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

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).

This is the site that everyone is flocking to since the arrival of the Eurostar at St Pancras station. Explore two newly renovated Victorian stations and unlock the secrets to the surrounding area. Once London's most notorious red light district and a favourite film location, this area has undergone a rapid transformation at the same time preserving the gothic splendour of the Midland Grand Hotel, the vast granary and German Gymnasium while adding new sculptures and public spaces.
This walk is part of the Behind the Termini series of walks conducted by Rachel. To go on the All Change at King's Cross walk meet Rachel outside the Post Office on Euston Road, opposite King's Cross Railway Station. 


“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: perhaps the most significant new walk to be added to the London Walks repertory in the last 25 years! 

And there's no reason to be coy about the genesis of this walk. The plain fact of the matter is St. Pancras 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!

Guided by Tom, Brian, Richard III.

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.



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 bear witness.

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

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.

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!

Anglo-Saxons first. That period is 25 percent of London's history but people know next to nothing about it. They know about Londinium and the Romans. They of course know about 1066 and the Normans. But the Anglo-Saxon period is a closed book. Real shame, that. Real shame 1) because the period is very interesting; and 2) because it's formative. The Anglo-Saxons laid the foundations for our London. Everything from London's street pattern to place names to the way the place is organised and many of its great instiutions. Wards, parishes, even the guilds – at least linguistically – trace their lineage back to the Anglo-Saxons. To understand today's London you have to understand Anglo-Saxon London. Your London mind is sparsely furnished – impoverished – if you don't know the differences between Lundenwich and Lundenburgh. Why they were where they were. Why they "came into being" when they did. Who the principle actors were, etc. Anyway, look, help is at end. In the shape of this walk. It'll rout ignorance, replace it with rich understanding. And that's just the Anglo-Saxons. As the title makes clear, the walk will move on to the gob-smacking changes the Normans wrought. Everything from their two principal fortresses (and why they were where they were) to "Extramural London." And finally – what a course to finish this sumptuous feast with – the Early Middle Ages. You want to understand London's history think of it as an arc, an arch. This walk – the period it covers – is the keystone in that arch. Anything else? Yes, this walk's not just narrative and mind's eye stuff – we're back hundreds of years but there's a surprising amount of ocular proof, stuff to see with your eyes as well as your mind. From the get-go. There are three brilliant examples – ranging right across our period – right at the beginning of the walk.
To go on the Anglo-Saxon, Norman & Early Mediaeval London walk meet just outside the exit of Tower HillTube. (Meet by "Tower Hill Tram" coffee stall.)

Exactly what it says on the tin. Guided by former Museum of London archaeologist Kevin Flude, this walk is both a survey and in places a richly detailed look at the Archaeology and History of Southwark. It begins with the prehistoric origins - prehistoric origins which make it the most interesting area of London in this time frame. It then traces the origins and development of the Roman City on small islands in the Thames, and the mystery of what happened to the area during the so-called Dark Ages. The walk concludes with the recent excavations of the remains of the Elizabethan and Jacobean Theatre.
To go on the Archaeology & History of Southwark walk meet Kevin just outside the Tooley Street exit of London BridgeTube.

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.

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.

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 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!

"Come quickly! I am drinking the stars."* Was rush of excitement – and elation – ever better put? Happens here from time to time. Different words but same sense of excitement and elation. The London Walks parlance for "come quickly, I am drinking the stars" is the two little words:  exclusive access. They do it every time: rush of excitement; elation;  clenched fist, air punched and a hugely satisfied "YESSSS! London Walks does it again." Ok, so what is it about this walk that makes it a London Walks champagne moment? You ready? Try Exclusive Access to the most extraordinary palace of entertainment in London. And I mean Exclusive Access – both sides of the curtain access. So come right on in. This way for in front of and beyond the curtain access to the temple of wonder where horses were raced, airships were sailed, swimmers were synchronised and battles recreated. It's a chariot ride from music hall days via wartime musicals to opera and beyond. It's stepping into another world. It's marvelling at the outrageous flamboyant architecture, vision, confidence and ambition of our forbears. They live on here. And it's not just the opera. We'll be visiting a couple of other very special "elsewheres" – keeping them for a surprise, though. Anything else? Yes, we've got the best possible guide for this one. That's an understatement – this walk, this access couldn't have happened without Freddie. Man and boy he's lived, breathed and battled the London theatre. And come through it to tell the tale – when he's not directing. From front of house farce to backstage badinage via acting atrocities to operatic outrageousness, Freddie's experience of the West End theatre scene,  past, present and beyond is nonpareil. Come quickly, you'll be drinking the stars.
*Dom Pérignon's champagne moment. He'd just invented – and had the first ever taste of – the bubbly.
To go on the Backstage at the Opera walk meet Freddie just outside the Villiers Street exit of EmbankmentTube. The walk ends across the street from Leicester SquareTube.

The Power & the Glory, Money & Magnificence, Lust & Loopiness
The grandest London drawing room of them all. That's where we're headed. And first things first: there's no other neighbourhood in London like this. It looks different. Feels 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, "the Special One", "the assassinated one", the one who mistook Hitler for a butler and handed him his coat, the list goes on and on. 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 hideaways and vistas of sudden surprise – we'll make some wonderful discoveries. Guided by Stephanie.
To go on the daytime* Backstairs Belgravia The Power & the Glory, Money & Magnificense, Lust & Loopiness walk meet Steph just outside the exit of Sloane SquareTube.
*N.B. Our pub walk in Belgravia – Backstairs Belgravia  Byways, Hidden Haunts & Classic Pubs – starts at Hyde Park CornerTube, exit 3.

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. 

Gust inexpressible. That’s how I feel about this walk.

Well, not completely inexpressible. But gust for sure.

I mean we start with – start at – Baker Street. So Sherlock Holmes for starters, what’s not to like about that. And, yes, we’ll go by the “221 B Baker Street” Museum. But a great London Walk isn’t a series of (musical) notes. It’s a series of chords. The chord here – right where we are – is Sherlock Holmes and the bank of one of London’s rivers – the Tyburn. Putting the Thames to one side (for a minute), rivers don’t loom much larger in British History than the Tyburn. After all, its branches defined Thorney Island, the site of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. And, thus, the egg-with-a-double-yolk nature of London, which is, when you get right down to it, the reason this is the unique city.

Moving on – and what a move on (gust inexpressible indeed) – one of the world’s (let alone London's) great views – the magnificence of Regent’s Park and John Nash’s classic buildings (the Magnificent Seven). Let alone the lake – another instance of the River Tyburn getting in on the act in a stunning way.

Then it’s more river walking – Tyburn River walking (it’s great fun to find out exactly where it was and walk “along its banks” – to another of Nash’s great creations: the Regent’s Canal. And – fun (and fascinating), this – a major shift in register here. It’s a different world we've stepped into here. A different world bouquet’d with incidental delights – “The Upside Down House”, for example. And, there in memory wisps (and Roger and Co.’s verbal recreations), let alone some topographical clues: an early incarnation of Thomas Lord’s cricket ground.

And then another dissolve – see what I mean, more gust – another vista: Little Venice. Arguably the most beautiful residential neighbourhood in the world. Houses after the manner of Palladio. Willow trees on the island in the centre of the lake. No wonder it was home – and/or inspiration – to so many poets, authors, actors and playwrights.

Yeah. Gust Inexpressible? Well, sure, for the glow this walk gives off. But gust visible for those pretty important organs: the eyes. And gust audible for their chums, your ears. And there are certainly gust comestibles for the t buds at the canalside cafes at walk’s end.
For the dates that this walk takes place, click here.

