delight part of London with a top drawer roll call of residents past and present. If you're into celebrity spotting this is fertile territory. The rich pickings here includes movie stars, show biz types, authors...let alone a nod to royalty of the not too distant past.
 
Here's just part of the Hit Parade:
 
* the flat where Princess Diana lived before her engagement to Prince Charles
* the flat where Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Jesus Christ Superstar
* the cottage where Agatha Christie wrote The Mousetrap
* the coffee house where Bob Dylan once performed
* the birthplaces of the great actor Sir John Gielgud and the author
   Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit
 
And that's not to mention in The Boltons** themselves the homes of Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley
 
And by way of a counterpoint, you'll also learn the gruesome secrets of 79 Gloucester Road, now home to Kentucky Fried Chicken. It's a scary thought.

**The Boltons are two drop dead handsome facing crescents. They're arguably the most exclusive patch of real estate in London!

To go on the Old Brompton and the BoltonsMews, Mansions & Monuments walk meet Helena just outside the exit of Gloucester RoadTube.
 
The walk ends almost back at Gloucester RoadTube.


THE OLD CHELSEA PUB WALK
The Village of Palaces is London at its most beguiling. It's Oscar Wilde's Tower of Ivory and Mick Jagger's town-house. It's James Bond's pad, Paul Getty's stately mansion, Christopher Wren's Royal Hospital, and an ancient Physic Garden that changed the course of American History. It's trendy Sloane Rangers, Hooray Henries, and scarlet-coated Chelsea Pensioners. It's cannons from the Battle of Waterloo and Chinese lanterns from the Flower Show. We take it all in, punctuated with visits to three delightful hostelries, including the most traditional pub in London (it's David's all-time favourite pub!). Guided by Claire N.B. the walk takes about two and a half hours and ends in the historic heart of Chelsea. From there it's a fifteen minute walk (or 3-minute bus ride) back to Sloane SquareTube.
 
To go on The Old Chelsea Village Pub Walk meet Claire just outside the exit of Sloane SquareTube.
 

THE OLD MAYFAIR PUB WALK
"The champagne & caviar of London Walks." Wth pubs. Does it get any better than that? A place where Old Masters and old money, Rolls Royces and glamour, titles and butlers are par for the course. London's finest town house and nightingales thrumming away in the square. It's London's best name-dropping because Mayfair's been home to Admiral Nelson (and his mistress Lady Emma Hamilton), Clive of India, Disraeli, Handel, Florence Nightingale, Peter Sellers, Jimi Hendrix, Dodi Fayed, and the Earl Mountbatten, to name but a few. And the go figure factor? Try this for size. The parallelogram of purses boasts London's best village within a village: Shepherd Market, a charming little nest of alleys that hasn't lost a jot of its 18th-century scale and village atmosphere, let alone its raffishness. Guided by Chris. N.B. the walk takes about two and a half hours and ends near Bond StreetTube.
 
To go on the Old Mayfair Pub Walk meet on the corner just outside the north exit of Green ParkTube.
 

OLD DULWICH VILLAGE – "a green thought in a green shade"
It's a gem. Village life inside the big metropolis. An unspoilt Georgian village...unique because it's so close to the centre of London.
 
The village is dominated by Dulwich College, founded as College of God's Gift by Edward Alleyn, a rich actor who was a contemporary of Shakespeare. P.G. Wodehouse attended this school. As did Raymond Chandler. Which, if you think about it, means Dulwich College was nursery to Bertram Wooster, Esq. and the archetypical, hard-boiled L.A. Detective Philip Marlowe. Go figure.
 
What else? Well, how does the last toll gate in London grab you? Let alone one of the finest small art galleries in the world? That wonderful bequest of paintings - it came at the end of the 18th century - did the College a power of good. And the gallery itself - the building I mean - is a wonder in its own right. Designed and built by Sir John Soane, it's coming up to 200 years old now. And with all of that, well, there's no need to enjoin you to Enjoy! You will.
 
To go on the Old Dulwich Village walk meet Sue at VictoriaTube Stop (meet just outside the exit to the mainline Victoria  Railway Station).
 
For the "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" turn right out of West Dulwich and walk to the junction with Alleyn Road
 
The walk ends at West Dulwich  mainline Railway Station; the train ride from there back to Victoria station in central London takes just ten minutes. 
 

OLD HOLLAND PARK VILLAGE
Ah, yes, Holland Park Village. As good as it gets. Picturesque and expensive. Reposeful and rustic. Gardens. Cottages clinging to the hillside. Lots of creamy white stucco – with intermittent splashes of pink and blue. Artists' studios. Professors' studies. Politicians' get-aways. Well, you get the idea. And that's not to mention the park itself; or Holland House; or the street of antique shops and galleries; or lots of little shops and cafes of great charm, age and appeal; or the area's pearl strings of 19th-century mansions (Campden Hill, one of Holland Park Village's grandest streets, was once known as "the Dukeries", owing to a surfeit of authentic coronets in the neighbourhood). And those are just the visuals. The history and biographical material is equally tasty. Guided by Alison. The walk ends at Leighton House, a seven-minute walk from High Street KensingtonTube.
 
To go on the Old Holland Park Village walk meet just outside the exit of Holland ParkTube.
 

OLD SHOREDITCH VILLAGE & HOXTON

London's Hippest Triangle

Shoreditch occupies a special slice of the history of London's great theatre tradition. It was the site of the very first playhouse in England: The Theatre, founded in 1576 by James Burbage. In more recent times Shoreditch played a significant role in the development of the Music Hall tradition, so popular with "ordinary" people. Pioneers in medicine and gardening also had roots in this area. On the down side, Shoreditch was the site of the most notorious slum in the whole of 19th-century London. But times change. Which is by way of saying, today Shoreditch is London at its most happening. It's galleries, bars and restaurants galore...London doesn't come any trendier than today's Shoreditch & Hoxton.

To go on The Old Shoreditch Village & Hoxton walk meet the London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year Judy just outside exit 3 of Old StreetTube Stop.

The Latecomers Catch-up Stop is within sight of exit 3 of Old StreetTube Stop.

The walk ends at the Geffrye Museum, which is a very short bus ride from Liverpool StreetTube Stop (and Railway  station) and/or Old StreetTube Stop.


OLD & NEW WALWORTH
One of our Long Live Local London walks – that's what we're serving up on today's Tour du Jour. A walk that's spiced with some 'seriously hip' artists' studios (as The Times put it). But let's not get ahead of ourselves. These Local London forays are capital (so to speak) D Discoveries because they show you Londoners' London, real London, at home London –  as opposed to "the parlour". It's fun to see – and get inside, get  to know – a neighbourhood that otherwise wouldn't be on your radar. It's an undiscovered planet swimming into your ken. Here's guide Isobel's say. "I'm on home turf here. This is the Walworth Walk. Distinct from the Lambeth one. More fun I'd say, but I could be biased. Last year when I led this walk @ThisisWalworth tweeted 'just when u think u know all there is to know about #walworth #se17, along comes @GuidedbyIsobel.'" And picking up a special Christmas prezzie or two is certainly a possibility because we're going to put in at the the artists' Christmas Fair – it's why the walk is timed for this weekend. Terence Conran raves about it, and Keith Richards came here for a bespoke guitar. There's a cafe or a pub for lunch. Unless you fancy Thai food, in which case, I'll give you directions." N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends in Pullens Yards, a three minute walk from numerous buses on Walworth Road. Or a seven minute walk to Elephant & CastleTube (and Railway Station) or KenningtonTube.
 
To go on the Old & New Walworth walk meet Isobel just outside KenningtonTube.
 

OLD SPITALFIELDS - Riches to Rags
 
Old Spitalfields is one of those London neighbourhoods where some of the "tributaries" lead straight into the 17th-century! One of those London neighbourhoods that's a palimpsest. In short, it's re-invented itself many times but if you know where to look - and how to look - you can effectively drill down and "sample" layer after layer of this great city.

Its roots are mediaeval. But its great shimmering past - which floats up before us in everything from street names to houses to Hawksmore's great church to weavers' windows - was its days as the historic centre of the silk industry in London. The industry was established already when the great influx of Huguenot refugees came from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. (The great thing about a walk like this is that suddenly those dry-as-dust old historical terms are suddenly real, meaningful, human.) Their extraordinary weaving skills gave Spitalfields its great 18th-century reputation as a European centre of production of fine quality silks. (In passing, you might just think about the international implications: England's gain was a huge loss for France. So much for "rulers" pandering to ignorant prejudices!
 
Well, you can guess the rest. The walk chronicles the lives of the silk weaves from refugee rags to riches and back again. How their early Georgian houses were built and lived in - and the modern day fight to preserve what's left of them in a fast changing multicultural area.
 
To go on the Old Spitalfields - Riches to Rags walk meet Sue just outside the Bishopsgate exit of Liverpool StreetTube.
 
The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is the Broadgate Centre Arcade.
 
The walk is more or less circular. I.E., it'll end near Liverpool StreetTube.


OLD TWICKENHAM
Riverside Villas, Rhythm and Blues & Rugby

The sounds of Rhythm & Blues, national anthems and a ‘sweet chariot swinging low’, scrums and tries, eel pies and a cabbage patch, a royal mistress’s house and A. Pope, the French connection and a famous tea trading family, an Indian Industrialist and Statues to make you Blush! These, along with stunning riverside walks, pubs, parks and gardens are some of the joys of Twickenham.

THE OLD WEST END
Scandal, Skulduggery & Conspiracy in Celebrities' London.
 
Suits me (David) down to the ground, this one does. We're exploring a part of London most people don't get to see. A "neglected quarter." And the contrast between the veneer of wealth and respectability and the sensational, OMG, "flesh-is-weak" goings-on here – ooooh, ahhhh, yes! Hits. The. Spot. Ok, let's vector in. We're in Marylebone here. Ducal Marylebone. The desmenes of the Dukes of Portman. The bit that lies behind Marble Arch tube station and Baker Street. Most people never find a reason to go there but it is a revelation. Full of scandals – think Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson. Think the Profumo affair. Not to mention the conspiracy to bring down the government by murdering the whole Cabinet at dinner; the determined attempt by a fraudster to pass himself off as heir to a fortune; and the promise of the Second Coming of the Messiah to take place at 38 Manchester Street on October 19, 1814. So, frisson-territory. Strong stuff, heady stuff territory. And in this quiet and unfrequented place – well the ideal hideaway for the famous – the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Let alone a journey into fear for a very special noivelist. All of the above plus a couple of classy, very inviting old pubs when we do this one as a pub walk. What's not to like?  Guided by Sue.
 
To go on The Old West EndScandal, Skulduggery & Conspiracy in Celebrities' London walk meet Sue just outside exit 1 of Marble ArchTube.
 
The walk ends very near Bond StreetTube.
 

THE OLYMPIC PARK
 
Put out the flags. Send up the Rockets. Emblazon it across the skies: This walk now goes into the Olympic Village! We're no longer on the outside looking in. We're on the inside – guiding Olympic London up close and inside! 'Twas a consummation devoutly to be wished – and boy was it worth the wait!
 
Ok, and on that note, the practicals...
 
In the Summer 2014 London Walks programme – which kicks in on May 1 and runs through October 31 – the Olympics London walk will take place every every Saturday at 10.45 am
 
The meeting place is just outside the exit of West HamTube*
 
The "names over the marquee"the guides – are Julianne, Andy, Brian, Judy, Mary, Anne-Marie, Sue, Harry or Chris. Over the marquee because they'll light the place up for you like – well, like an Olympic Torch!
 
And just a reminder, another very good resource for "all the particulars" is the London Walks Calendar.
 
N.B. There are no public "facilities" at or near West HamTube. But tons of them where the walk ends. So perhaps tip a kidney before you get to West HamTube!
 
 
 
 
Ahhhhh! It's come at last. And we're there. The Olympic Park is open. And we're going in. Taking our groups in. Exploring it. Seeing it up close. Guiding it. It's the next best thing to a helicopter arrival with 007 and Her Majesty in the jump seat. Because the wonder of it is still there. There in the spiky white steel stadium. There in the glide and soar of the shiny aluminium Aquatic Centre. In "the Copper Box". In the AccelorMittal Orbit. In the whys and wherefores and back stories. In the neighbourhood's pastscape and futurescape. In that astonishing panorama – like being out on a tether looking back at the London Milky Way. There where the Olympic Torch entered the home stretch – where we walk!* Guided by Brian or Anne-Marie. N.B. an Oyster or Travel Card for Zone 3 is a good idea as we take a short DLR journey to the Olympic Village. It swooshes us into the Hi-tech station built specially for the Games, the station the athletes, officials and VIPs arrived at, the station built to take the ultra high speed and appropriately named Javelin trains. Sports metaphor time: this approach – these vantage points – it's like making your way down to a ringside seat. Stepping into the ring – well, that's our tour of the Olympic Park itself!
 
*Why West HamTube? Local knowledge, that's why. London Walks knowledge. It kicked in from the get-go: "no question about it, West Hamis definitely the best place to start the Olympics London walk." Not least because it saves us having to make a long dreary walk along a busy, nothing-to-see-but-plenty-of-fumes-to-breathe road. Yes, local knowledge. You can't beat it. As that American tourist said on the walk (you can hear him – and Julianne – here): "if you weren't on a London Walk you wouldn't know..." 
 
 
 
Part way through the walk we take a short journey on the DLR so you'll need an Oyster or 3-Zone Travel Card. We take that DLR journey because it gives us some additional great views of the Olympics site. And because it leaves us off right by the Olympic Village (it swooshes us into the Hi-tech station built specially for the Olympics – the station the athletes, officials and VIPs arrivee at, the station built to take the ultra high speed and appropriately named Javelin trains!). And because it saves us having to make a long dreary walk along a busy, nothing-to-see-but-plenty-of-fumes-to-breathe road. Local knowledge. London Walks knowledge. You can't beat it. It kicked in from the get-go: "no question about it, West Hamis definitely the best place to start the Olympic London walk." As that American tourist said on the walk (you can hear him – and Julianne – here): "if you weren't on a London Walk you wouldn't know..."
 
And while we're at it, a couple of "additional information" tidbits:
 
This one's another one of those London Walks trifectas – or I suppose in this case you could say, Winner's podium, uppermost step. Winner's podium, uppermost step because 1) Julianne, who masterminded this one, is a top flight Blue Badge Guide; 2) she's local; and 3) it's Gold Medal Award-winning London Walks. Enuf said? No? Okay, scroll down – there's lots more about this one further down the page. And for a hear, click here!
 
And the starting block? The meeting point for the Olympics Park walk is just outside the exit of West HamTube.
 
West HamTube was a "gateway station" to the Olympic Park, so we walk the route that lots of spectators walked in the Olympics Summer.
 
And look, Julianne and co. are not going to be dishing out the sort of information you get on a "Highlights Summary Card". The walk is better than that. A whole lot better.
 
Better because you'll get a feel for the whole neighbourhood – past, present and future. In short, Julianne and Co. "context" matters for you.
 
Stratford and East London have a long, eventful, rich history, a history that ranges back over the centuries (one of Chaucer's pilgrims – the Prioresse – learned her "Frenssh" at Stratford!). We "take you through that history", right down to the present day – and yesterday. Yesterday being what's arguably the most extraordinary industrial history in London. That "past" is still very much there. But of course it's very long in the tooth. Which is one of the reasons the area was chosen for what amounts to London's most spectacular "regeneration" in a very long time.
 
Long in the tooth – but, in places, gob-smacking. I'm thinking in particular of the "Gothic Cathedral". A cathedral not to God, but to the sewage of Londoners. It's worth the trip just to see it!
 
What else? Well, should go without saying – the walk will be a crash course in the history of the Olympics. Especially the London Olympics – 1908, 1948 and now 2012. Yup, the greatest city on earth is the only city that's hosted the Games three times!
 
And howzabout some stats? To wit: 30 new bridges, half a million plants, a new park for London, 1.4m tonnes of contaminated soil cleaned.
 
And: 26 sports Olympics, 9.2m tickets, over 20,000 journalists, 4bn people watching world wide, 14 million meals served.
 
The Olympic Park itself – we get great views of it and its "gem stones" (the stadium, etc.) – runs to 2.5 sq. kms. (Here's a Nov. 2011 "image update" from a New Yorker who  recently went on the walk and took some happy snaps.) N.B. we do not go inside the Olympic Park itself – for security reasons, etc. there is no public access to the Park until August, 2013.
 
Last but not least maybe pack a sandwich and a bottle of water. This isn't "a Starbucks every 50 yards" territory. Which in itself is a recommendation. At least by my (David's) lights!
 
The walk ends at the Olympic Village, right by Stratfordstation.
 
Enjoy!
 
 

THE OLYMPICS, THREE MILLS & BOW BACK RIVERS
This is the walk that came first. The pioneering walk. The walk that explored this area decades before the 2012 ballyhoo was even dreamt of. All that hoop-la is now history as well but it has of course made its mark. An out-of-the-way, hard scrabble, forgotten corner of London is now a jaw-dropping contrast of old and new. And, yes, the new of course comes into this walk – the Olympic Park, the Stadium, the Aquatics Centre, the Velodrome, etc. – how could it be otherwise? That said, it's still that old, came first, pioneering walk – it's just that it's got the "Bolt"-on of that 2012 supercharge! That "old, came first, pioneering walk" with its "historic parts" that are centuries, not months, old. Historic parts centred on the River Lea, for centuries the cradle of much of London's history going right back to Roman times. And from those earliest beginnings the long, long march forward. King Alfred, for example, made use of the River Lea in his "dealings" with the Danes. Then there's the 1776 tide mill. The biggest in the world, it was used for grinding malt for London's gin industry. Its forerunner ground gunpowder – some of which very likely found its way into the Redcoats' muskets that blasted away at the Boston Massacre! Well, you get the idea. N.B. this walk is conducted in partnership with the Inland Waterways Association. It'll be guided by a member of the Canal Guides team. The "Latecomer's Catch-Up Stop" is the the Three Mills. The walk ends near Pudding Mill Lane Station, which is part of the Docklands Light Railway system.
 

"ON THE SQUARE" IN FREEMASONS' LONDON
Secrets, Rituals & Cabals

Imagine all the knowledge in the world...

The knowledge that was, the knowledge that is, the knowledge that will be. The knowledge saved by Noah before the Flood. Knowledge recorded on two indestructible pillars, one of marble, which could not be destroyed by fire, the other of brick that could not be dissolved by water.

What has happened to this knowledge? Who guards it?

The smart money is on the Freemasons.

Forget the hackneyed image of the Freemasons as a secret club engaged in bizarre rituals. This is the Freemasons as a movement reaching back centuries before the birth of Christ, whose members had been instrumental in devising fundamental architectural and geometric measurements...and had been responsible for preserving that knowledge during the Dark Ages.

Oh, okay. It's also a strange body of oddly-dressed geezers clad in aprons and leather chanting bizarre rituals and indulging in strange phenomena, as we'll discover when we get well and truly into our lid lifting!

And by all means limber up those "secret handshake digits" - because anyone who can prove they are an “18-degree Knight of the Pelican and Eagle and Sovereign Prince Rose Croix of Heredom” might be eligible for a £1 discount on the cost of going on the walk! Mind you anyone who really was an “18-degree Knight of the Pelican and Eagle and Soverseign Prince Rose Croix of Heredom” wouldn’t let anyone else know outside their local lodge.
 
To go on the "On the Square" – the Secrets of the Freemasons walk meet just outside the exit of Covent GardenTube.

N.B., This is an Ed Glinert-created and Ed Glinert-guided walk!
 

PASSION & POETRY – Keats in Hampstead
 "You will have a very pleasant walk today. I shall see you pass. I shall follow you with my eyes over the Heath " – so John Keats wrote from his 'sopha bed' during his last illness, to his "Bright Star" – Fanny Brawne.  From his City boyhood and his medical training, Keats came at last, through much sorrow, to Hampstead where he found friendship, love and immortality.
 
Our walk ends at Keats House, his home, where, in The Great Year, as it's come to be known, he turned out masterpiece after masterpiece ("an outpouring of major poetry unmatched in English").  To stand in the garden where he wrote Ode to a Nightingale – and to reflect that a terrible, tubercular death was bearing down on this brilliantly gifted young man – well, it makes lines like "singeth of summer in full-throated ease" almost unbearably poignant. 
 
Meet at HampsteadTube. Catch up point is Oriel Place, a passageway off Heath Street that leads to Church Row. 
 

 
THE PASSPORT TO PIMLICO PUB WALK
“We always were English, and we always will be English, and it’s just because we’re English we’re sticking out for our right to be Burgundians!”

So waxes a character from the hilarious 1949 Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico. It’s the theme for the pub walk of the same name. This is a land where the unusual mixes with the obvious. Where the most exclusive block of council flats in the country (ex-inhabitants Princess Anne, Harold Wilson) rubs shoulders with the Tate Gallery (the old one, without the crack in the floor) and MI5, the secret state security service – all overlooked by the penthouse apartment where the disgraced Tory peer Jeffrey Archer hosts his Shepherd’s Pie and Krug parties and the adjacent block which houses the police’s serious crimes investigation department.

Pimlico is where King James II fled the country in 1688 and threw the Great Seal of England into the river. It was where the Ancient Britons built London’s first bridge around 1500 BC. It also has two or three cracking pubs, including one that is supposedly linked to the prison where felons awaiting transportation to Australia used to be held. Failure to laugh at the guide’s jokes will not result in so extreme a penalty. The price of a pint may be enough. 
 
The meeting point for the Passport to Pimlico Pub Walk is just outside the Tate Gallery exit of PimlicoTube stop.
 

 PAST PRESERVED - Nooks, Crannies &
Flickering Shadows in Charlie Chaplin's London
 
In his heyday Charlie Chaplin was arguably the most recognizable - if not the most famous - person in the world. Just south of the Thames over Lambeth Bridge is the area where Charlie - "the comic genius who gave pleasure to so many" - was born in 1889. Remarkably - indeed, thrillingly - the streets and buildings that Charlie knew as a boy are still there. In short, to go on this walk is to explore the background and context to the flickering memories of his immortal celluloid talent. And for that matter, this one's a "double feature" because there are other delights - and surprises - along the way. Especially for dedicated computer nerds and art lovers.
 
To go on the Past Preserved walk meet Isobel just outside the exit of KenningtonTube Stop.
 
The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is outside the Drill Hall in Braganza Street.
 
The walk ends not far from KenningtonTube Stop (which is on the Northern Line). Or, if you prefer, it's also a very short jaunt to Elephant & CastleTube Stop (which is on both the Northern Line and the Bakerloo Line).


PAVED WITH GOLD

The rich are different
said F. Scott Fitzgerald. How and where they live...well, it's a pretty fruity ensemble. And it's all here in this walk...this kaleidoscope of how the other tenth lives. For this is the London of salons and Dukes and Duchesses and Noel Coward and Mozart (and, indeed, Baroness Margaret Thatcher). The London where the feet of the servants are soft on the carpet and the world's wind scarcely stirs the leaves of The Times and the walls are thick as a century and the gossip is 24-carat and Her Majesty is a neighbour. The London where the secrets are empurpled and extravagant...and scandals burn with a gem-like flame. And that's not to mention the creature comforts...the bricks and mortar. Well, needless to say, architectural vintages don't come any better than SW1 at its best. Put it all together - shaken not stirred by Stephanie - and it makes for a consummate Sunday morning constitutional. And afterwards, if you really want to push the boat out you can have brunch at Harvey Nichols!

To go on the Paved with Gold - Where the "Upper Three Thousand Live" walk meet
Stephanie just outside Sloane Square Tube Stop.


PENICILLIN & POX
All changed. Changed utterly.
 
I'm not talking about how Paddington has changed. I'm talking about how something that happened in Paddington changed the world.
 
And how. It's no exaggeration to say the three most important "moments" in the 20th century took place in London. And one of those "moments" happened at St. Mary's Paddington. (To find out about the other two you need to go on Brian's Literary London walk and my [David's] Old Westminster walk.) Which is by way of saying, Medical Paddington means St. Mary's Hospital. And St. Mary's Hospital - think of a cinematic tracking shot here - means Sir Alexander Fleming...and some mould in a petrie dish...leading to...Penicillin. And it's shiver up the spine stuff to hear how fine the thread was that the discovery hung by. Had to do - sharp intake of breath is called for here - with Fleming's being a good shot. Had he not been...well, it doesn't bear thinking about.
 
But he was. The dish was left out. He noticed the mould...and, well, hello Penicillin. And a Nobel prize in 1945 for Sir Alexander. And a quick zoom out to the world all changed, changed utterly.
 
It's good heady stuff. And of course there's a lot more. And it's not all "making the rounds"...though there's plenty of that - especially since this walk is guided by a Public Health Physician, Dr. Barry! In short, we'll also be tuning into some of Paddington's other very special frequencies. Take a break from the hospital - just as the medicos do. Just as Alexander Fleming did. Take a break for a turn to one of the wonders of the Victorian age - Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 1851 Paddington station. And for a 21st century counterpoint there's the stunning new Paddington waterside complex.
 
To go on the Penicillin & Pox - Medical Paddington walk meet Dr. Barry just outside Lancaster GateTube Stop.
 
The "latecomers Catch-up Stop" is by the Edward Jenner statue in the Italian Gardens.

The walk ends at PaddingtonTube Stop.

PRIMROSE HILL – Village, Vistas & Celebrity Hot Spot
Ah, Primrose Hill. Make that a Double. Ah, Picturesque, Primrose Hill. We're going to go for a stroll in – and more importantly, really get to know – the chicest, trendiest, most Bohemian village in London, home to Ewan McGregor, Jamie Oliver, Jude Law, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Jamie Oliver (who knows, we might even bump into his nakedness himself, armed with a handful of herbs ready to sprinkle over a stuffed chicken)… Primrose Hill? It’s more like Beverley Hills!

We probably won’t however find anyone who remembers how Primrose Hill, one of the highest locations in London as well as one of the most desirable, was where the Popish Plot began in 1678 as London quaked in fear of religious revolution. And we certainly won’t find anyone who remembers the Martians landing on the hill, about to seize control of London, as that happened only in the pages of H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, although some swear they really did see it happen, but they’re the ones who were probably drinking too much with Kingsley Amis.*
 
The meeting point for the Primrose Hill Walk is just outside Chalk FarmTube.
 
*This one you can almost set your clock by. You drop into one of Primrose Hill's sparkling pubs for a spot of refreshment after the walk, chances are you'll bump into a bloke who's been a member of the MCC for yonks and remembers novelist Kingsley Amis drinking a bottle of whiskey a day when he lived at 194 Regent's Park Road in a ménage with his former wife and her new husband.