To go on The Baker St. – River Tyburn – Regent's Canal – Little Venice Walk meet Roger
(or one of his Inland Waterways Association colleagues)
at Baker StreetTube (north/Lords exit)
The walk ends near PaddingtonTube (Hammersmith & City line)

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 – - 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

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. Rachel's is "the short version." I – David – am in the process of writing a significantly different "long version" for each of them. At the end of each "short version" will be a link to the "long version". Neither Rome nor long versions get built in a day, so as of this writing all we've got is the King's Cross one (see below). The others are in the pipeline.
Liverpool Street – Where The City meets The East End
Not in the Summer 2015 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, October 18 (2015) 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 May 31 (2015) at 2.30 pm
Short version: 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. For more information click here – the which click will take you to the "long version" blurb. 
Meet: Outside Post Office on Euston Road, opposite King's Cross station

Victoria – Gateway to the Continent
Not runing in the Summer 2015 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'
Not running in the Summer 2015 programme but can be booked privately
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 Three New Ones...
Marylebone – Antiques, Beatles & Cricket
Sunday, July 5 (2015) at 2.30 pm
With a luxury hotel as protection from a busy main road, the quiet streets behind London's last main-line station host a veritable ABC including Alfies Antique Market, a famous Beatles film location and the birthplace of Lords cricket. Together with Mr Blue Plaque, the author of 101 Dalmations, the bravery of the SOE and the social housing of Octavia Hill this is a most surprising area to explore. Guided by Rachel. 
Meet: Marylebone Railway Station (upstairs concourse, by the entrance to MaryleboneTube)

Charing Cross – Secrets of the Strand
Sunday, September 20 (2015) at 2.30 pm
The network of narrow steep streets around the elaborately fronted Charing Cross station leads down to the Thames hosting memories of long-gone food markets,  riverside palaces, revolting peasants and Charles Dicken's youthful employment. With glorious architecture, old and new, to behold and statues of the great and good to admire this area has it all. 
Meet: Charing Cross Railway Station (by entrance to Charing Cross Hotel)

Uniquely Euston
Sunday, August 23 (2015) at 2.30 pm
Somers Town, once one of London's worst slums underwent a transformation in the 1930s and now you can discover this hinterland of Euston before it is transformed again. With the art deco Carreras Black Cats, two historic hospitals, paper mache bugs, a new 'Super Lab', Dickens, Mike Leigh and Walter Sickert plus the best washing line poles in London, Somers Town's history is indeed unique.
This walk is part of the Behind the Termini series of walks conducted by Rachel. To go on the Uniquely Euston walk meet Rachel outside Mornington CrescentTube.

Meet: Mornington CrescentTube

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.

BELSIZE PARK VILLAGE - Exploring the White Cliffs of NW3
It's all in the name. Belsize – it's derived from Bel-assis – means "beautifully situated." Beautifully situated – high up on the south facing slope of Haverstock Hill – and beautifully curated. The people who are fortunate enough to live here don't just live here – they love the place, guard it, tend it, nurture it. Curate it. Belsize Park Village is so fine, so fetching, so felicitous it's hard to find something it doesn't have going for it. It's venerable, indeed ancient. The sub-manor was first recorded in the early 14th century. Belsize House in 1496. It's got bizarre, let alone fascinating historical hand-holds (well, we are scaling the white cliffs of NW3 after all) – in the American Civil War it was where London-based representatives of the Confederacy gathered. It's got a Daunt bookshop. It's got an old fashioned cinema. It's got great shops. It's got a "good-heavens-look-at-that" World War II bomb shelter. It's got celebrity plumage – Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Hugh Laurie, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton, Sadie Frost, Agatha Christie, Jerome K. Jerome, David Baddiel, Frederick Delius, Frank Skinner. It's got a couple of fabulous old style village pubs. It's got stucco to die for and Italianate architecture that would do the Isle of Capri proud. It's got a village green and lodges and villas and leafy streets and discrete mews (for servants and horses, don't you know). It's got a diminutive village square. It's got continental-style cafes that are historical runes. Runes that can – and should – be "read.” Which is by way of saying, in the 1930s refugees from central Europe established a synagogue and a Viennese theatre-club and opened "continental-style cafes” in the village. It's a place where the living's good – its mixture of easy assurance and style is pitch perfect. (Note: the stylishness – the architectural detailing, for example – of Belsize Park richly repays special attention. Hats off to the care Karen and Jan have put into the route and "the particulars" – it's the walking tour equivalent of bird watching, knowing exactly which grove to approach and where to direct the gaze. And that's  by way of saying it’s – the Belsize Park Village walk – got world class guides. Say hello to Karen and Jan.)
To go on the Belsize Park Village Walk – or the Belsize Park Village Pub Walk – meet Karen or Jan just outside the exit of Belsize ParkTube.

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.

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.
To go on the Between the King's Sheets walk meet Katy just outside the Villiers Street exit of EmbankmentTube.

A Foodies' Foray & Forage into the City of London
"A man may travel all around the world, and never find anything more interesting than his dinner."

Retrace the steps of Londoners' dinners through the ages in the City of London. Turtle soup? A modest banquet of 64 courses – or a restorative? In a restaurant, of course. We'll weave our way around gin and tonic, Pimms, and recipes from Sir Christopher Wren and his friends. Sugar and spice, biscuit fame  and why dried egg made Londoners healthier than ever before. This is history you can eat.
N.B. this is foodie history – no food shops. But very tasty fare for those of us who are fascinated by the subject... Guided by Ann (who else but Ann, the London Walks Foodies Maestro and Impresario). And if you want to see her in action, here's a short video of Ann guiding the first Foodies London walk she created.
To go on the Biscuits & Banquets walk meet Ann just outside exit 1 of Mansion HouseTube.

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.

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.

BLOOMSBURY'S LOST QUARTER – Writers' & Artists' Shangri-La
We're there, exploring their London – the artists, writers and reformers of Bloomsbury, with just a passing reference to the eponymous group. We’ll visit Charles Dickens’ home and see where he shopped; find the home of another author, who wrote one of the Victorian era’s best-selling novels, and meet Britain’s first public health doctor – who also invented the world’s first water bed. Artists and writers include Peter Pan author J M Barrie; George Orwell and Stephen Spender, and we’ll see too where the extraordinary Dr Peter Roget, of Thesaurus fame, lectured to discerning Georgians. We’ll learn about Britain’s first psychotherapy clinic, and where an extraordinary generation of female doctors lived, studied and fought for the vote. Your guide is historian and author Carol Harris, a journalist with a love of news both old and new. She has worked in the Bloomsbury area on and off for about 30 years. She is Social History Editor at Coram, the UK’s oldest children’s charity, and a member of the interaction team at the Imperial War Museum London and HMS Belfast. Her history specialties are the Georgians, the twentieth century, WW1 and WW2, health and social care, feminism, fashion and football. Which covers most things.
To go on the Bloomsbury's Lost Quarter walk meet Carol just outside the exit of Russell SquareTube.

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.

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.

Trafalgar Square. The centre of London. The home of the National Gallery, Nelson’s Column and... the hippopotamus! 125 thousand years ago, the area which is now central London would have resembled the River Nile. Discover the rich geological history of London’s most famous square. Everything from important fossil finds to the geology of the stones used in the 19th and 20th century buildings and monuments the Admiral surveys from his crow's nest over London. See the capital’s centre with new eyes! This walk is guided by London University Geologist Ruth. 
To go on The Building Stones of Trafalgar Square & St. Martin's Lane walk meet Ruth just outside exit 1 of Leicester SquareTube.
 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.

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.

The Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol & Seasonal Traditions walk
 makes several appearance in the From the Repertory programme
from late November onwards. Dates for this year – Christmas Season 2015 – are:
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.