THE PRIMROSE HILL PUB WALK – Village, Vistas & Celebrity Hot Spot
Ah, Primrose Hill. Double Ah, Picturesque, Primrose Hill. Make that a triple: the Picturesque Primrose Hill Pub Walk. We will be walking through what is the chicest, trendiest, most Bohemian village in London, home to Ewan McGregor, Jamie Oliver, Jude Law, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Sophie Ellis Bextor…Primrose Hill? It’s more like Beverley Hills!

Who knows, rather than simply having a tipple in one of our sparkling pubs, we might bump into Jamie Oliver himself, armed with a handful of herbs ready to sprinkle over a stuffed chicken. More likely we’ll bump into a bloke who’s been a member of the MCC for 80 years and remembers Kingsley Amis drinking a bottle of whiskey a day when he lived at 194 Regent’s Park Road in a ménage with his former wife and her new husband.

We probably won’t however find anyone who remembers how Primrose Hill, one of the highest locations in London as well as one of the most desirable, was where the Popish Plot began in 1678 as London quaked in fear of religious revolution. And we certainly won’t find anyone who remembers the Martians landing on the hill, about to seize control of London, as that happened only in the pages of H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, although some swear they really did see it happen, but they’re the ones who were probably drinking too much with Kingsley Amis.

The meeting point for the Pictureseque Primrose Hill Pub Walk is just outside Chalk FarmTube.
 

PIE CRUST TO UPPER CRUST
Take a walk along the Strand. 140 years ago the lower classes bought ham sandwiches in the street here, while the upper classes were eating the magnificent delights prepared for them at the Savoy Hotel by the king of chefs and chef of kings, Auguste Escoffier. You’ve eaten the peach Melba he created – Ann will give you some more of his glamorous peach recipes to run up at home. 
 
This walk covers London’s foodie history around the  Covent Garden district, best known nowadays for shopping and eating, but for centuries the biggest market in the country for fruit and veg. The first tv chef, the best selling cookery author of all time, the muffin man of Drury Lane all make an appearance, as does that iconic English dish roast beef. We’ll avoid the crowd by taking some of the peaceful back streets and alleyways, and if we’re lucky we may end with a real cup of  English tea.  
 
To go on the Pie Crust to Upper Crust Foodies' London Walk meet Ann just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube.   N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at Twinings, the legendary old tea dealer's across the street from the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand (and a three-minute walk from TempleTube).
 

POLITICAL LONDON – Guided by a House of Commons "insider"
A good old political gossip and canter round the Westminster course. Parliament Square and the famous Churchill statue; insights into Parliament and its odd customs plus all the other institutions attracted by the Westminster honeypot - Scotland Yard, the policemens" favourite building nearby, European Parliament offices, the new Labour Party HQ, the Fabians, Caxton Hall with its echoes of the suffragettes and Churchill's speeches - and how most of the pubs, hotels, and restaurants in Westminster are wired for Parliamentary sound!

To go on the Political London - Guided by a House of Commons "Insider" walk
meet Kim just outside St. James ParkTube.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is by the Home Office in Tothill Street.

The walk ends at WestminsterTube.

PRINCES & PAUPERS DOWN KENNINGTON WAY
Long Live Local London!
 
Down Kennington way – that's where we're going on this Tour du Jour. Down lovely Kennington way. And intriguing Kennington way. Variety, spice, you name it, Kennington's got it. A rare spirit door. Rural Economy. Charlie Chaplin. The worst disaster of the Blitz in Lambeth. Let alone an Indian restaurant that's patronised by MPs of all parties. And just across the Finish Line, a friendly pub that serves great food. What more could you want. Guided by Isobel. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends in Cleaver Square, a five minute walk from KenningtonTube.
 
To go on the Princes & Paupers Down Kennington Way walk meet Isobel just outside the exit of KenningtonTube.
 

A PUTNEY PERAMBULATION –Puritans to Pleasure Seekers
The River Thames flows through the history of Putney – shaping the character of this London suburb. Stroll along the North bank here to see how the River, and the men who worked on it, put Putney at the centre of the great conflict between King and Parliament in the 1640s. Recall a fateful Putney meeting with Britain's first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, which changed Putney, and London. Cross Putney Bridge and learn of the debt which the Gothic horror genre (and Hollywood) owes to the watermen of Putney.  In Putney we can find out why Britain's greatest museums have no entrance fee; discover how "the oldest ventriloquist in the world" changed the art of ventriloquism forever; look up at the home of a famous dog called Queenie, or  sometimes called Tulip, or sometimes called Evie – depending on the book or the film; and understand why Britain no longer has the death penalty. A great sporting event was celebrated here by the journalist, Charles Dickens Junior, near a church which features in one of his father's novels. We shall stand where the opening scene of a Man Booker Prize winning novel (2009) takes place and finish by St Mary's Church, Putney – just over the bridge from Putney Bridge Station. Guided by Rex.
 
To go on the Putney Perambulation walk meet just outside the exit of Putney BridgeTube.
 

FOR QUEEN & COUNTRY - The London Statues Walk
 A walk that takes in some of London's finest statues and memorials. Statues and memorials that immortalise the heroes, known and unknown, who served in the name of  King, Queen & Country. The walk  "salutes" the stories of their derring-do and daring deeds and (S)he who dares. Rubbing elbows with Churchill in his finest hour, Monty at his mightiest and Nelson at his noblest and most high...well, it's a mighty fine couple of hours!

To go on the Queen & Country – The London Statues Walk
meet just outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube Stop.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is by the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

The Walk ends near Charing CrossTube Stop.


REDS, REVOLUTIONARIES & REAL ALE

By day they tramped the grim terraced streets of North London organising comrades for the day they would seize control of the world’s biggest country. By night they sang German drinking songs in the packed pubs of Gray’s Inn Road and St John Street.

It was the early years of the 20th century and they answered to the names of Vladimir Ilyich and Lev Davidovich. We know them better as Lenin and Trotsky. Their ideology ran much of the world for much of the 20th century. Their taste in beer is still shared by London’s knowledgeable drinkers.

Thanks to the Reds, Revolutionaries & Real Ale Pub Walk I, Tavarish Ed Glinert, can lead you through the same streets and into the same pubs while analysing the finer points of Comrade Lenin’s Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. But don’t worry, menshiviki, you don’t need to be a card-carrying member of an Iron Curtain era political elite to appreciate this pub walk, just a thirst for a pint and a half of IPA and a thirst for the great tales of the Bolsheviks in London in the early years of the 20th century.

We will stop at various sites around Pentonville and King’s Cross to hear how Lenin found ash in the sugar bowl at the Russian commune and vowed never to take sugar in his tea again, and to marvel at how Det Insp Fitch of the Metropolitan Police reported back to his superiors that he could not understand a word of the part y meeting he was eavesdropping in the Red Lion pub because the comrades spoke only German and Russian and he knew neither. We will also invoke the spirit of William Morris, Karl Marx, and the gang who planned to assassinate the entire British Cabinet and carry away their heads in two sacks.

"I'll be the one standing outside Angel station at 7.15 p.m. with a rolled up copy of The Morning Star and a big furry Russian hat expropriated from the Tsarist forces."
 

THE REGENT'S CANAL – Islington to Hoxton
Couldn’t be more striking. Or appealing. The contrtast, I mean. We bale on the noise and traffic of Islington's Upper Street and hey presto, just like that we're walking along a pretty, get-away-from-it-all, tree-lined canal towpath. So the sensory input is entirely pleasing. As are the thought bubbles the IWA guides loose in our minds. Which is by way of saying, the Regent's Canal is its own world – a miniature landscape – and the joy of the canal walks is the way the guides "light up" that landscape. Point out particulars you wouldn't notice on your own. Explain why they're there and what they were for. Tow rope "scars", for example. And why the towpath is on the side of the canal it's on. And the reason for the periodic "indentations" in the canal wall, etc. And that's not to mention the visible invisibles (good god, this is beginning to sound like Rumsfeld!). Visible because the guides make us "see" them. For example, the route of an older waterway that we'll cross. A much older waterway – and in its day an even more extraordinary one: the 400 year old New River. The criss-crossing of waterways – and centuries. Prelude to that handsome pair of canal basins just ahead. And with canoeists in one and swans and coots in the other – Roger and Co. loose another fusilade of thought-bubbles: to get us back to the basins' industrial heyday, when they were packed out with cargo-laden vessels, the commercial hub of the Regent’s Canal. And like an arrow shower the canal leads us on, threading its way through north London. A north London that only those who know – those who find the canal and take to it – get to see. "Meeting" – like so many pop-up personalities – as we go, some of the former canal characters and customers. The contractor, for example, who did so well that he was the origin of Charles Dickens’s "Golden Dustman” in Our Mutual Friend. As the forensic people say, every contact leaves a trace. So I think we'll catch a glimpse of him in his special Thames sailing barge. There's more. There's the heady old and new contrast of Kingsland Basin – the huge stables there that provided the "horse-power" for the borough of Hackney. Horses, Hackney, hackney cabriolet, hacks – that's a bit of Regent's Canal past that's stamped on our tongues. And it turns out that that Elizabethan waterway doesn't get the staying power prize. That goes to the Roman road. Yes, for part of our route we're following in the footsteps of Roman legionnaires. Coda: ankle power, water power, horse power, steam engine power, electric power, internal combustion engine power – the walk, er, runs the gamut. Because we catch the North London Railway – the canal's 19th century competitor – for our journey home, our journey back to 2014. Guided by a member of the Canal Guides team, all of whom are IWA members!
 

 
THE REGENT'S CANAL –Islington to Mile End
A leisurely canal walk is just what the London Walks' doctor ordered! Informative, calming, restorative, re-creational (yes, the hyphen is intentional), good for the blood pressure – and the soul!

And here's why. The Regent's Canal is one of London's best kept secrets. This particular stretch – from Islington to Mile End en route for the River Thames at Limehouse – hints at a slightly workaday mood as it quietly sneaks and snakes – meanders if you will – its way through East London. Even so there are plenty of green open spaces along the way.
 
First though the walk starts with a stretch of the New River, one of the greatest engineering feats to ever come London's way. It brough clean water to London from the upper reaches of the River Lea, 40 miles away.

Alas, there's no towpath along the 960 yards of the famous Islington Tunnel on the Regent's Canal – what an adventure that would be potholing – so to speak – through that particular tube of water and stone and darkness (but with light at the end of the tunnel!) – but rest assured we pick up the trail soon afterwards and progress on past four locks and several basins, the junction with the Hertford Union Canal, Victoria Park (London's oldest municipal park) and the Mile End Millenium Park.
 
The Regent's Canal's most useful days, when overloaded narrow boats glided their way through Islington to and from Limehouse, might have ended with the arrival of the railways, but what's left is a delightful amenity for all to tramp along and treasure, Londoners and visitors alike.

N.B., for the dates that this walk takes place, click here.
 
To go on The Regent's Canal – Islington to Mile End walk
meet the guide just outside AngelTube.
 
The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is in Colebrook Row, by the New River.
 
The walk ends near Mile EndTube.


THE REGENT'S CANAL – King's Cross - Granary Building - Camden
Forget the pavement, the sidewalk, the street, the beaten path. The towpath – unseen, untrodden, unexplored, unknown London – beckons. The London of a couple of centuries ago. A London of tunnels and bridges and narrow boats and locks. To say nothing of the life and death struggle between the work horses of the canals and the iron horses of the railways. Ooh. Ah. Yes. The towpath. Shows you a stretch of London – a secret interstice of London – you won't have seen before. And makes for a fascinating look at our past.
 
 
And maybe at our future. In the shape of the Granary Building complex. To see London you have to hear it. So hear this: Granary Building. That's right. It was the trans-shipment point for cargoes of grain – from the north by rail into waiting canal barges. It's now a hub of the fashion industry, the home of the buzz, the centrepiece of a complete transformation of the area. And more shape-shifting – a splendid nature reserve on what was an industrial site. And mind's eye transformations as well. Great connections and asides and notations – a telling Dickens glimpse, for example. And the usual – usual? – canal life and times and culture and history details. Everything from horse dips to tow rope scars to ARP gates. All of it leading up to the Wizard of Oz moment – the canal's magic carpeting us right into the middle of London's Mardi Gras: Camden Market. And unlike the hordes, we've got the key – we know where the market structures came from, why they're there, what they were for. N.B. this walk is conducted in partnership with the Inland Waterways Association. It'll be guided by a member of the Canal Guides team. The "Latecomer's Catch-up Stop" is on the Canal Towpath, at the York Way Bridge, immediately north of King's Cross station. The walk ends near Camden TownTube.
 

THE REGENT'S CANAL – King's Cross to Camden
The Regent's Canal opened in 1820. It joins the Grand Junction Canal at Paddington and goes east through tunnels and north London suburbs to join the River Thames at Limehouse. There are 40 bridges and 12 locks along the way.

This, the first* of a series of four Sunday afternoon Regent's Canal Walks, includes London's Canal Museum. Historically canals were used for transporting goods in so-called "narrow boats" on which the bargees and their families shared a tiny space, with the bulk reserved for cargo.

The story of the walk is the life and death struggle between the work horses of the canals and the iron horses of the railways in the first half of the 19th-century.

So, a fascinating look at our past. And maybe at our future...after the PI (the Petroleum Interval as "big picture" historians have started to call it).