100 Years of the Little Tramp
Even if you’ve never seen a Charlie Chaplin film, you’ll recognise the smudge moustache, the bowler hat, the outsized shoes and the comic walk, for Charlie Chaplin became the most famous comic actor of all time and every bit as big a star in his day as Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson. It all started here, in London. In this part of London – where Charlie Chaplin grew up. This walk, Charlie Chaplin in Lambeth traces the origins of his meteoric rise to become the world’s first global superstar.
In Lambeth we visit the pubs where Charlie Chaplin’s father performed as a Music Hall Entertainer until his decline into alcoholism, and we’ll stand on the very spot where, as a child, Charlie Chaplin watched wide-eyed and open-mouthed, as the elite of that theatrical profession, swaggered into those pubs from their swanky pony and traps. Charlie was entranced by their flamboyant chequered suits and ostentatious bling, and vowed to make this bewitching profession his own. Heartbreakingly, we also visit the workhouse where Charlie was separated from his mother when she fell on hard times and became unable to care for him. We visit the school Charlie Chaplin attended and hear about the agonies of being kitted out in cut down versions of his mother’s stage costumes and we see the very same buildings on the very same street corners where Chaplin loitered and did his best to pass the time of day when he had nowhere else to go. We hear how Charlie’s beleaguered family was obliged to move from place to place, but as we visit a string of Charlie’s childhood homes, in each we see sights and hear stories that were to come to back to life on the silver screen. Lambeth was Charlie’s great inspiration and the look and feel of Lambeth’s streets and landmarks appear again and again in his films. And when we finally meet (and hear) the poignant story about Charlie Chaplin’s first love, we are astonished how much the actresses he cast in his films remind us of her.
The walk ends at OvalTube, and if you don’t instantly recognise the scene opposite as one from Charlie Chaplin’s most successful film, I’ll be sure to point it out. Guided by Jane.
To go on the Charlie Chaplin in Lambeth walk meet Jane just outside the exit of Lambeth NorthTube.

CHARMING CHISWICK – Olde Worlde Riverside Village
Old, picturesque, storied, full of character, riverine, tucked away on its isthmus, sitting pretty – that's Chiswick. Comes of ancient stock. The name means 'cheese-farm.' And ancient? Chiswick's been answering to its name for 1,000 years. Cheese-farm and Thameside fishing village. How honest-to-goodness is that? The church, St Nicholas, goes back to 1181. Its present incarnation is a comparative youngster – 15th century. There's 16th-century Walpole House on the Mall. There's Chiswick's magnificent riverside promenade – the lazy river, the singing summer sky, the architectural feats and feasts – a stroll along that past-cosseted passage is a guaranteed medicine for melancholy. There's the cafes and specialist shops and handsome old pubs. Say it again – proclaim it – old riverside pubs. The photo-op of the walk has to be the Dove. It's a tracking shot because the Dove is reached by a narrow path winding through a cluster of houses. Every step along there "teems with reminiscences of poets, men of lettters and artists: let us therefore softly tread; 'tis hallowed ground" (Edward Walford). And it's not just the shades of Thackeray and Hemingway and Graham Greene and John Fowles haunting the byways and pubs and groves of Chiswick, here we're also deep into Arts & Crafts territory. Rich repast, this walk. Saturday afternoon perfection. Guided by Alison.
The meeting point for the Charming Chiswick Walk is just outside the exit of Ravenscourt ParkTube.

Welcome to the nascent metropolis. Welcome to the most momentous period in the whole history of the capital. Welcome to modern London in embryonic form. "By 1700 such social features of modern life in London as its vastness, its anonymity, its precariousness, and its underlying stability despite the prevalence of extremes of wwealth and poverty were already manifest." This part of London was the crucible. Out of that crucible emerged the prototype for modern metropolitan civilisation. Where? How? Why? When? Why then? Why here? What from then is still here today? (The 17th century skull beneath the skin.) Who? of course. Those questions – and their answers – are what this London history course walk takes its bearings by.
To go on The "Century of Change: 1603-1714" walk meet the guide just outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube.

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.

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.

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".

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.

T'was hours before Christmas and all through the streets the walkers got ready for this festive treat. This Christmas eve walk 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-on-the-day lists. So, in sum, since it's Christmas 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 & THE CRASH – How It Really Happened*
Poem first. Blurb second. The poem's a little mood music – what money sounds like. Here it is. (Author's A.S.J. Tessimond)
Money Talks
Money talks with a voice that's thinned
To a rustle of chequebooks in the wind.
Money talks with a voice as dry
As an auditor's enquiring eye.
Money talks with a voice that clanks
Like slamming doors of closing banks.
Money talks with the hollow sound
Of metal boxes underground.
'Inflation's floods are dark and drear.
The deserts of deflation sear.
My enemies are always near.'
Money talks with a voice of fear.
Okay, blurb time:
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.
*For the record, the walk was originally subtitled: Coming Across. We picked that subtitle 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!

N.B. Anne-Marie's created two completely different City Sculpture Safari walks. That's how rich, how biodiverse the City is in terms of its "public art." The two walks go by the same title – The City Sculpture Safari – but they have different starting points and they explore completely different parts of London. It's the difference between going on a safari in Kenya and a safari in South Africa.

The City Sculpture Safari that goes from Chancery LaneTube packs a razzmatazz subtitle: Opening Magic Casements & Uncorking London's Artistic Glow. Reason being in "the famous white London Walks leaflet" the Tour du Jour walks have to "get by" with just a title – a leaflet's a piece of paper and as such it has severe "space limitations" – so the Opening Magic Casements & Uncorking London's Artistic Glow contrail is there to underline the point that the City Sculpture Safari that starts from Chancery LaneTube is a completely different walk from the one that starts from Tower HillTube.

Anne-Marie's other City Sculpture Safari – subtitled London's Hidden Masterpieces – goes from just outside the exit of Tower HillTube (meet Anne-Marie by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stall) at 10.45 am.

Hope it goes without saying that either of them can be booked privately. If you're interested in a private City Sculpture Safari walk, get in touch and Anne-Marie can talk you through the two of them – help you decide which one of the two is a better fit for your group.

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.

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.

“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!

DOCTORS' LONDON – Pox & Plague, Leeches & Quacks

“Bring out your dead.” That harrowing London refrain. Up one street and down the next that cry was heard here, endlessly, in 1665, the year of the Great Plague. But in the London Mortality League Tables, 1665, as horrific, as nightmarish as it was, comes a poor second. The Black Death, three centuries earlier, was the single most lethal catastrophe to hit Europe, let alone London. And those are just the Everest and K9 of Diseased London. For centuries this city was so unhealthy its population could only be sustained by a constant influx of new blood from the country.  This walk – guided by a London Public Health Physician (were ever guide and city and theme better matched?) – explores the whole range of London’s “medical Himalayas.” It’s a story of the horrors of London’s past medical practices. And of hard won advances. It’s a tale of doctors, dissections and resurrection men, of surgeons as sawbones and barbers and their crude amputations without the aid of anaesthetics or disinfectants. It’s a pitiful, putrid parade of poisons and placebos and faith healers and quacks. It’s short lives and the long art.  It’s proddings and pokings and experimentation. It’s laboratories and therapies and famous London hospitals and famous London doctors and infamous London diseases. It’s microbes and science and urbanisation and politics (some of them sexual) and the sociology of medicine. It's the sobering thought – one among many – that bubonic plague is not extinct, it merely lies dormant. Guided by Dr. Barry.

To go on the Doctors' London – Pox & Plague, Leeches & Quacks walk meet Dr. Barry just outside the exit of BlackfriarsTube.

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.

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.


London is Stranger than Fiction.

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.

To go on the Eccentric London walk meet Hilary or Kim just outside the river exit of EmbankmentTube.


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.

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.
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
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.
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.)  

Presence & Personality in the National Portrait Gallery.
You know the poem. Or at least its famous final lines.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
What you probably don't know is that the poet was a young man in his 20s when he wrote it. A young man in his 20s who'd just had his leg amputated. And who'd been told by his doctors that his other leg would also have to be sawn off. That was his situation, that was what William Ernest Henley was up against when he  wrote Invictus
Good to know, isn't it? Changes the way you see the poem, doesn't it?
And that's what Pepe's National Portrait Gallery walk does. It's not just looking at portraits and reading a two or three line broad-brush summary of a life and then moving on to the next portrait and repeating that dry-as-dust exercise. It's finding and marshalling and setting out the telling details – the stories – that stop you in your tracks. That jolt across the centuries. That are coming from the same place, so to speak, that these portraits are coming from. That tap into the same core of formative experience. And there's more. Because the walk also looks at these portraits as works of art. The Joshua Reynolds portrait of Joseph Banks, for example, captures Banks as a brilliant, passionate, perceptive character. The Samuel Johnson portrait makes you feel the force of the great man of letters. Look – entranced – at the Walpole portrait and you understand that you're face to face with a strange genius. Or Sterne. Reynolds gave him an almost demonic mask of a face. These are greart paintings. Nothing remote or staid about them. Good walk. Different walk. Interesting walk.
To go on the Face Time with the Famous walk meet Pepe just outside the Villiers Street exit of EmbankmentTube.