*Don't worry, it doesn't matter which order you take the walks in. But be warned, you do one you'll want to do the other three! And if – which is by way of saying, "when" – you "complete the course" – do all four Regent's Canal Walks – well, whip yourself up one of those "I Walked London's Regent's Canal" tee-shirts – because you'll have had a very special set of experiences! You've done it, so flaunt it!!

For the dates that this walk takes place, click here.

To go on The Regent's Canal - King's Cross to Camden Walk meet Roger
(or one of his Inland Waterways Association colleagues)
by the taxi rank just outside King's CrossTube.  

N.B., the "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is
the London Canal Museum in Wharf Road.

The walk ends near Camden TownTube.  
(Or at Chalk FarmTube if Camden TownTube is closed.)
 

THE REGENT'S CANAL – King's Cross to Hitchcock's Hackney
This walk has started before it begins! We might be extras in The 39 Steps – bit part players in one of Hitch's most dramatic chase scenes. Because we're meeting right where Richard Hannay, disguised as a milkman, abandons his milk float and, hotly pursued by German spies, rushes into the station to board the Flying Scotsman. Hannay's close call and escape rings a dramatic change in the film. Moving off from the station we ring a pretty dramatic one ourselves: welcome to the Granary Building! Built to trans-ship grain into canal barges, it’s now totally re-fitted – home for that hub of the fashion world, Central Saint Martins College. It's the centre-piece of an astonishing transformation of the area – out of the chrysalis of old 19th century industrial London the buzz of a new London, the very latest London. It's rich fare – makes for a fascinating preamble. But now it's time to get down to business, get onto the towpath. Not least because in no time the canal opens out into a basin full of boats, some of which once traded commercially along these very waters. Lots of great visuals, lots of contrasts. Over there the headquarters of two newspapers; here, original 19th century buildings, including the one that now houses the London Canal Museum. Moving on, when the canal burrows underneath Islington we take the path the barge-horses followed. Again, rich fare here. Famous London pleasure gardens, a vibrant street-market, Upper Street and then the New River and back onto the tree-lined canal towpath. Then two more canal basins, one used for canoeing, the other a nature reserve. We towpath it a bit further through North London and we're there. We've arrived at Hitchcock's Hackney. Arrived at the site of the famous studios where The Master of Suspense was "discovered". The walk ends a short bus-ride from Old StreetTube. N.B. The Regent's Canal Walks are given in partnership with the Inland Waterways Association. The guides are all members of the IWA. 
 
The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is on the Canal Towpath, at the York Way Bridge, immediately north of King’s Cross station.
 

THE REGENT'S CANAL - Little Venice to Camden
This one is undoubtedly the prettiest of the three Regent's Canal Walks. It begins at Little Venice, harbour and home to waterfolk and landlubbers alike. There's prestige - and catch-in-the-throat attractive - real estate on and off the water. On the water because many of the "narrow boats" have been converted into very desirable houseboats. It's been said, with very little exaggeration, that this is quite possibly the most beautiful residential neighbourhood in the world. The scene is almost more Dutch than Venetian. Uniquely, the canal here is an extra ingredient in a London street. The buildings flanking the street vary from elegant semi-detached stuccoed villas and terraced houses to Edwardian mansion flats. They're very fine in their own right. Add to them the green of the mature trees forming a canopy to the canal and the water itself and the palette of brightly coloured boats (in exquisite counterpoint to the creamy stucco of the houses) and the delightful bridges that bookend the ensemble...well, it makes for a very special place.

And that's just for starters. From there the canal runs through a tunnel under the Edgware Road and on to St. John's Wood...where it emerges to stunning views of Primrose Hill Regent's Park and the London Zoo.

And always with the canal walks - because you're in an automobile-free-zone – everything slows right down and you're back in the 1820s. Back in the 1820s seeing a London you'd never otherwise see. It's back-door London. Grand houses that back onto the canal. In some cases they have their own little pier with their boat tied up to it. All very much in marked – and delightful – contrast to the "public face" of these houses – which of course is the front, the view you get from the street. That's a view anybody can get anytime. It's the lazy, easy option. We go for richer pickings... we see their "private face".
 
And of course at the end of the walk we're right into Camden Market – we end at The
Lock – with all of its Sunday afternoon huzzah and colour and panache and buzz.
 
For the dates that this walk takes place, click here.

To go on The Regent's Canal – Little Venice to Camden Walk 
meet Roger (or one of his Canal Guides colleagues)
just outside Warwick AvenueTube
at 2:30 pm on the Sunday afternoons in question.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is by the "pool" – the "pool" is where the three canals meet – at Little Venice. And then from there we'll of course go along the canal itself.

The walk ends very near Camden TownTube. 
 

THE REGENT'S CANAL - Mile End to Limehouse

To get to know the Regent's Canal is to tap into a completely different London...a London that you don't normally see. It's old, back-door, far from the madding crowd London. It's a London where time slows right down...to the pace of the horse-drawn canal barges. Or I suppose you could say it's a London where time stopped...nearly 200 years ago!

At one time the Regent's Canal's Limehouse Dock was the gateway to the whole of the UK canal network. And what a gateway: it's an impressive 10 acres of water and four acres of quays and wharves - plus the entry lock into the Thames, two miles below London Bridge.
 
For the dates that this walk takes place, click here.

To go on The Regent's Canal – Mile End to Limehouse Walk meet
one of our Inland Waterways Association guides just outside Mile EndTube.


The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is Mile End Lock, next to Millenium Park.

The walk ends near Limehouse station. It's part of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) system, which, if you think about it, makes for an almost dizzying transformation: from the Age of Canals to cutting edge 21st century London! The DLR is a completely automated, elevated whoosh - with lots of Wow! factor - through the largest urban redevelopment in Europe. And if you've got a 2-Zone Travel Card, well it's a "ticket to ride" on the DLR.


REVOLTING LONDON
Radicals, Rebels, Reds, Revolution & Rivers is the subtitle. But the word that freebases it is mafficking. That's what went on here. Both on the streets. And behind closed doors. And behind hooded, staring, guarded eyes. But seriously, James Grant said "London may be said to be a little world in itself." He was only half right. London's a world of little worlds. The word the historians use is "nodes". A trade, an activity, a state of mind will get established in a certain corner of London. And it puts down roots. Roots that go down centuries. It shapes the very character – the feel – of its neighbourhood. Over centuries. The outward form will change. The inward essence doesn't. To understand that, to get the hang of it is to grasp one of the fundamentals of London and Londonism. Though to be able to play that arpeggio properly – only really fine historians and great guides can do this – you have to be able to explain why a certain neighbourhood becomes the home of this or that. So that's the underlying London principle, the framing device for this walk. As the subtitle makes absolutely clear the node this walk explores is London's mafficking world. (It's a wonderfully pungent, 19th century word that means to get rowdy – in the streets or in the mind.) And mafficking is what this neighbourhood's been serving up for centuries – from Wat Tyler and the Peasants' Rebellion to Lenin to the Morning Star ("people who read the Morning Star think another country should run the country"). David R.'s going to take us over the ground, show us where, bring on the maffickers (the principal players and their supporting casts). And explain why. Good walk through a fascinating neighbourhood and its history.
 
To go on the Revolting London walk meet just outside AngelTube.
 

A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT
The focus here is the River Thames, which obviously played a huge part in shaping the development of the capital. Pretty good in its own right as a subject. But this one is topped off with a very special highlight. And just to prepare the ground a little bit...most people don't realise that right in the heart of London we have a mediaeval palace that is lived in to this day. Namely Lambeth Palace - the Archbishop of Canterbury's London establishment. It's deliciously old, walled, mysterious, off-limits Well, mostly off-limits. Today, the door cracks open just a mite. Which is by way of saying, here's a rare chance to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury's Garden at Lambeth Palace on the banks of the River Thames.
 
The Palace Gardens are only open a few afternoons in any given summer and we try to schedule a walk to coincide with each day they are open. And who wouldn't...because they're some of the oldest and finest gardens in the country. So if you fancy walking in the shade of mulberry trees planted 500 years ago...
 
And for that matter, you're not going to go wrong with any of the "supporting acts", either. They include the Museum of Garden History, a delightful churchyard and the tomb of Captain Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame.

The meeting point for A River Runs Through It is just outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube.

ROAMING DOWN BY THE RIVER
 A London Far Removed in Time
This walk once rejoiced in the title: "Fish & Ships". Its undoubted highlight is the Thames Riverside Walkway. The stretch of water it overlooks is liquid history. It's the pool of London. In bygone times the Thames here would have been a forest of masts...you could skip from wooden deck to wooden deck almost to the other side of the river.  Here's the handsome old Customs House, behind its gauzy screen of trees. Here's the roaring, bilious old Billingsgate Fish Market, which dates back to 1016. Famous for fish obviously, but also for the language that smoked out of the porters! All great stuff. And you'll also be hooked by the old fashioned fish motifs of the area's gates and ironwork.
 
To go on the Roaming Down by the River - A London Far Removed in Time walk
meet Isobel just outside the main exit - the Fish Street Hill exit - of MonumentTube.

The Latecomers Catch-up stop is St. Magnus the Martyr Church,
just down Fish Street Hill - toward the river - from the Tube Stop.

The Roamin' ends near Tower HillTube.


THE ROMAN CITY
A Stroll through Londinium - Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
 
See the fabric remains, experience the essence of London's Roman heritage...this walk touches on the very foundations of the City. In short, walking through Londinium we're back about 2,000 years.
 
Founded by immigrants, it was home to merchants and traders from those far distant days to the present.
 
Highlights include everything from sections of London's ancient city wall - we have to go down into a car park to find one of them! - to the remains of the Temple of Mitras. Built on the banks of the River Walbrook, it was rediscovered only in the 1950s during the rebuilding consequent upon the World War II bomb damage.
 
And that's not to mention the grand finale. At walk's end you can pop into the Museum of London and stroll along a recreation of a Londinium street. Or take a look at the rediscovered - and brilliantly restored, complete with sound effects - London colisseum. Stand where the gladiators stood. Hear the roar of the crowd. Look at the tunnel down which your opponents - human or feline - will come charging at you.
 
So, a lot to see. And what you see will be informed by some astonishing bits and bobs of information. Here's a soupcon: in 100 AD the per capita daily consumption of water in Rome was 300 gallons. In 2004 the per capita daily consumption of water in London was 35.2 gallons. Information like that stops you in your tracks...it's a mini education.
 
To go on The Roman City - A Stroll through Londinium walk meet the guide just outside the exit of Tower HillTube Stop.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is by that wonderful section of the Roman wall just off Cooper's Row...i.e., just along - and around the corner - from the tube stop.

The walk ends near St. Paul'sTube Stop.


THE ROTHSCHILDS – "Lords of Europe"
Who is the most impressive Briton of the 20th century?

Winston Churchill, despite the lisp, the unnecessary second term and those dull, never-ending histories? Ralph Vaughan Williams, even with the horrendous Sea Symphony? George Graham, despite succumbing to Mammon?

Or perhaps Victor Rothschild? He was a county cricketer (for Northants), which immediately puts him above most mortals. He was a classy jazz pianist, so now he is really up there. He was a major political player after the Second World War, acting as chief security adviser to prime ministers Labour and Conservative. He was also a first class scientist, who worked on the allies’ war-time atom bomb to stop the Nazis getting there first. His other war-time job was to take charge of testing presents sent to Churchill, in case they were contaminated.

Rothschild knew that the Nazis had inserted bombs into thermos flasks, or even lumps of coal, which would explode if slivers were removed. He once made safe a device placed inside a crate of onions while giving staff a running commentary: “ . . . I have taken the primer out . . . I can now see the detonator buried in the middle of the plastic [long silence] . . . I have taken the primer off. The other detonator is off. All over, all safe now.”

Perhaps Rothschild was always destined for great things. He came from a good family. One of the most famous families in the world, after all, best known as an enduring banking dynasty.

And, yes, their imprint is all over London’s West End, from the mansions of Piccadilly where they held court in the 19th century, bailing out the British government when it wanted to buy the Suez Canal, to Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords where they were the first Jewish peers.

But not all the Rothschilds were zealous and diligent. Walter, the 2nd Lord Rothschild, astonished his fellow bankers when they discovered in 1908 that for two years he had not opened any of his mail but had simply piled it up in a large wicker basket and when that was full he'd done the same with a new wicker basket. It took staff six weeks to sort through it, and then they found to their horror that his investments were mostly worthless. His father disinherited him.

It all began with Nathan Meyer Rothschild. “A true Lord of Europe”, Lord Byron called him Don Juan. When Nathan was asked for the secret of his success he replied “Minding my own business.”

Fortunately we will be less secretive on the Rothschild walk. We meet just outside Green Parktube, north exit.

Concordia, Integritas, Industria
 

 
SAINTS, SINNERS & SERMONS IN STONES
Rogues, Rookeries & Reformers
 
Hilary's really let rip with this one. Her palette is a stonemason's view of London's history. Onto it she's squeezed a London version of Dante's Inferno (and his Paradiso)! So, for example, high amongst the Saints: the great prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. And down amongst the Sinners: the infamous Newgate Prison inmates...the executed, execrated , transported, you name it; also down there the pickpockets and thieves, the hard men and harder women of London's rookeries, the denizens of the Big Smoke's dens of iniquity. And for Judgement Day: the sermons preched in the City's Houses of God, notably St. Bartholomews and St. Paul's Cathedral.

To go on the Saints, Sinners & Sermons in Stones Walk meet Hilary just outside exit 1 of BlackfriarsTube Stop.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is in Playhouse Yard.