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.

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.

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.

This one isn't on the balcony – it's through the keyhole. It's hideaways and nooks and crannies and boltholes with a difference: they're royal hideaways and nooks and crannies and boltholes. It's where the goings on went down. It's kings who were queens. It's 16 coffin bearers, beheaded lovers and a questionable birthright. It's a square coffin, a fake lesbian wedding and "a bat instead of a woman". It's curses and betrayals, heartaches and hearth-aches and unhealthy habits. It's ugly sisters and poisonous makeup and war and head lice. It's between the kings' sheets and a cabinet particulaire and a royal brothel. It's £40 million of debt, swinging parties, debauchery and treachery. It's unofficial history, real history. It's guides with that tiara tingle. (Here's how a walker put it: "This walk had my head spinning. Not just because of the dizzying array of funny and fascinating stories and often hilarious incidents but also because of the star power of the guide herself. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in London.") It's a royally, royally good walk. A royally, royally good walk with pubs. Guided by Katy.

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 for more details.

FROZEN MUSIC - The City of London Architecture Walk
An absolute treat. Everything about this walk is a joy. What you see. And how you see it. What to look for. Why it matters. Why now. Why here. Why then. Goes without saying that the big picture stuff – these remarkable buildings viewed in their entirety from the best possible vantage point (whether it's a question of visual drama and full-on splendour and Wow! factor or of "framing" with a "piece of the distant past" in order to make a jaw-dropping compare and contrast point) – is high voltage. But the piquant little details are just as arresting. Saucy nicknames``; the towering innuendo; tonnage and acreage and precisely how many glass panes; pagan temples and a Roman basilica; and roof gardens and surreal landscaping and how great architects carve the space – relate a building to its position; indeed, the materials, the stone, the steel, glass – their characteristics and properties and why they were right for any given building. With this subject you need somebody who knows what they're doing – and that's why this walk is guided by an architectural historian. By David. Not the Literary Historian David. The other David, architectural specialist David.
To go on Frozen Music – The City of London Architecture Walk meet David just outside the exit of Tower HillTube. Meet him by the "Tower Hill Tram" coffee stall.

Comes the walk, comes the guide. This one's guided by a professional comedian! A professional comedian who's passionately interested in the history of his craft, his predecessors, their audiences, etc. Stand-up, clubs, pubs, the whole glorious parti-coloured, bold, bald, bawd, bawled, piebald, ribaldry of Soho. Guided by Andrew.
To go on the Funny Side of Soho walk meet Andrew just outside exit 1 of Leicester SquareTube.

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.


Soho may have cleaned up its act in recent years but scratch the surface and we come face to face with the organised gangs that ran Europe’s most famous red-light district and England’s epicentre of organised crime, each gang with its own trademark method of settling scores and engendering terror.  Come, if you dare, and meet the gun-toting Elephant Boys and England’s first Sicilian Mafia style gangsters and visit the sites where pitched battles broke out between them in their bid to maintain control over illegal drinking and gambling in Soho.

If home grown gangs were a little squeamish about controlling the sex trade, gangs from every corner of the continent (and beyond) had fewer qualms about being very ‘hands on’ indeed and we meet the Algerian Assassin and unscrupulous snake-hipped tango dancers practised in the art of ‘white-birding’ (trafficking).  We meet the fabulously chic and very visible ‘French Fifis’ applying their distinctive trade and, more ominously, hear about the scarcely visible working girls kept in check by notoriously vicious groups of men using a potent mixture of beatings and razor slashings.

On this Gangs of Soho Walk the guide recalls how gang culture has been affected by changing legislation and specific events (or specific murders!) and focusses on the best remembered gangs (yes, the Krays crop up) charting their rivalries and the rise and fall of the ‘Mr Bigs’ in the background.  But it is Soho itself that does most of the work by providing a backdrop where all the flavour of seedy brothels and strip-clubs, sordid gambling and drinking dens lingers on and suspicious characters with big firsts still hang around shop doorways.  Against this backdrop thick with menace and titillation you’ll have no difficulty believing a gangster may be around the very next corner.

To go on The Gangs of Soho Walk meet Jane just outside Goodge StreetTube.

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.

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 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

The walk ends near Russell SquareTube.

GEORGIAN LONDON - The London History Course
And so London, the cosmopolitan city comes into view. Ah, yes, Georgian London. Were the ceaselessly fascinating matter of London eras – what each of them was like, how each of them differed from its predecessors and successors – were the ceaselessly fascinating matter of London eras a figure skating contest the Georgian period would come first – in composure, austere beauty, interest, full-flavouredness, sense and sensibility – in a lot of judges' rankings. "Georgian London – 10, 9.9, 10, 10, 9.8, 10, 9.9, 10." Well, you get the idea. It's certainly had staying power – the which testifies to both its solidity and its merits. Georgian London – a fair old bit of it – has survived the test of time. Still with us in the whole (some of it). In fragmentary form (even more of it). And certainly in trace evidence form. The fingerprints of Georgian London are all over our London. It was a London of rich Londoners taking carriages to their gambling clubs and the condemned taking the death cart to the gallows at Tyburn. (Hangings were like festivals: people tooks the day off to watch criminals die. And those death carts passed right along here, right where this walk starts.) It was a London of wealthy noblemen owning whole blocks of smart homes and of the poor crammed several families to a room in a "rookery". A London of coffee houses and one house in every four selling cheap gin and of drovers herding cattle and geese through the streets and street hawkers and of wolf packs of feral children roaming the streets. It was that rarest of European phenomenon, the low density city.  (That low density city was just coming into view in our period and it sure is interesting to learn why London, uniquely, was able to turn that trick). It was a London of squares – the square is London's principal contribution to the urban experience. And a London of the great Building Acts and of Augustan classicism (balance, proportion, order), of tall narrow windows giving place to Palladian symmetry and restraint. It was a London that we learn to "read" on this walk – why it looked the way it did, its identifying characteristics, how and why it differed from what went before and came after, how its outward "forms" – especially its architecture – were expressive of the Georgians' hopes and fears and needs and means. Good walk. Full of "change the way you see London" moments.
To go on Georgian London - The London History Course walk meet just outside exit 3 of Chancery LaneTube.

Watch the video. 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.)


Think of the oldest buildings in the capital: the Tower of London; Westminster Abbey (parts of, anyway); Temple Church, Guildhall, etc. 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 a five minute walk from busy Highbury & IslingtonTube, 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. Guided by Rachel.

Little Venice & Paddington
Ahhhh! The delights of discovery. Of I spy with my little eye for grown-ups.
Item: A Brunel iron bridge no-one knew was there.
Item: Now where in London would one look for an amphitheatre?
Oh my goodness, just round the corner, here it is …
Item: A secret corner of London, closed to the public for 200 years. Where might that be?
Well I never – here it is. And look at it now: opened up as a large water space; and into the bargain a great place to "I spy" some very imaginative bridges. Thomas Hetherwick’s Rolling Bridge, for example. (Yes, that's right, that Thomas Hetherwick, "the Leonardo da Vinci of our times." The one whose atelier is "part hi-tech research lab, part art school campus and part, well, Wonka chocolate factory or Caractacus Potts workshop." The designer-inventor-artist-architect who couldn't turn out something banal or banausic if he tried.)
Item: Paddington Green. Ahhhh, Paddington Green, that treat of a countryside village that the folks from London came to visit. They came and they stayed, some of them. Liked it that much. So it wasn't just hempen homespuns who lived in Paddington Green. I mean, good heavens, that's Lady Emma Hamilton. And look over there – London's first private detective; yes, that's right, the chap who earned a mention in Gilbert & Sullivan's operas. 
Item: The pub which gave its name to Maida Vale.
Item: Little Venice of course. Ahhh, Little Venice, arguably the most beautiful residential neighbourhood in London. You can see why so many poets, playwrights, novelists, artists, and actors lived (and live) here. And took inspiration from it. It's just so visually appealing.
Item: One of London’s “lost rivers.” It's hidden here. A dowsing we will go – because we're going to find it.
To go on The Grand Junction & Regent’s Canals walk:  meet Roger
(or one of his Inland Waterways Association colleagues)
at Paddington Station (Towpath Exit: near platform 16)
Paddington Basin – Paddington Arm – Little Venice
A bit of secret London sealed off from the outside world for over 200 years.
Now you're talking. Ears pricked up here. Tell. Us. More.
More? Boy, do I have "more" for you. The big "more" is the "seal' (in "sealed off") has been broken. We can go there now. And we do.
On this walk.
This walk through – by – into – one of the crown jewels of London's "re-development projects". In many respects this just-opened-up stretch of the Grand Union Canal is a Docklands in miniature. With the huge advantage of being right here, in town. What's it got going for it – apart from location, location, location? Try impressive new architecture seasoned wtih striking sculptures, let alone some of the most imaginative bridges in London. When London gets this kind of thing right – and it sure has here – it does it better than any place else in the world. And the key to that is its not blowing off every last trace of what was here before. It's a question of rediscovering and reinvigorating the past – rather than razing it out. So lots of intriguing survivals from the early 19th century, from the Canal Age. Details. Particulars. The best sort of d and p. Details and particulars which in many cases you wouldn't spot off your own bat – or if you did you wouldn't have a clue about what they were all about. That's where Roger and his team of Inland Waterway Association guides come in. They've got the key. They unlock that safe and show us those survivals. Open them up in both senses of the word – make sure we see them, and see what they were for. And as for bookends – well, do they come any better than Little Venice at one end and Brunel's famous Paddington Station (Halleluyah for our vantage point – we see the survived-restored-given-new-lease-of-life "fourth roof bay" at its spectacular best).
And for good measure – a secret river. Let alone, on that weekend in the merry month of May, brushstroke after brushstroke of colour from Little Venice down the Paddington Arm: the Canalway Cavalcade.
To go on The Grand Union – Paddington Basin - Little Venice Walk meet Roger
(or one of his Inland Waterways Association colleagues)
at Edgware RoadTube (Circle Line). 
The walk ends near Warwick AvenueTube.

THE GREAT MELTING POT – Immigrants London
Immigrants' London is London. London was founded by immigrants. It's always been peopled by immigrants – indeed, 35 percent of today's Londoners were born overseas. Much of its greatness – let alone its buzz, its excitement, its astonishing bouquet of cultural, artistic, historical, linguistic, and, yes, culinary flavours – is directly traceable to its being a City of Immigrants. It's a City of the Past in that regard. And it's also very much the City of the Future in that regard. London's the most ethnically diverse city in the world – that 35 percent statistic again! And it works. Everybody rubs along together. People are what they are – this is the rainbow city. But they're also, sooner or later, all Londoners. It's part of the alchemy, part of the magic of London, that. This walk explores all of that. The whys? The wheres? The whens? The hows? The whos? The significance. Not just what it portends – but what's to be admired and celebrated and indeed learned from that arguably richest strand of all in the London tapestry. Guided by Sue. N.B. the walk takes about two hours and ends at AldgateTube.
To go on The Great Melting Pot – Immigrants' London walk meet Sue just outside the Bishopsgate exit of Liverpool StreetTube. 

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.


"The burning still rages [wrote John Evelyn]. I went now on horseback & it was now gotten as far as the Inner Temple, all Fleet-street, Old Bailey, Ludgate Hill, Warwick-lane, Newgate, Paul's Chain, Watling-street now flaming & most of it reduced to ashes, the stones of Paul's flew like granados, the lead melting down the streets in a stream, & the very pavements of them glowing with a fiery redness, so as nor horse nor man was able to tread on them, & the demolitions had stopped all the passages, so as no help could be applied; the easter[n] wind still more impetuously driving the flames forwards." Welcome to the Great Fire of London. The single most catastrophic – and formative – episode in London's history. This walk – which begins where the Great Fire began and follows its course, goes where Evelyn went – lights the fire of your historical imagination. It looks at – opens up to view, sheds [sometimes lurid] light on all of the inportant aspects of the fire. How and where it started. The course it followed. Why it followed the course it did. Where and how it was finally halted. The immediate response. The long-term response. The principal actors – and "ordinary" Londoners. How it changed everything. The devastation. The bill for the devastation. What it "missed." A cornerstone walk for understanding London. It's guided by archaeologist Kevin. A former Museum of London archaeologist, he's done Great Fire "digs." Knows his stuff. Knows stuff about the Great Fire that goes way beyond any "Wiki crib sheet."
To go on The Great Fire Anniversary Walk meet Kevin just outside the Fish Street Hill exit of MonumentTube.

GUNPOWDER, TREASON & PLOT - On the Trail of Guy Fawkes
"Had it succeeded, it would have been the most spectacular assassination in history."
Please to remember
The fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We know no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
It's a tale of 36 barrels of gunpowder (that's nearly a ton of explosives!); of a warren of houses, shops and inns with interconnecting cellars and storage areas; of easy access to the Thames (so the gunpowder could be brought across the river to the Palace of Westminster); of a suspicious figure in a cloak and dark hat, booted and wearing spurs as though ready to make an escape; of a letter; of a plot allowed to "mature"; of days of racking; of a palsied - because of the torture - signature on a confession; of an "own goal"; of a gun battle; of bodies exhumed from graves and beheaded and mounted on stakes; of a trial on charges of high treason; of executions that were brutal in the extreme (Guy Fawkes was hanged, taken down from the gallows while still alive, placed on the quartering block, castrated, gralloched [disembowelled], and, finally, quartered like a slaughtered ox; of onlookers never able to forget that he was conscious throughout the process; of bonfires (then and now) lit across London to celebrate the failure of the conspiracy; of chilling modern parallels.
Ok, that's enough programme notes. Hilary will connect the dots and flesh - if that's the mot juste - the thing out. Right down to every last grisly detail.
To go on the Gunpowder, Treason & Plot - On the Trail of Guy Fawkes walk meet Hilary just outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube.
That starting point should give you a pretty good idea of the "route." In short, the walk goes over "ground zero." And just in case anyone's wondering, no, there won't be a bonfire. Not on Sunday afternoon. The close call they had with a "bonfire" four centuries ago - let alone 1940 - was more than enough pyrotechnics thank you very much.

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 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.


More heroines than heroes! The girls come into their own and prove their worth by taking over the jobs from their fighting chaps. Transport, munitions, agricultural labour now becomes the order of the day. Contrast the tragedy of nurse Edith Cavell, remembered by the moving monument near Trafalgar Square with the triumph of the Pankhursts, the bane of Parliament, but with a memorial less than a stone’s throw from the House of Lords. Now if I may, I'm going to elaborate a teensy bit. Michaelangelo once said, "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." The next step on from that – in our line of artistry, guiding London Walks – is that every statue has stories inside it and it's the task of the guide to unveil them. Stories about the sculpted figure of course. And her (or his) times. But also, in many cases, about the sculptor, the stone, the position, etc. etc. And I hasten add, stories that go way beyond – much richer pickings – than a (holding my nose here) Wikipedia trawl will ever bring up. A Q.E.D. or two for this walk? Well what makes a certain statue unique? And why it's the most dishonest statue in the United Kingdom. And a fire bombing. And unbounded courage. And a door slammed in the face of government officials. And the most hideous tale of force feeding you'll ever hear. Well, you get the idea. And no, it's not just about statues, this walk. There is of course tonnage more. This is London, after all. And this is the great rupturing event of the 20th century. So streets speak. And walls whisper. And positioning pronounces. Guided by Anne-Marie (comes the walk, comes the guide – Anne-Marie's our resident home front historian. And to be sure the walk walked right into the London Walks programme because Anne-Marie created it). 