The walk ends near FarringdonTube Stop.


SAMUEL PEPYS – The Christmas Day walk
25th December (Yes, Christmas day!).

“In the morning very much pleased to see my house once more clear of workmen and to be clean, and indeed it is so, far better than it was that I do not repent of my trouble that I have been at.

"In the morning to church, where Mr. Mills made a very good sermon. After that home to dinner, where my wife and I and my brother Tom (who this morning came to see my wife’s new mantle put on, which do please me very well), to a good shoulder of mutton and a chicken.

"After dinner to church again, my wife and I, where we had a dull sermon of a stranger, which made me sleep, and so home, and I, before and after supper, to my lute and Fuller’s History, at which I staid all alone in my chamber till 12 at night, and so to bed.”

That's the entry for Christmas 1660 as recorded by Samuel Pepys, author of the most famous diary in English literature. The diary wasn’t written for publication. It was a personal record, created in shorthand and not even translated until early in the 19th century.

And how lucky for us that it was, for this is one of the most entertaining and joyful autobiographical records ever kept - thanks to the quality of the writing, the little anecdotes (they're like plums in a Christmas pudding!) , the illuminating profiles, the indiscretions, the insults and – tying it altogether – the warmth of Pepys’s personality.

Pepys was a civil servant and bon viveur who lived at an intriguing time in British history. He saw the King, Charles I, executed (it’s possible it wasn’t the King, as will be "revealed" on the walk…!); the monarchy abolished and restored by public acclaim; the Plague rage and the Fire burn. He watched as another King was forced out for being a Catholic. He ate heartily, drank merrily and indulged lustily, and always with a smile on his face, even when he had kidney stones removed without anaesthetic. Okay perhaps not when having kidney stones removed without anaesthetic.

Now we can follow in the great man’s footsteps to celebrate Christmas morning with a walk around the Westminster he knew. May be we will end, as Pepys himself recorded on 25th December 1667, with “some good ribs of beef roasted and mince pies”, not that your guide will be able to go quite that far. But he can promise some tasty morsels of stories to whet your appetite for Christmas dinner. Meet Simon and Richard III at 11 am by the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.
 

SAMUEL PEPYS' LONDON – City Perilous, City Peerless
"I am inclined to think that Pepys when all is said is the greatest of the Londoners – a fuller, more intensely alive Londoner than either Johnson or Lamb. Perhaps he wins his pre-eminence rather by his littleness, for to be a Londoner in the highest one must be rather trivial or at least be interested in trivialities." E V Lucas. So that's the measure of the man – the greatest of the Londoners. But it's not just Pepys we're tracking down, it's his London. And what a London it was. His three score and ten were the formative years in the life of our city. They're the bridge across – from mediaeval London to recognisably modern London, our London. They were the most dramatic – and indeed traumatic – years of London's life. The Plague, the Great Fire, the Civil War, the trial and execution of a Charles I, the Interregnum, the Restoration, the Great Wind, the Great Freeze, the Glorious Revolution, the Act of Settlement, the hoving into view of the Treaty of Union, the work of Newton and Hooke and Boyle and the Royal Society. And Wren perhaps summing up everything in his "true language of the intellect...his calculus in stone and plaster and wood." That's the London this walk explores. It is, in a word, thrilling.  Guided by Hilary.
 
To go on the Samuel Pepys' London walk meet just outside the exit of Tower HillTube.
 

SCANDALOUS ST. JOHN'S WOOD VILLAGE

Mistresses, Mystics, Mansions, Artists, Courtesans, and Cricket

Call it The Secret ABC of Scandalous St. John's Wood.

Artists, Anglicans, Apocalypse...
Battles, Bishops, Blackmail...
Courtesans, Cricket, Cliques...

                                ...and very much more.

ABC right through to the XYZ of what went on behind the elegant facades and drawn curtains of this neat, tidy but ever so slightly risque corner of London. It wasn't only on Lords Cricket Ground that they bowled a maiden over. "St. John's Wood was the one place beyond all others where gentlemen of discretion provided for their mistresses in a proper manner, establishing them in quiet villas surrounded by sheltered gardens and high walls" (The Street and the Detective by A. L. Shearn).

C is for Corinna too, your guide and leading lady who tells the tales along the way with pictures and even the odd song or two.

To go on the Scandalous St. John's Wood - Mistresses, Mansions, Artisans, Courtesans & Cricket walk meet Corinna just outside St. John's WoodTube.  

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is on the north side of Acacia Road, then down St. Anne's Terrace.

The walks ends near St. John's WoodTube.


IN SEARCH OF DARK AGES LONDON
Clues and suggestions. We'll take them. We haven't got any choice. They're all we've got. And we'll work with them. Do what we can with them. In short, welcome to the Dark Ages. To a wander through the long dark night of 410 AD to 900 AD. They don't call those five centuries the Dark Ages for nothing. The archaeological and documentary sources are very scarce. They don't provide enough detail for historians to weave together a conventionally convincing portrait of the events of the period after the Roman occupation of London. But there are flickers of light that can be glimpsed across the long dark plain of that half a millennium. Flickers of light seen dimly. Seen from afar. They're what we've got to go on, they're the clues and suggestions to 25 percent of London's history.  Former Museum of London archaeologist Kevin Flude brings them together – a connecting up which strikes a few sparks in itself – to discuss what might have been going on in Dark Ages London. So, yes, say goodbye to information overload for a couple of hours. (Makes for a refreshing change.) And while it's not a lot, it's intriguing to see what is there – what the specialists have got and what they're doing with it. What they're able to do with it.
 
To go on the In Search of Dark Ages London walk meet Kevin outside MoorgateTube, the West side.
 
The walk ends near St. Paul's Cathedral (and thus St. Paul'sTube).
 

SEASON OF MISTS & MELLOW FRUITFULNESS

 The London of John Keats, Doctor & Poet

Follow young John Keats from his City birthplace, through his traumatic yet enriching childhood to the fulfilment of his intense wish "to do some good in the world", if not as a surgeon, then as " a poet..a sage, a humanist, Physician to all men."

To go on the Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness - The London of John Keats, Doctor & Poet Walk meet just outside the Bishopsgate exit of Liverpool StreetTube.

The Latecomers Catch-up Stop is in the churchyard of St. Botolphs, Bishopsgate.


SECRET ST. JAMES'S
 The Old Palace Quarter Pubby Perambulation.
 
"I'd put this one in the top four or five of the 54 different walks that I'm personally able to guide. It's got everything I want in a walk." (David). Okay, that's the "opinion" – here's what it's based on. 1) It's olde, vintage London. There are turnoffs – secret passageways – that take you into the 16th-century. And the 18th-century is par for the course. And it's so well preserved it's a miracle the whole neighbourhood hasn't been sold off to a museum! 2) So, as you'd expect, visually it's very appealing. 3) It's storied. It's storied because it's full of character, full of characters, and marinated in history. 4) It's nooked and crannied. Why is that important? "Well maybe it's just me, but I like to see things other people don't get to see" (David again). 5) It's got verray parfait pubs. 6) It's got a superb guide. Her name is Chris. N.B. the walk takes about two and a half hours and ends very near Piccadilly CircusTube. And Green ParkTube is also nearby.
 
To go on the Secret St. James's Pub Walk meet just outside the Green Park exit of Green ParkTube.
 

THE SECRET THAMES
Murdlarks, Mortuaries and The Mayflower

This is a walk through times present with powerful reminders of times gone by. The south bank of the River Thames is the historical focus - the dockland area which once featured the great commercial Surrey docks. They finally closed in 1970 and made way for a huge programme of regeneration and rebuilding. Even so there are still plenty of reminders of those bygone times.
 
And as for The Mayflower pub...well, you can put two and two together and get 1620 and the Pilgrim Fathers setting sail from this very spot in Rotherhithe on the first part of their journey to North America. From that tiny historical acorn...the mightiest oak on the planet. Food for thought, eh?
 
History, history everywhere. History in the air. History beneath your feet...for it was here in 1843 that the great visionary engineer Isambard Brunel created his "double tunnel"...the first to be built under the Thames.
 
And finally - this one's worth going on just to find the tiny old historic heart of the village itself. The ancient churchyard, the old pub, a few houses, a couple of tiny streets...there it is like a gnarled old piece of driftwood on the river's edge. And all the more arresting because you're standing there in the 17th-century and looking out over the river to futuristic London. It's vertiginously time-warpish. But delightfully so.

To go on The Secret Thames - Mudlarks, Mortuaries & The Mayflower walk meet Hilary just outside the exit of Tower HillTube Stop.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is on Tower Bridge itself.
 
The walk ends near RotherhitheTube Stop.
 

THE SECRET VILLAGE PUB WALK
The ancient, hidden village of Clerkenwell clings to a hillside barely a stone's throw away from St. Paul's Cathedral. Its very name – the clerks", or students", spring – is redolent of antiquity; and indeed this tiny hamlet serves up brimming draughts from the deep well of its history. Mystery plays and plague pits; riots and rookeries; bodysnatching and bombing; jousting and jesters; bloodshed and burnings; monks, murder, and medicine: Clerkenwell has a tale or two to tell. Tracing its narrow alleyways and ancient squares, we take in here a Norman church; there a magnificent Tudor gateway; round that corner venerable Charterhouse, London's only surviving mediaeval monastic complex; let alone Hercule Poirot's London flat and the trendiest house in town. And that's not to mention a sprinkling of superb old pubs. Pubs that are what pubs should be – traditional, time-honoured, hearts of oak! Guided by Sue. N.B. the walk takes about two and a half hours and ends at FarringdonTube.
 
To go on The Secret Village Pub Walk meet just outside exit 2 of St. Paul'sTube.
 

SERIOUSLY GEORGIAN Pub Walking in Huguenot Spitalfields
The neighbourhood that perhaps more than any other can turn back the flight of time's arrow. But – in the words of the author of the greatest guidebook ever written on London – Georgian Spitalfields, "which can become on close acquaintance almost the most exciting of London atmospheres, is the most difficult for tourists, particularly foreign tourists, to 'work' alone. A personal guide is the real answer, preferably someone who has lived in the East End and knows it backwards." Ask and thou shalt receive. Because that's what we've got on this walk. This is Sue's London. She knows exactly where to go, which turnings to take, what to show you. Knows the history. Especially the Huegenot history. And is able to fit the two together. Is able to 'work' the neighbourhood – thread* you through a lost world. A lost world of – yes, let's call on the rainwater clarity of David Piper's prose again – "surviving...often in a state of picturesque decay, individual houses and groups of houses from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." And pubs. And alleyways. And street furniture. And that's not to mention the "field work" close-ups. The way Sue teases out the meaning of odd details, connects surviving physical particulars to the history – everything from the concavity of ancient stone steps to the brick coursework to window sashes. The whole glorious panopoly. Special walk. N.B. the walk takes about two and a half hours and ends in or near Artillery Passage, a short walk from Liverpool StreetStation.  *the mot juste of course
 
 

SEX & THE CITY - Bawds, Bards, Brothels & Belles du Jour

Many London Walkers will be familiar with an American television programme that also goes by the name of Sex & the City. You can rest assured this walk has no connection with that show. For one thing, we're going a whole lot further than Sarah Jessica Parker and Co. We start long before 1963 (the year sex was invented, according to Philip Larkin). We're going back to some 60s that were way too sybaritic for anything as tame as "swinging" (swings? swings are for kids - swinging's what you do in a playground) - going back to some 60s that swaggered and swained and swanned and swapped and swanked and swarfed and sware and swashed and swattered and swayed and swealed and sweered and swigged and swilled and swindged and swished and swibbled and swingled and swooned and swizzled and swyved and swinked - especially in the boudoir. (Don't you just love dictionaries?) Going back - in short - to the 1660s. Back to when the skirt-raising, hell-raising, tankard-raising bar went higher - way higher - than it ever went before, or since. Back for a peek into the brothels, bagnios and bawdy houses of Restoration-era  covent Garden, where, according to the Tatler, every house in the area "from cellar to garret [was] inhabited by nymphs of different orders so that persons of every rank [could] be accommodated". After that bit of foreplay we'll call in - only figuratively, mind - at the house of ill repute where Mrs. Theresa Berkley kept "holly brushes, furze brushes; a prickly evergreen called butcher's bush, and during the summer a glass and China vases filled with a constant supply of green nettles with which she often restored the dead to life." And those who still have the stamina after all that will be pleased to know that we end up at Soho where London's reddest lights still shine, even if the late Mr. Paul Raymond will no longer be around to greet us. En route, all innuendos, insinuations and intimations will be enthusiastically bantered and gratefully received.

Created and guided by Ed Glinert, the "one man London gazeteer". Do ask him about his latest London book - he'll almost certainly have a copy or two to hand.


SHAKESPEARE TO WORDSWORTH POETRY WALK
Over Waterloo and Westminster Bridges and along the embankments between them. In this golden mile we find 15 poems or poets commemorated and pause to hear their walk. Including, of course, Shakespeare by the National Theatre and Wordsworth on Westminster Bridge.  N.B. this is one of our Poetry-in-Performance walks. All of which are guided by Lance – aka "The Voice".
 

SHERLOCK HOLMES & LATE VICTORIAN LONDON

"Shall they not always live in Baker Street? Are they not there this moment? Outside, the hansoms rattle through the rain, and Moriarty plans his latest devilry. Within, the sea coal flames upon the hearth and Holmes and Watson take their well-won ease....So they still live for all that love them well: in a romantic chamber of the heart, in a nostalgic country of the mind, where it is always 1895." And that, in a nutshell, is the London this walk explores and evokes.

To go on the Sherlock Holmes – 221 B Baker Street walk meet just outside the Baker Street north exit
of Baker StreetTube.

Baker StreetTube is on
theCircle
, Bakerloo & Jubilee Lines 

N.B. This is a completely different walk from the regularly scheduled, weekly – it takes place every Friday – In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes walk

"We met next day as he had arranged, and inspected the rooms at No. 221B, Baker Street...and at once entered into possession."
               A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


SHERLOCK HOLMES SAVES THE NATION!
Illustrious Clients. Greek Interpreters. Naval Treaties. Prime Ministers, secret agents and ‘a certain gracious Lady’. Holmes and Watson among the great and the good, discovering that crime is equally prevalent in High Society. The St James’ club where Holmes went to consult the mysterious Langdale Pike. Holmes’ clever brother Mycroft, who sometimes ‘was’ the British government: his lodgings in Pall Mall and the Diogenes Club. The library where Dr Watson did vital research to trap a devious murderer. The ‘little door’ where the Kaiser’s masterspy went to deliver his secret codes (until Sherlock stopped him). The original Scotland Yard. And why the area was familiar to a certain A. Conan Doyle. Follow the trail of Holmes and Watson in pursuit of missing submarine plans, mysterious ladies and devious politicians…
 
To go on the Sherlock Holmes Saves the Nation! walk meet the scintillatingly talented Richard IV outside the north exit of Green ParkTube Stop.
 
The Latecomer's "Catch-up Stop" is at the top of St. James's Street.
 
The walk ends near EmbankmentTube Stop (and Charing CrossTube Stop).
 

THE SHOCK OF THE OLD – 500 Years of West End Architecture
 500 Years of West End Architecture. And all the attendant fixtures and fittings. The characteristics of a given era's architecture. How it's an expression of that age's deeper concerns (what it says about  those times and the people who lived through them). The physical properties. Where the materials came from. How they got them here. How they "made" these buildings. What features of a given style of architecture were new and important in that era. In short, how to "read" these buildings. And of course, location, location, location. And personalities, personalities, personalities. How and why it all came about here, then. And, in best London Walks practice, the walk is guided by an architectural specialist, Steve Denford.
 
To go on the Shock of the Old walk meet Steve just outside the north exit of Green ParkTube.
 

ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS – Scientific London


Where, in such a concentrated area, could you find so much that has made our lives what they are today?  Here is a mine of discovery in all the sciences, biology, chemistry physics, medicine.  From weighing the earth, fighting gangrene, harnessing the power of steam to the Victorian Internet. Great names, great deeds, a great legacy.


What is it about London? Is it something in the air? Or the endless cups of tea? Or what?

I mean let's just do a quick inventory: this town is the theatre capital of the world; centre of the world's greatest literary tradition; world art capital; home of the finest public broadcasting system on the planet; fountainhead of parliamentary democracy; wellspring of the western judicial system;  fons et origo of a great deal of the most important economic thinking of the last three hundred years; world financial capital; the greenest big city on the planet; home to nine or ten major newspapers and a clutch of symphony orchestras; and into the bargain, the most livable major city in the milky way! 

Left anything out? Is there anything else? Well, yes, there is: science. And - sure enough - London's also a world capital of science.

Ergo this walk.

A walk that's a celebration and a parade and a galaxy. A celebration of wonders. A parade of famous names. And a galaxy of London's blue memorial plaques to honour the men and women scientists who've contributed so much to the world's well being.

Newton, Lister, Darwin, the Stephensons, Samuel Morse, Faraday, Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Garret Anderson - theirs is a mighty contribution to humanity. So let's do some London through the "science prism". Or do I mean do some science through the "London prism"? Surely a bit of both.

To go on the "On the shoulders of giants" - Scientific London walk meet Jean just outside the Baker Street north exit of Baker StreetTube.

The Latecomers catch-up stop is in Chiltern Street, which is just over the Marylebone Road from  Baker Street Station.

The walk ends near Euston station (the railway station and tube stop).
 


 
SLAVERY & THE CITY
Forging, Breaking & Burying the Chains. The stuff of this Tour du Jour. And pace Winston Churchill – this may have been London's finest hour. And before it, its worst. Because London was a leading actor in – profited enormously from – the slave trade. But a few good men and women took the evil on and saw it off. Their names ring down the centuries, the great and the good who fought for freedom: Wilberforce, Wedgewood, Wesley, Blake, John Newton, Cowper. And that's not to forget the lesser known who began the cause: Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, James Phillips and Oladouh Equiano. Truly, here in the bosom of the City beat the heart of compassion, answering the slave's cry, "Am I not a man and a Brother?" Amazing Grace indeed. "Spots of time" (and place) don't come any more important than this one. Which is why it's important to go and see where – to go over the ground, literally and figuratively – to travel back... to bear witness. Guided by Isobel. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at St. Paul's cathedral, a minute's walk from St. Paul'sTube.
 

A SLICE OF INDIA – "It's like walking through a Punjabi village"

I cheerfully fess up to wanting the London Walks leaflet – and its electronic version – to be the liveliest, best written and certainly the most "literary" and allusively rich leaflet in London! And a writer who's so far not put in an appearance is Mark Twain. Okay, okay, there is that cameo role in Mary's Chelsea Pub Walk, but, hey, there's no such thing as too much Mark Twain! And a single cameo role is, well, practically a dearth. How did Twain put it, "the reports of my dearth are greatly exaggerated." Sorry.

Anyway, how's this for a fanfare for the Slice of India Walk:

"India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.
Mark Twain 

Okay, let's step off Twain's magic carpet and look around. Take a quick survey of matters related to A Slice of India!

First of all, it's certainly a catch it while you can! Monisha's so busy right now with her new India Cookery School (I mean after all, hers are only the best Indian Cookery classes in the country!) that she's only able to give us a couple of Saturday outings per "season". One of which - whenever possible - coincides with Holi Festival Saturday in March. 

Anyway, here's the "blurb" for the Slice of India - "It's like walking through a Punjabi village" walk on a "normal" Saturday.

This one's like going to India without having to go halfway round the world. Indian food, fabric, films, music...it's all here, just a few minutes from the centre of London. And you couldn't be in better hands because Monisha, who guides us through these bustling, festive, friendly London streets, is a switched-on journalist and the author of several books on Indian food, culture and history. The lunch you'll have afterward - if you take one of her recommendations - will be a legend in your lifetime!

What's more, Southall's dead easy to get to. It's in Zone 4. And it takes no time at all - it's a lot quicker than going from, say, Harrods to St. Paul's. There are several trains an hour from Paddington  Railway Station. The fast trains take just 12 minutes. The "slow" train takes 16 minutes.

Other thing is, whenever possible we try to fit the walk in with a "Festival Day". Can't always guarantee that because of Monisha's schedule, but we do our best. Holi Festival in March - and something equally special in the autumn.

Now as for the Festival of Colours itself (Holi), it's basically the Indian equivalent of Mardi Gras! 

The India Express puts it this way: "as the brief spring warms the landscape, northern India cuts loose for a day of hijinx and general hilarity. The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, Holi is now a symbolic commemmoration of a legend from  Hindu Mythology." 

The Express goes on to say: "apart from the usual fun with coloured powder and water, Holi is marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of abandoned vitality."

"Abandoned vitality!" Sounds good to me!! But what really stopped me in my tracks is that "apart from the usual fun".

Did they say "coloured powder and water"? Hello.Yes, I don't know about you, but they got me. In a word, intrigued! Monisha just says, enigmatically, "if you see it you'll understand". Oh and she reassures me, "nobody in our group will be colour powdered - or watered". 

But it certainly does sound to me as if taking a camera might be a good idea.

In which connection, if any of you do happen to get a wonderfully razzmatazz photograph of the Festival of Colour in full swing...well, please share it with us. Or indeed give us a verbal account.

Only other thing to add - and this was always on the cards given my caught-in-the-web-of-words orientation (not to mention the way that Twain remark turns the heat up on the thing!) is: you really have to wonder if our word holiday is cognate with - or indeed comes from the Indian word "Holi". I can guarantee  you I'm going to try to find out...so check back here in a few days and I should be able to shed some light on it.

And no, I didn't forget: here it is:  www.cookingwithmonisha.com

Okay, to recap:

To go on the Slice of India tour meet Monisha outside
Southall  Railway Station.


"SOMEWHERE ELSE" LONDON
What a wonderful goulash of a walk this is. It gets you into streets that you'd never find off your own bat – streets that look like an old movie shot through a vaselined lens. Into a neighbourhood that precious few Londoners have seen, let alone visitors. It's a thrilling discovery – the real deal. There's no better sense of place in London – and no finer architectural effect. Yellow brick, perfectly preserved, all unselfconscious self-respect, real Cockney – unaltered Dickensian London. And the miracle is that it's still there, embedded in central London – screwed in to the big city. That discovery alone makes this one of those bewitching "somewhere else" London Walks. And getting there is a bit of all right too – because there's a dramatic river crossing, a stroll along the Thames, the world's foremost arts complex, London's best loved old theatre, a real London street market (instead of a tourist trap), a stunning bird's eye view of the capital (and there's a lift, so we won't have to climb hundreds of stairs!), and buckets of characterAnything else? Yes, here's a cracking little film trailer of the walk. Guided by Steve or Adam or Stephanie.
  
To go on the "Somewhere Else" London walk meet just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube. The walk takes about two hours. It ends a short way from Waterloo Station.
 

 
THE 'SOMEWHERE ELSE' LONDON PUB WALK
Here's the recipe. Stir in a couple of great old neighbouhoody pubs into the following walk and you've got it. What a wonderful goulash of a walk this is. It gets you into streets that you'd never find off your own bat – streets that look like an old movie shot through a vaselined lens. Into a neighbourhood that precious few Londoners have seen, let alone visitors. It's a thrilling discovery – the real deal. There's no better sense of place in London – and no finer architectural effect. Yellow brick, perfectly preserved, all unselfconscious self-respect, real Cockney – unaltered Dickensian London. And the miracle is that it's still there, embedded in central London – screwed in to the big city. That discovery alone makes this one of those bewitching "somewhere else" London Walks. Guided by Chris. N.B. the walk takes about two and a half hours and ends at the Festival Hall, just over the river from EmbankmentTube, but also very near WaterlooTube and Railway Station.
 
To go on The "Somewhere Else" London Pub Walk meet Chris just outside the exit of SouthwarkTube.
 

SOUTH KEN - Albertopolis, Alcazar & Alcoves
Fairy dust. Seven no trumps. Slice after slice of unreality. Carousel. Green matrix. Cultural Core. Urbane village. Mews and views to die for. Tot it up how you will this is the least likely neighbourhood in an unlikely city. It's a cabinet of curiosities: campanile, President Kennedy's house, the SAS, 140 billion frozen peas, Darwin, a Russian cathedral, South American shrunken heads, the weird subway that inspired the greatest London poem ever, Shackleton and Livingstone, a quarter of a million butterflies, the Apollo 10 command module, meteorites, earthquake simulator, Crystal Palace...let alone those secret, painter's palette mews (which you'd never find off your own bat) and the most astonishing piece of "countryside" you'll ever see – woodland, fen, pond, chalk downland, meadow – right in the heart of London. 
 
Meet Margaret or Fiona just beyond the ticket barrier
in the booking hall of South KensingtonTube.

South KensingtonTube is on
the Circle, District & Piccadilly Lines

 

SPITALFIELDS – the most fractious hamlet
Sins of the City, Wiles of the Wicked – that's the terrain we're heading into on this Tour du Jour. The City of London and Whitechapel. Two worlds that are worlds apart. Wedged in between them – where they collide and co-exist – Spitalfields. Monks, military manoeuvres and Bedlam: Huguenot silk weavers, Jewish refugees and Banglatown. Ever-changing and always fascinating with its two great markets – Spitalfields itself and Petticoat Lane – still in full swing. In the 1970s the slums were gentrified and Brit Art was born. Streets of eighteenth century houses were saved and the East India Co. warehouse transformed into elegant office space. It's ever-changing, but Nicholas Hawksmoor's imposing Christ Church still dominates. And apres-walk – how's coffee at Carluccio's sound? Or curry in Brick Lane? Guided by Andy R.  
 
To go on the Spitalfields – "the most fractious hamlet" walk meet Andy R. just outside the Bishopsgate exit of Liverpool StreetTube.
 

STRAND ON THE GREEN
"London's last remaining village"  And here's still more information!



Okay, today you're going to do what no tourist – or Londoner for that matter – ever does...walk over Kew Bridge and discover London's last remaining village" – i.e., Strand on the Green. Except that we're NOT going to do it the "obvious" way. We're NOT going to walk over Kew Bridge. Which is by way of saying, that opening is just to give you an ideas as to the whereabouts of Strand on the Green.

No, as you know, we "jump off" from GunnersburyTube (it's on the District Line). Our "run in" to Strand on the Green involves (in no particular order – and in any case I wouldn't try to thread my way down there on my own if I were you) crossing a hidden, utterly local footbridge over a little railway line and a nip through a tunnel under a motorway. Those two features, the railway line and the motorway
are a principal reason Strand on the Green is so well preserved – i.e., it's cut off, hard to find. And into the bargain – if you pick your streets right – which I've done, needless to say – you'll go past one of the most astonishing sights in London, especially given that you're in – on the ramble from Gunnersburystation to Strand on the Green – a fairly "ordinary" west London residential neighbourhood. I'm not going to give the game away, except to say that you better take your camera because what you'll see will knock your socks off. It's achingly blue and bulbous. More I'm not going to say.