To go on Heroes & Heroines – A First World War "Special' Walk meet Anne-Marie just outside the river exit of EmbankmentTube.

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 1 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.


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.

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. 

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 Great War & Life in the City
With City trading closed, walk a different City, a City at war. Start on the steps where war was proclaimed in August 1914 and end where the nation gave thanks when it was all over in November 1918. In between, feel the impact – from the stockbrokers queuing to sign up, to the Zeppelin captains who made the City a special target.  Would a spy command your respect for his courage at trial? Would you have cared if the German origin of shopkeepers led to their internment and – for one of the City’s greatest philanthropists – exile? Experience the power of the barons controlling a popular press that unseated a prime minister, while a young woman was so desperate for a break in Fleet Street she disguised herself as a soldier on the front line. Your qualified guides are an established team. Charlie, Emmanuel and Mark have not just walked the war here, they know about the war in that other centre of power – Westminster. You won’t get a better chance to understand the City and its context in the greatest conflict the world had ever known.
In the Spring 2016 London Walks programme THE HOME FRONT walk takes place at 2.30 pm on Saturday, January 30.
To go on it meet your guides – yes, uniquely, this walk is guided by a three-man team – just outside exit 3 of BankTube.
Classic London Walks fare, this. Seeing the unseen. Seeing it literally because of the nooks and crannies the walk explores. Nooks and crannies that'll be new to you – and thus unseen – unless you know London exceptionally well. And because of where Anne-Marie directs your gaze. Tiny details that you'd overlook even if you did wander down there. But also seeing the unseen because of the word pictures Anne-Marie paints in your mind. You see a building, she'll show you a human drama. You see a street corner, she'll show what happened right there a century ago. The ghosts of men and women who were there then. This walk is another Great War "Special" created by the London Walks resident military historian, Anne-Marie. You'll come away from it knowing this patch of London a whole lot better. And have some extraordinary stories to tell, to pass on about what happened here back then. You'll know tons more about the falling bombs and the closing pubs and the overflowing hospitals and the overworked medics. About how we coped here in London when Death draped its shroud across this city and much of the rest of Europe.

Riches to Rags
France opened her own veins and spilt her best blood when she drained herself of her Huguenots. And everywhere, in every country that would receive them, this amazing strain acted as yeast. Nowhere more so than in London. T'his walk explores their story, their London.  
Our London.
"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 is the faith, manifest."
To go on The Huguenot Silk Weavers of Spitalfields walk meet just outside the Bishopsgate exit of Liverpool StreetTube.

IN FOCUS – The Aldwych
 In Focus: The Aldwych

As the name makes clear this walk explores the old setttlement. From that name and its cousin Lundenwic (meaning London settlement or old trading town) some 1300 years of London history open out before us, bowing outward like the shape of the Aldwych.

Now as for the order of business... There'll be a final reading of the monumental landscape – including Bush House, Australia House, India House and the London School of Economics. And then the London Walks Past Rebuilding Corporation will move in to dig up* Wych Street – taverns, raucous theatres, a maypole, Jack Sheppard, the Earl of Essex and all. The public should take note that, at times, this will be noisy and dirty work. (The aerial display – the dogfight followed by the RAF flypast – will of course add to the melee.

*NB. Examples of baroque, classical and Palladian architecture will, where possible, remain untouched. Christopher Wren and James Gibbs will be on hand to oversee this aspect of the project.

Ok, that's the taster for today's In Focus walk. It should go without saying that it'll be the usual In Focus modus operandi: an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at one of the most famous streets in London. And its tributaries. In short, more trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. London Walks – Streets Ahead!

IN FOCUS – Bank Junction
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores Bank Junction – the Fort Knox of the City of London, Mansion House, London's third most important river (speaking of tributaries, Bank Junction's got them in spades), the Royal Exchange, cutting edge architecture, etc.  Yup, Bank Junction's got it all. It's been created and is curated (guided) by classy Blue Badge guide Isobel.
IN FOCUS - Bedford Square
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores Bedford Square, past and present. London has over 700 squares. The square is London's principal contribution to the urban experience. Bedford Square is, by common consent, the most perfect, the most beautiful square in London. You'll see that immediately. By walk's end you'll understand why and how that happyy state of affairs came about. And of course the ghosts it's populated with (to say nothing of the flesh and bloods who are there now) are jaw dropping. Just for starters two chaps who reigned as "the most hated man in England." What one of them in particular did – well, it'll agitate every well, I never electrode in your system; and as for what he got up to in his spare time.... It gets better – Bedford Square is what's known as a Key Square. No access to the public. But we're going in there (providing there's not a private function on on the day). Mary Jane's got access. Pretty good, wouldn't you say! This is a great walk. The Bedford Square In Focus walk has been created and is curated (guided) by by top flight Blue Badge guide Mary Jane.
IN FOCUS - Charing Cross
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores Charing Cross Road – bookshops (this is of course 84 Charing Cross Road territory) and theatres and London's best coffee bar and tailors and its best Deli and Trats and the poster boy for the unacceptable face of the 60s building boom and Crossrail (of course) and spellbinding history. The tale Simon W. will tell you about the Charing Cross Hospital is worth the price of admission all by itself. You'll never forget it. You'll think about it every time you go by there, if only for a second. Think about it with a glow of pleasure – "I'm glad I know that - nobody else does and that's very satisfying." The Charing Cross Road In Focus walk has been created and is curated (guided) by star Blue Badge and prize winning guide, actor Simon W.
IN FOCUS - Cheapside
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores Cheapside – the High Street of the City of London. The Cheapside In Focus walk has been created and is curated (guided) by actor and award-winning Blue Badge guide Simon W.

Soupçon anyone? Cheapside's been the City of London's main shopping street for the past millennium. Takes its name from 'chepe,' a Saxon word for a market. It's alignment was dictated by a convenient bridging point across the River Walbrook. St. Mary-le-Bow stood here by 1091. (For the foundations of the famous tower of his St. Mary-le-Bow Wren used the Roman gravel roadway.) Quaint shopfronts from the 18th and 19th centuries can still be found – if you know where to look. There were the stocks. Fountains. Tournaments. Goldsmiths. (Shopping and sport and Goldsmiths – it sounds like the Mall of America and U.S. Bank Stadium. Plus change...) Finally, it has some of the best literary connections in London: More, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, Dickens... well, you get the idea. 
IN FOCUS - Covent Garden Piazza
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores Covent Garden Piazza. Started something, the Piazza. 'Twas the first ever London Square. Inigo Jones, the architect, had been to Italy, was very influenced by the Italian style. It was said of the Piazza, "here he [Inigo Jones] brought italy to England." Started something. Because today London has over 700 squares. But this patch of London turf goes back much further than a mere 385 years. The Saxons were here. Lived here. This was Lundenwic. Established a mere 1400 years ago. We give ourselves an "out" on the In Focus walks – "tributaries" come into the action (if the guide sees fit to bring 'em in). Well, notice the disciplined grid of streets around the the Piazza. That was Inigo Jones. And Italy. And the riches just keep tumbling out of this cornucopia. Bedford's great house. Aristrocratic dwellers. T. E. Lawrence. There's Hitchcock. There's the most famous meeting in English Lit. There's Coffee houses, taverns, theatres, theatres, traders of all kinds, throngs of Londoners and visitors. To say nothing of flowers, fruit, vegetables, dubious characters and the vice trade. There's the reason this was the only place in London where Shaw could plausibly open Pygmalion (which of course became the musical My Fair Lady). To say nothing of the street name Full of Dung Heaps, pissing on the populace, England's greatest painter, London's oldest restaurant and the Royal Opera House. OMG. And as for "To say nothings" – the walk's been curated by (and is guided by) one of the brightest stars in the London Walks firmament, the dashing young actor and Royal Opera House guide and award-winning Blue Badge Guide, Simon W.
IN FOCUS – Pall Mall
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores Pall Mall. It's old, it's august, it's assured, it's wealthy, storied, it's Clubland, it's mistresses, it's got a pedigree second to none as London streets go. And it's got a great guide, gifted Blue Badge guide and she who goes off piste better than anyone else on the team – Jan.
IN FOCUS Parliament Square

Two images.