And that's just the overture, the approach. As for Strand on the Green itself, it "straggles along the Thames for about 600 yards." River looks completely different up there. It looks like a country river. The "village" has three very fine old riverside pubs. And boy does this beautiful yet curiously remote spot ever "encapsulate" London's history. Human beings first came here about half a million years ago. Nomads, they followed their herds. All they left behind were their all purpose flint axes. A couple of them have been found here. And from those impossibly remote beginnings...well, Strand on the Green has been a palimpsest. Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Danish, Norman, Mediaeval, Tudor, Georgian, Victorian, 20th-century...all those "ages" have washed across this picturesque and barely known London "village".
 

You do the above – go on the walk, I mean – and you'll have bragging rights over all but about 15 or 20 of the 30 million tourists who come to London annually. None of  them crack this one open. And for that matter it's as much of a revelation to the handful of Londoners who go on this walk. 
 
 Bottom line: Strand on the Green is very very special.
 
We normally run the Strand on the Green walk twice a year. Always on a Saturday. On one Saturday in the summer programme; and on one Saturday in the winter programme. 

Meet me, David, just outside the Grange Road exit of GunnersburyTube.
 
 

SURGEONS & SAWDUST – The Gruesome History
 Get into the entrails of the alarming "blood and guts" history of medicine. Jean takes her scalpel to the London of Liston's infamous operation with its 300 % mortality, lifts the curtain on the miserable end of the "Merry Monarch", EGDs the greatest killer of 1918 (and no, it wasn't the Great War). You'll probe the delicate reason that prompted Lannec to invent the stethoscope and track down exactly why Sherlock Holmes was beating dead bodies at Bart's. This walk is in Jean's blood. She's researched and written the life of her great great great great grandfather, a "saw-bones" of Nelson's day, let alone surgeon-apothecary on prisoner-of-war hulks. (Just an aside here – had a rather different connotation back then, that word hulk, wouldn't you say!)
 

THE SYNFULLE CITIE – Slaves & Sherry, Wantons & Wenches
Is your past real to you? Yea. Thought so. Now extrapolate to the capital P Past. Yea, that's right. It's every bit as real as your past. Now let's apply that paradigm to this Walk. We're walking through the City of London today. In some other age the phantom of Governor Phipps is still walking where we're walking. Ditto the phantom of John Newton. And of Elizabeth Fry. And of Lady Jane Grey. And of Charles II and his bridge hand of mistresses. And so on.  Walking into this church, for example. Or this hall. Or this prison. Or this street. This London. Ruthven Todd's famous World War II London poem ends: A city remains a city on credit from the tide That flows among its rocks, a sea of men. And of women. This walk catches some of the currents of that tide. Thrilling currents. Currents that have to do with the abolition of slavery – with the man who wrote Amazing Grace and the woman who wrote the English equivalent of Uncle Tom's Cabin; and with the Salem Witchcraft Trial; and with the women in Newgate gaol (Hilary's ancestor worked with Elizabeth Fry in Newgate Prison – you'll hear some of her ancestor's accounts of that work); and with Suffragettes "chaffing" a Lord Mayor's Banquet; and with trials; and, always, with concupiscence. "In some other age phantom..." But are they phantoms? The places they knew remain. Their stories remain. The changes they wrought remain. Fascinating walk. Guided by Hilary.
 

THE TEA & COFFEE WALK – Cupfuls of History
 
A Coffee Shop on every street corner? Today Coffee Shops abound in London. Plus ça change. Because a merchant, resident or visitor to London some 300 years ago would have found a similar scene. They were the centre of city life, the place to be to gain information on ships arriving in the docks, to exchange stocks and shares or to debate matters of the day. Their legacy can be seen today in insurance, the Stock Exchange, auctioneers, newspapers and financial institutions. Then the good old cuppa tea began to take over, in the home, in the pleasure gardens and tea rooms. Arriving on the tea clippers to be sold at the Tea Auctions. This walk traces the history of the tea and coffee trade in London.

Coffee shops have regained a following they haven’t enjoyed since they first blossomed here in the C17th.

Coffee houses have become the social fulcrum of society, the so-called Third Place between home and office – very often because many people, in an age of portfolio careers and nomadic teleworking, no longer have offices to which they regularly go.

It is a fitting revival for a meeting place that has shaped history, commerce, literature and revolution. Lloyd’s began life as a coffee house in London offering insurance for the British empire’s merchant fleet. So did London’s Stock Exchange, and the Tatler and The Spectator. The auctioneers Sotheby’s and Christie’s grew from salerooms attached to coffee houses. They were havens where people of all classes met to discuss business and art, politics and philosophy: and to gossip. Johnson, Dryden and Swift were regulars.

Charles II was not a fan seeing London’s coffee houses as ‘places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Minsiters’. Little has changed. Today that job is being done by the chap with the latte posting on his political blog.
 

TEMPLES, TOMBS, MUMMIES & OBELISKS
Unwrapping Egyptian London

Imagine a great and ancient city by a river. A city with obelisks, sphinxes and statues of the Gods. A city where gardens where lotus and papyrus, dates, pomegrants and incense bushes grow. A city where the honoured dead are buried in elaborate tombs. No, you didn't guess it. For this is not Memphis or Luxor...it is London.

This walk features 10,000 square foot paintings, an Egyptian office block, camels, mummies, Nelson's column, London's only Egyptian toilets, the only member of the British peerage to be mummified, the real Cleopatra's needle, sex, drugs, murder, the severed head of the Father of Egyptology, temples, tombs, more mummies. It also features the guide who is the leading authority on "Egyptian London"...and whose book on the subject will be published in 2005.

To go on the Temples & Tombs, Obelisks & Mummies - Unwrapping Egyptian London walk meet the guide just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube Stop.
 
The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is in the Embankment Gardens.

The walk ends near Tottenham Court RoadTube Stop.
 

TERRA INCOGNITA – Seeing the Elephant in Souf London
For this Tour du Jour a part of the metropolis where the English language and pronunciation sometimes collide! Spectacularly. A demolition derby. So you head in here (hear?) with your ears open as well as your eyes – it's fun to hear the argot and the accent. Traditionally it was cloth caps and costers, Cor Blimey!, morf and souf, apples & pears (stairs), loads-a-dosh, and dodgy geezers. You don't ask too many questions round 'ere – except of the guide of course. The famous Elephant & Castle pub, once a smithy, was converted to a tavern in 1760. Blitzed to smithereens in World War II, the area was redeveloped around two giant roundabouts. Architect Erno Goldfinger took a big hand in the area with his Ministry of Health building. The area was also famed amongst the capital's coolest cats for its Ministry of Sound nightclub. All in all it's a pretty strong mix – a terra incognita – but then I'm sure you're up for it. Guided by Isobel
 
To go on the Terra Incognita walk meet just outside the South Bank University exit of Elephant & CastleTube.
 

THAMES BEACHCOMBING

10,000 years of history beneath your feet!

The Beachcombing walks are "special" in every way. (And I'm speaking from first hand experience...because I've been on three or four of them myself. Talk about a busman's holiday!) Let me count the ways. First of all: wonderful guide. Which is always – always – the most important factor. The foreshore – the "beachcombing" – walks are guided by Fiona H. An Inter-tidal Aracheologist (and Archaeological illustrator), she's a leading authority on the Thames foreshore. (She's also excavated in many near Eastern and central European countries. Given papers all over the world...well, you get the idea.) But she's the rest of the package too. She's a lovely gal – warm, friendly, enthusiastic, great with kids (she's got her Super Mum merit badge several* times over)...the whole kit and caboodle. *Six children!

What do you do on a Beachcombing walk? Well, there are several elements. Fiona often kicks off with fascinating stuff on marine wildlife. And needless to say, she knows where to look and what to look for. So you see critters! And some of their life stories – the Thames eel, for example – are, well, just extraordinary. Theirs is a biography that almost beggars belief:  they start out in the Sargasso sea - tiny little thread-like creatures – make their way across the Atlantic, up the Thames, do what they have to do – by this time  they're a good size – picture a couple of feet or so of a garden hose and you'll get the idea – and then, well, it's time to turn round and head back across the Atlantic, head home to die (providing, that is, they don't get sidetracked – so to speak – into a Cockney eel and pie establishment)...well, you'll get my drift.

Then after fin, feather, fur, fauna, scale, etc. she will usually move on to the human "footprint" on the foreshore. Some of it small enough that you can pick up, examine, put in your pocket, take home and put on your mantlepiece (or, in the case of the mediaeval roof tiles – use for candle holders!). Some of it way too big to take home. Revetments, foundations, supports, fragments of quays...that sort of thing. Stuff that you and I almost certainly wouldn't even notice...or if we did notice we wouldn't have a clue what is was for, how old it was, etc.

Dont forget to wear sensible shoes and bring a bag for your swag – your finds! Meet Fiona at Mansion HouseTube exit 1


TUDOR WHITEHALL – The Forbidden City
"A great court surrounded by buildings without either symmetary* or beauty worth mentioning." The Old Whitehall Palace might not have been an architectural wonder, but it certainly saw some extraordinary events. One king executed, another fleeing into the night, only knowing for certain which way the wind was blowing. Jousting, tournaments, masques and balls. Lavish dinners and angry mobs. Plots and intrigues. Let's walk with award-winning Fiona and find out who built the Palace, where it stood, what you can still see of it, and why it's better to dry your petticoats in the garden, not in front of the fire. What was Mrs Cromwell's legacy and who thought that cucumbers made a good ornamental vegetable? *And, yes, it's true – the palace was as fantastic as their spelling!
 
To go on the Tudor Whitehall walk meet Fiona just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube.
 

UNEXPECTED LONDON
For the connossieur. A collector's piece of a walk – one that'll change the way you see central London. It teems with unexpected delights, odd places and passing strange things and people. You'll crack the mystery of the Trafalgar Square lions (and a royal statue), learn how an acrobat risked everything at St. Martin's in the Fields, and whether the spinning dome at the top of the Coliseum actually spins. Orson Welles and Sir John Betjeman put in an appearance – as does the most eccentric bookshop in the world. Enjoy! And afterwards you can spoil yourself with cream cakes and tea. Guided by Hilary or Kim.  The walk takes about two hours and ends in Soho Square, very near Tottenham Court RoadTube.
 
To go on the Unexpected London walk meet just outside the exit of EmbankmentTube.
 

The Unknown East - See It Before 2012!
 
"The future belongs to the East" the Lonely Planet Guide declared earlier this year.
 
In 2012 the world will be focusing on a small area of East London. It will never be the same again. Before the millions arrive come and see a hidden area known only to short-cutting locals. (Okay, District Line passengers catch a brief glimpse of it.)
 
The secret jewels include a stunning Gothic cathedral - but it's not an Oh Dieu job, it's an odure job. In short, behold - take your hat off to - a stunning Gothic cathedral to the sewage of Londoners. And you've probably never thoazalgette, thought about that - which means Mr. Bazalgette, the Victorian architect, did his job. So to speak. And in fact you're walking on his sewage pipes. You'll also see a bit of the Kent countryside here in East London. And the Grade I listed oldest and largest tidal mill in the country - it fuelled the gin craze in London. And right next door is a famous film studio. We'll look across the Thames at some of the monuments that make the future East: Canary Wharf and the Docklands and the now famous o2 (Dome). We'll follow some of the waterways that criss-cross this area and the Olympic site. Because  of them - and 2012 - it will surely be dubbed the new Venice. And how profoundly satisfying to have seen it first! We'll get a great view - the best view - of the Olympic site. See what's really happening. Infinitely better than having to rely on what the newspapers tell us.
 
The walk will start and end at West Ham station on the Jubilee, District and H + C tube and C2C train services.
And despite it being August the walk might be muddy - wear your sensible shoes and leave your best shoes for tonight.
 
Created and Guided by bright-as-button new Blue Badge Guide, Julianne
 

UP AND DOWN THE CITY ROAD – That's the Way the Money Goes

"Try to follow the golden thread, however thin,
because it's the city's real lifeline."

So where does the golden thread take us? Into the least known quarter of this ancient city, that's where. Into nooks and crannies where London's wondrous strange past rises up like a mirage. Here a stretch of the old Roman wall with its bastions and fort makes a defiant last stand. There venerable livery halls of the City Guilds – galleons lying at anchor – attend to business, as they've done for centuries. Round that corner an ancient church or two – flinty sentinels and signposts to the eternal landscape of the past – keep the 21st century at bay. Hard by, John Wesley's house and London's eeriest old graveyard weather the ages. And everywhere, the rustle of the shades and the voices – like distant drums – of Roman centurians and town criers and cockney flower girls.In short, this one's all about contrast: the ancient past nestling amidst the glass Temples of Mammon, of 21st century London.

Up and Down the City Road Walk goes from just outside exit 2 of
St. Paul'sTube.

The Latecomers Catch-up Stop is at the Wesley Flame, near the Museum of London.

The Walk ends at Liverpool Street Station.