1.     Think of a book. A closed book. The title of the book is Parliament Square. We’ve all seen that book lying there a million times. Know its cover. Know its title: Parliament Square. Have a vague idea what’s in it. But we’ve never bothered to open it. To read it.

2.     Don Patterson’s got a wonderful sonnet called Wave. It begins:

For months I’d moved across the open water
Like a wheel under its skin…

We can sense – but only sense – from that first perfect image in Patterson's sonnet the power of the wave. How far down it reaches – its great depths. How far it's come. How much has gone into it. How much is there. Where it's going and what might be wrought when it finally gets there, comes ashore, reveals its full self, its full might.

Apt images – both of them – for Parliament Square. There’s a whole book to be read there. There’s much there and it runs very deep.

This walk – the first in a series of In Focus walks – opens up the book called Parliament Square. Reads it. 

Let’s us see the works – the fullness, the plenitude, the sweep and power – of the wheel under the skin.

So, an example or two of the kind of thing Sandy will be doing in Parliament Square.

First, for a teaser, how about  “shockingly lax sexual morals” and 32 stars and a garter and being crushed to death by a statue and the first truly dramatized roof-scape in Victorian London and Laurence Olivier’s hands and the single most important moment in the 20th century and a rare glimpse of the interior of the old pre-fire House of Commons and a nuclear war bomb shelter and an arrow in the face and tertiary syphilis and flocks of tailors and God’s assassin and a portable flogging and beheading kit and a hat under an arm and a famous all-purpose short sword and an abandon hope all ye who enter here gateway and the greatest pornographer who ever dipped his quill in the well and… well, you get the idea.

Do you seriously think you know Parliament Square?

But teasers can be maddening. Especially for those who’d love to go on a walk but can’t make it. So also by way of illustration, let’s “read” – closely read – just one “paragraph” in the book called Parliament Square.

That “paragraph” is the statue of Prime Minister George Canning. Some walkers will have heard of him. Others won’t. Virtually no one – apart from London Walks guides – will have paid the statue any heed.

It richly repays the paying of that heed.

You’ll never look at it again the same way. You’ll never not see it again. After going on this walk it’ll be SNAP! FOCUS!! LOCK!!! every time you pass it. Indeed, chances are it’ll be more than really seeing it, properly seeing it – chances are you’ll even squirm at the thought of having it fall on you, crush you, kill you.

Whereas for everybody else – the tens of thousands of people who go to Parliament Square every day – the statue’s just a blur (if they see it at all). The blur of their ignorance.

I know whose “experience” of the statue I’d rather have. 

What you’ll “see” – by the time Sandy’s through with you – is that terrible moment in sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott’s studio in Pimlico when the statue collapsed, crushing to death his assistant, Vincent Gahagan.  His widow – she was Gahagan’s third wife – was left with six step-children and little means of support. You’ll see and hear that statue coming down when you consider her application for assistance to the Artists’ Benevolent Fund. See and hear it coming down in her stark description set out on that application: how her husband was  ‘Frightfully destroyed at Pimlico by the falling of the statue of George Canning while working on the statue’. For the record, Gahagan’s first wife died in childbirth. The Gahagan bio – what we know of it – is a core sample of just how harrowing Victorian times could be. 

What else?  Well, you’ll see Canning’s garb. Classical garb. Westmacott did him dressed like a Roman senator. You’ll see the scroll in his left hand. 

And Canning will come out of the mists for another reason. Because of an extraordinary connection Sandy will make. A light switch she’ll throw.  

She’ll talk about the post-French Revolution, post-Napoleonic era goings-on on the continent. Ferdinand back on the throne in Spain. And the Bourbon restoration in France. But regaining his throne wasn’t enough for Ferdinand. He also wanted his colonies in South America back in his tote bag. The Bourbons agreed that the former Spanish colonies shouldn’t be allowed to go their own way. But the Bourbons’ considered view was that if France was doing the heavy lifting the possessions should rightfully be transferred to France. As one historian put it, ‘the idea of the French and Spanish monarchs thus callously bargaining with the liberties of Peru, Mexico and Chile brought Canning to his feet…the two predatory monarchs were informed that if they attacked the American republics they would find themselves at war with England too.’

Canning’s position had invaluable backing from a quarter “over there.”  U.S. President Monroe declared that meddling by European powers would no longer be tolerated on his side of the Atlantic. That henceforth America was for the Americans.

Voilà the Monroe Doctrine, a key suite in the historical furnishing of every educated American mind.

That “forgotten” British Prime Minister you’re looking at there in Parliament Square helped to carpenter that suite.

Final thought about In Focus walks generally. They’ve been a long time a-coming  – been like a wave forming and building, a wheel under the skin – to the London Walks programme. All things considered they’re practically a tectonic shift for us. Something has finally broken free. Moved. Which is by way of saying, famously we – London Walks – do untrodden paths, quaint little back streets and hidden courtyards. That’s always been our specialty. We want to get off main drags, get away from the London equivalent of Times Square and the Champs-Élysées.  We want to nook and cranny London. Take people into the little backstreets they’d never find off their own bat. That’s not to say we didn’t know about Parliament Square and Whitehall and Trafalgar Square (the three In Focus walks that will debut the series). We of course knew about them. Knew full well that in many ways they’re the most nutrient-rich tesserae of London terrain. We just didn’t think fine-tooth combing a place like Parliament Square was really us. We had enough to be getting on with in the back forty patches we’d staked out as our turf.

And there was one other thing. We had to bring our market – our community – along.  Get our following, our walkers, ready for this.  It wasn’t that London Walks – “walks for grownups” – was going to stop doing what we’ve excelled at for half a century. It was that we were going to add to the programme a strand that was counter-intuitive to the London Walks ethos. So counter-intuitive that we felt our market – our following – had to ripen. Be ready for this step, these steps. Our sixth sense is telling us that hour has come round. That we’ll get some takers for walks that look extremely closely at the likes of Parliament Square (and Whitehall and Trafalgar Square and the Strand… well, there’s lots more in the pipeline).

IN FOCUS – Fleet Street
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores Fleet Street – the Street of Ink (or, if you prefer, of Shame). It's been created and is curated (guided) by superstar guide (and national journalist) Adam.