A VILLAGE IN PICCADILLY
This is a dream of a walk. A dream because beautiful places, beautiful things flow past like blossoms on slow water. Yeah, some village. Realm's more like it. The realm of riches, rank and those who rule. The purlieus of those who possess. The efflorescenes of effortless superiority and ancient lineages. In its irresistible goody bag: elegant arcades, secret doorways and peekaboo views; Gentlemen's clubs; Burlington House and the Albany; London's best shopping street; tea and royal chocolates (we sample them, gratis); Nelson's perfumier (more gratis sampling); the world's smallest – and toniest – privately funded police force; mad, bad and dangerous to know Byron; Brummel to Brando; Jermyn to Marilyn; exclusive, eccentric, best-dressed London; magnet for artists, writers, royals, scientists, dreamers and dandies; Darwin to James Bond; the Prince Regent to Prince Harry; the greatest act of literary vandalism ever. It's Old Money London. It's Georgian. It's Regency. It's Victorian. It's Edwardian. It's Parisian. It's parfait. It's part Wonderland, part Arabian Nights. CUE: it's not just what you see – as fine as that is – it's the stories. Stories that print the light and tilt the stones. And not that this one needs a deal closer but nudge nudge – this walk's not just visual and aural. It's a full-on sensory experience. Bears repeating. With Katy and Karen as your entrees you'll taste the Queen's favourite culinary treat and whiff scents specially created for VIPs. Hmmmmm. Some dream. A dream that leaves you feeling completely, even exuberantly, in the pink! But see for yourself – here's a taster, a preview of the walk in the shape of a little video "trailer". Guided by Karen or Katy.
 
To go on the Village in Piccadilly walk meet Katy or Karen near the Criterion restaurant just outside exit 4 of Piccadilly CircusTube. (Exit 4 is the Eros exit.)
 

VIVA VAUXHALL
Thames & Tea, Potteries & Pleasure Gardens. That's what's where we're taking you on this Tour du Jour. "Yea, right, Vauxhall," you say. Okay, let's answer the implied question: why go on the walk? Because there's something very solid and inspiring going on in Vauxhall, that's why. It is of course known for its historic pleasure gardens, for giving its name to a car, for being home to Jeffrey Archer and MI6, but probably most of all to the many people who drive through it or see it from the windows of trains, for a fearsome traffic junction. Which is to say, it's really not known at all. This is central London that's well and truly undiscovered London. But it's worth uncovering – discovering. Because away from the slash and gash of the multi lanes and railway lines, this neighbourhood is full of character and interest. It's anything but non-descript. As guide Isobel puts it, "the more I researched the walk, the more I got the sense of overlapping strong communities; of individuals and groups who have created important local projects with little cash and a lot of what the business community likes to call blue sky thinking. Blue sky and yet very earthed." Guided by Isobel.
 

WAPPING TALES – Ships, Pirates & Murders
"The gulls cry and the hull's wake make far voyagers of us all, but here the provocation is extreme."
 
So: stubbly with goodness, not to say bravado and bravura, we're heading into the waterscapes of the old Dockland – gnarled, mysterious, romantic old Dockland – where tugs used to hoot and barges swung and cranes and warehouses still loom spectrally out of the river fog coming off our verdigrised bronze stream. Heading along Wapping High Street as it twists and sulks between towering, curving brick walls. It's a walk through a series of not wholly credible stage sets, a walk amid river smells that can be tasted, through river sounds that can still be heard snorting and hooting and cawing. A walk past cobbled ways and water lanes and through the most extraordinary history in London. Everything from Captain Kidd swinging at Execution Dock to Hanging Judge Jeffreys (waiting for the tide at Wapping so he could make his getaway and fatally having to have a skinful and so being trapped like a rat) to the oldest pub in London.
  
 
That all? No. Not quite. T'other thing is this one comes with a cast iron guarantee of quality: because it was created and is guided by Hilary, one of the brightest stars in the London Walks constellation. And that's really saying something.
 

THE WEST END ON FILM – from John Wayne to Jack Wild
From the first moving picture shows in the West End to modern film premieres. From one of the last great silent movies, and one of the first great sound films, to a contemporary horror film and a recent Disney success. Scotland Yard on film and a ‘bridge of spies’. David Niven on both sides of the law, Michael Caine as the coolest of secret agents (and how he really got his name), Anna May Wong catching the bus, Helen Mirren winning an Oscar at the Palace, and Alfred Hitchcock showing how it pays to advertise. Jack Wild and the perils of filming with concealed cameras, and John Wayne following a heist at Piccadilly and chasing Tony Robinson! From the iconic to the obscure, and from 007 to Daleks, an affectionate look at the West End in the movies.

To go on the West End on Film walk meet the epically talented Richard IV outside the Broadway/Westminster Abbey exit of St James’ ParkTube Stop.

The Latecomers "Catch-up point" is in St James’ Park, on the bridge

The walk ends near Charing CrossTube Stop.
 

WEST HAMPSTEAD
A butterfly darting among blossoms. That's Mary guiding in West Hampstead. Best kind of London Walk. It's got the extra ingredient – the secret ingredient – the personal. In short, Mary's guiding "at home" with this one. West Hampstead's where she lives. So, spliced into – spiced into? – the walk are all manner of tasty, local "personal knowledge" tidbits that you wouldn't get, couldn't get any other way.* For example (wonderfully quirky example), "that bathtub" in the front garden. It's on a street you wouldn't normally go up and for that matter it's not easy to spot if you do wander up that way. And that's before Mary switches on the high beam: whose bathtub it was and what's her (Mary's) connection to it. Other thing is West Hampstead is in the shadow of its more famous sibling. Hampstead gets all the attention. West Hampstead just gets on with being itself – a fine old Victorian London village that's an awfully agreeable place to live. And that's by way of saying, West End Lane – the winding high street – is the extent of most people's knowledge of West Hampstead. If they know it at all. But there are all kinds of secret places – and secret history – just off "the Lane." Delightful places. Piquant history. Blossoms the butterfly darts among. Good walk.
 
*There are lots of walking tours that it would be possible for you to create a simulacrum of. You wouldn't do it because – done properly – it would take getting on for 100 hours. Wouldn't be a good use of your time – not when you can get the walk for two hours and a few pounds. But this is one you couldn't create a simulacrum of. Not unless you've lived up here for decades and been very actively, centrally involved in the life of the community.
 
To go on the West Hampstead walk meet Mary just outside the exit of West HampsteadTube.
 

WESTMINSTER WOMEN
Witty & Worthy, Wicked & Warlike, Wild & Waesome
 
You man enough? Or woman enough? To meet them, deal with them: The Women of Westminster. That's right, we've got ourselves – for today's Tour du Jour – a walk that celebrates International Women's Month. A walk that encounters women who battled, campaigned, fought and talked. From Boudicca, proud atop her chariot, to Stella Isaacs, the founder of the wartime WRVS – their courage, their resourcefulness, their fearlessness, their defiance – takes your breath away. There was nothing these ladies could not achieve. The Pankhursts strove for votes for women and Nancy Astor and Margaret Thatcher became important firsts in the  House of Commons. Their stories together with society ladies' and social workers', not to mention WT Stead and his exposure of child prostitution in his Maiden Tribute, well, it's good, strong, heady, fighting, stirring stuff. Makes for a fascinating couple of hours. Guided by Rachel. 
 
To go on the Westminster Women walk meet Rachel outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube.
 

WHAT HO, JEEVES! – The London of P.G. Wodehouse
Mayfair between the wars. The land of Galahad Threepwood, Bingo Little and Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright. The house where Wodehouse lived for much of the 1930s. The real locations behind the Drones Club. Grosvenor Square and the girl who yearned for it. The famous actor who was an inspiration behind Bertie Wooster, the place where Bertie bought the Old Etonian spats which outraged Jeeves, and the bookshop where he, most unfortunately, ended up with a copy of Spindrift. The home of a close Wodehouse friend and colleague. The little tea shop near the Ritz where romance blossomed. The club where an impecunious peer worked as secretary. P G Wodehouse, genius of comic writing, was backwards and forwards between London and New York throughout the 20s and 30s, and the fictional world he created around his real London never grew old. Over 90 years on since the immortal Jeeves first shimmered into view, the traces of the Master’s favourite corner of London can still be found…
 
To go on the "What Ho, Jeeves!" The London of P.G. Wodehouse walk meet Richard IV just outside the Park Lane exit of Marble ArchTube.
 
The "Latecomers' Catch-up Stop" is in Norfolk Street.
 
The walk ends near Piccadilly Circus.
 
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WILLIAM MORRIS & FRIENDS
Arts and Crafts in Hammersmith. Yes, that's the sub-title for this Tour du Jour. And what I'm telling you is, whatever you do don't be fooled by it. This walk is a walk that banishes bland. It's a well-I-never from first to last. The man, his circle, the neighbourhood, the history – they're all so worth getting to know. Our man was the anti-parliamentarian who wanted to turn the Houses of Parliament into a dung-house. Designer. Artistic entrepreneur. Radical. Traditionalist. Founding father of British Socialism. Poet. Story teller. Best seller. Dreaming boy. Bearded patriarch. Translator of Icelandic epics. Husband of a Pre-Raphaelite icon (whose affair with Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a Victorian show-stopper). This is his London. A couple of particulars. 1.) We're usually able to visit WM's riverside house. 2) He spent the last 18 years of his life here – this was his neighbourhood. It was an arts and crafts hot-house: bookbinding, calligraphy, silversmithing, printing... there was creation here, there were beautiful things here. 3) Still are, not least because we'll be walking along one of the loveliest stretches of the Thames. Guided by Ann. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends near HammersmithTube.
 
To go on the William Morris & Friends walk meet Ann just outside the exit of Stamford BrookTube.
 

IN WINSTON CHURCHILL'S FOOTSTEPS – London's Finest Hour
This is a walk round the Whitehall "theatre of operations" where Winston Churchill fought some of his greatest battles against the enemy in the two World Wars and earlier where he fought some of his most bitter battles against his opponents in Whitehall and the House of Commons. To look at these buildings with his words ringing in our ears - and to know what hung in the balance - western civilisation itself on  more than one occasion - well, it's like applying the most extraordinary photographic filter to some of London's most famous buildings. They take on a penumbra...they seem to glow from within. It's shiver up the spine stuff.

The walk ends at the Cabinet War Rooms, Winston Churchill's World War II headquarters, his underground bunker...now a museum. If you want to visit them - and they're well worth seeing - Hilary will get you a handsome reduction on the price of admission!

To go on the In Winston Churchill's Footsteps - London's Finest Hour walk meet Hilary just outside EmbankmentTube Stop.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is under the arches in nearby Villiers Street.

The walk ends near WestminsterTube Stop.


 
THE WRITE STUFF IN LITERARY BLOOMSBURY
The London of Virginia Woolf, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, J. M. Barrie, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, Dorothy Sayers, Ted Hughes & Sylvia Plath, Thackeray, Marx, etc. 
 
What larks! What plunges!  Because this walk also explores "the other Bloomsbury" – the Bloomsbury the tourists don't get to see.The problem – for them, not us – is the sheer gravitational "pull" of  the British Museum and Virginia Woolf and co. "We take chairs and sit on our balcony after dinner... Really Gordon Square, with the lamps lit and the light on the green is a romantic place" (V. Woolf). And, sure, we'll "do" that quarter. But we also "go" centrifugal – "do" undiscovered Bloomsbury. And you'll be very glad we do because that marvelous old writ – "London specialises in hiding the best of itself" – applies here in spades. Okay, time for a taster. Amongst much else, we'll see London's tiniest street, its most literary street (no, it's not in Virginia Woolf's Gordon Square neighbourhood), a Sylvia Plath-Ted Hughes house, the "nodal point" where the most important moment in the 20th century occurred, London's most beautiful square, etc. – and trust me, it's a capacious, cup-runneth-over "etc.". Bottom line: this is a very special walk! N.B. To get a reading (so to speak) on this one when when we do it as a pub walk (the which is always flagged with the subtitle The Literary London Pub Walk in Old Bloomsbury) simply mix a couple of great old pubs into the above! Guided by Andy R. or David. The walk takes a couple of hours and ends near HolbornTube and Tottenham Court RoadTube.
 
To go on The Write Stuff Walk meet just outside the main exit – the Kingsway exit – of HolbornTube.
 

X-RATED LONDON
They say a bit of scandal and gossip makes the world go round. It's no different in the Westminster "village" - as the newshounds call it - where the MP-villagers and the rest of the political class like a bit of scandal (sexual if possible) to spice up affairs of state.
 
Walk the walk; hear the talk of escapades by MPs - Members of Parliament (and their members), Ministers and their members (that's enough members! Ed.), call girls ('high class' ladies naturally) and even some of our most distinguished national poets. Hear too of how and why the revered OBE - Order of the British Empire - became known as the Order of the Bad Eggs!
 
X-RATED LONDON - Secrets & Scandals; Politicians, Poets & Playboys
goes from WestminsterTube exit 4.
 
The "Latecomers' Catch-up Stop" is by the George V statue, opposite the House of Lords
 
The walk ends near Green ParkTube.

YANKS FOR THE MEMORY
American London (pre Starbucks)
This one's normally a Thanksgiving weekend, Yankee Doodle Dandy stroll that explores London's links across the pond, the links between Britain and its Colonies in North America.

William Penn, the Puritans, the voyage of the Mayflower, the imnportance of trade to both sides, the only Governor of an American colony to be executed on Tower Hill...it's all here.

To go on the Yanks for the Memory - American London (pre Starbucks) meet Hilary just outside Tower HillTube.

The "Latecomers Catch-up Stop" is in Tower Hill Gardens.

The walk ends near St. Paul'sTube.


 
                                                       Photo by John Gray