For a soupçon, how about this? Fleet Street has been called 'a double street' because there was as much going on its alleys and passageways as on Fleet Street itself. Protruding signboards were mounted above every doorway; one of these fell down in 1718 and killed four people, including the king's jeweller. it's another Tarot deck of great names, ranging from Hanging Sword Alley to Alsatia. (Yes, that's right Alsatoa. after thar part of the Continent where France meets Germany. It's caused a lot of trouble throughout history. As has Fleet Street, not least because of its denizens – lawyers at one end, journalists at the other. Troublemakers both. And not forgetting the origin of the name – it's because the area is "extramural London" – outside the walls, where London meets Westminster. Alsatia. Makes perfect sense.
IN FOCUS – St. James's Square
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores St. James's Square. Ah, yes St. James's Square. Where the West End of London was launched. Where D-Day was planned. Where the pungent Major Percy took the news to the Prince Regent (Percy hadn't slept for a week and when he eventually got out of his bloodied uniform fragments of a man's brains, those of an officer killed next to him, fell out of his sash). Where David's "gentleman's club" is. Where the lady to whom Winston Churchill wasn't gentlemanly lived. Where the little gentleman in the brown velvet coat lives forever. Where the WPC was shot. Where... Well, the list goes on and on. The St. James's Square In Focus walk is a natural pair with the St. James's Street walk runs the Sunday before it. Both of them are guided by actor and star London Walks guide Peter.
THE STRAND – The In-Focus Walk
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries.
Today's In Focus walk explores The Strand. Disraeli called it "the first street in Europe." He meant foremost but the chronological sense packs some punch, too – the name was first recorded in 1185. Marx cast a beady over it as well, describing it as "a main thoroughfare which gives strangers an imposing idea of the wealth of London." And then he went on to point out that behind its grand institutions lay streets teeming with the city's underclass. Any way you cut it, any way you walk it, any way you look at it it's a spellbinder of a street: theatres, palaces, luxury hotels, a great railway station, pubs, astonishing literary connections, those lillies, a bestiary of statues, hidden rivers, a Royal Society, a Tarot deck of London place names and historical associations... It's the buckle, the street that connects everything – London to Westminster, the past to the present, the river to its city, east to west, rulers to ruled. London's spine. To walk it, to see it, to get to know it the way you will after a couple of hours along there in Fiona's company is to get your internal London compass aligned perfectly. From the Strand – from your understanding of it – London opens up to you like the petals of a rose. Becomes part of you. And vice versa. And – bears repeating this – this one's got a Superstar Guide. Fiona took the laurels in her Westminster Guiding course. And of course last year won the biggest one of all – the Blue Badge Guide of the Year Award.
IN FOCUS – Upper Street Islington
Streets Ahead! More trail blazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – "what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get" (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. Today's In Focus walk explores Upper Street Islington, past and present. Deep breath first. Upper Street Islington goes back to 628. A bit later – oh, 600 years or so – it was part of the cattle-droving route to Smithfield. The King's Head – where the boss (Mary) was in a show – goes back to (about) 1543. There were gentlemen's houses and tradesmen's copttages. Word has it that Sir Walter Raleigh lived here. It was a favourite place for Londoners to spend a day out. Lots of public houses. A botanical garden. Religious strife. Polison political pacts – that poisonous deal in Granita restaurant. Britain's first feminist bookshop. London's best fringe theatre (the aforementioned King's Head). London's leading pub venue for the burgeoning punk rock scene. All kinds of specialist shops – notably of course the antiques traders of Camden Passage. Charles Wesley's penning Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The list just goes on and on. Fascinating, stimulating, exciting place, Upper Street. The walk's been created and is curated (guided) by another one of London Walks' star Blue Badge guides, Jane
IN FOCUS Whitehall
Shorter version.

“Whitehall contains more landmarks of our island’s history than any other street.”

The casual visitor misses 99 percent of what’s there. We don’t.

The casual visitor gets the popsicle. We feast on the full banquet.

Longer version.

Two images.
1. Think of a book. A closed book. The title of the book is Whitehall. We’ve all seen that book lying there a million times. Know its cover. Know its title: Whitehall. Have a vague idea what’s in it. But we’ve never bothered to open it. To read it.

2. Don Patterson’s got a wonderful sonnet called Wave. It begins:

For months I’d moved across the open water
Like a wheel under its skin…

We can sense – but only sense – from that first perfect image in Patterson's sonnet the power of the wave. How far down it reaches – its great depths. How far it's come. How much has gone into it. How much is there. Where it's going and what might be wrought when it finally gets there, comes ashore, reveals its full self, its full might.
Apt images – both of them – for Whitehall. There’s a whole book to be read there. There’s much there and it runs very deep. It is, after all, the most important street in the country. Decisions taken there affect the lives of every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom.

This walk – the second in a series of In Focus walks – opens up the book called Whitehall. Reads it.

Let’s us see the works – the fullness, the plenitude, the sweep and power – of the wheel under the skin.
So, an example or 22 of the kind of thing Fiona will be doing – what she’ll be showing you – in Whitehall:  “the shame of London”; the last private dwelling in Whitehall; the alleyway that was the game changer for the look of London; the seven arrowheads; the first office in London designed for a specific government department; two hippogriffs; a Roman galley; a royal navy frigate; the scars of 19th century terrorism; the small black square of metal that governed the planning and strategy of the Royal Navy for a century; semi-draped Victorian maidens; the array of towers and turrets where the servants lived; the author of the creeping barrage; “The Two Fat Ladies;” the parade ground formation eerily reminiscent of the mass urination on the Siegfried Line; buildings from four centuries; the man who turned down the job of Prime Minister three times; a secret, small, dark doorway leading to a secret, small, dark, passage leading to…; the tower that was the lookout point when this was the tallest building in this part of London; the tower where our official spy organisation got started; the behemoth that nearly became the largest assassination weapon in the world; the oldest gas lamps in the world; the building that changed the look of English architecture for ever afterward; the weather vane that heralded “the Glorious Revolution”; the ”installation” that gave rise to no end of bawdy jokes and obscene cartoons; the spot where Sir Walter Raleigh was first presented to Queen Elizabeth; the building where General Bernard Montgomery – Monty – had his flat; a building that looks like a drawing from a child’s picture book; the handiwork of the Harvard graduate who was a double agent and into the bargain “the greatest rogue in Christendom”; the famous structure that doesn’t have a single straight line on it; Vulcan the smith-God and why he’s there and who “sat” for him…

Just one damn interesting thing after another.
And the guide? Since “it all comes down to the guiding.” Some of you have probably guessed: it’s Fiona.

Fiona If this were the British military Fiona would be “the most decorated member of the Armed Forces.” The full fruit salad. All four badges. Blue Badge, City of London, City of Westminster, and Clerkenwell. And not just badges – there are any number of badged guides in London who are pretty run of the mill. Fiona wins the gold medal, the big one, the Numero Uno award: Blue Badge Guide of the Year, City of Westminster Guide of the Year, etc.
Final thought about In Focus walks generally. They’ve been a long time a-coming  – been like a wave forming and building, a wheel under the skin – to the London Walks programme. All things considered they’re practically a tectonic shift for us. Something has finally broken free. Moved. Which is by way of saying, famously we – London Walks – do untrodden paths, quaint little back streets and hidden courtyards. That’s always been our specialty. We want to get off main drags, get away from the London equivalent of Times Square and the Champs-Élysées. We want to nook and cranny London. Take people into the little backstreets they’d never find off their own bat. That’s not to say we didn’t know about Parliament Square and Whitehall and Trafalgar Square and the Strand (the four In Focus walks that will debut the series). We of course knew about them. Knew full well that in many ways they're the most nutrient-rich tesserae of London terrain. We just didn't think fine-tooth combing a place like Parliament Square – spending a whole walk there – was really us. We had enough to be getting on with in the back forty patches we'd staked out as our turf.
And there was one other thing. We had to bring our market – our community – along.  Get our following, our walkers, ready for this.  It wasn’t that London Walks – “walks for grownups” – was going to stop doing what we’ve excelled at for half a century. It was that we were going to add to the programme a strand that was counter-intuitive to the London Walks ethos. So counter-intuitive that we felt our market – our following – had to ripen. Be ready for this step, these steps. Our sixth sense is telling us that hour has come round. That we’ll get some takers for walks that look extremely closely at the likes of Parliament Square (and Whitehall and Trafalgar Square and the Strand and… well, there’s lots more in the pipeline).

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 Autumn/Winter 2015 Fashion season. So, come on, let's head down that way – London catwalk(s) way – on today's Saturday Morning 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.

The water tank where the elephants used to swim. The balcony from which the midgets dived. You don't see that stuff from the outside. But Freddie's here. He'll waltz you across the threshold. To where the elephants used to swim. And the midgets dived. And the rest of it. And it's not just one theatre. Though – for the record – the word theatre hardly does these palaces of entertainment justice. It's front of house here, the run of the place there, private club (where the entertainers rested and refreshed in between shows) round back. It's another world. There for the intaking – the sharp intaking – of breath at the wonder (let alone the outrageousness and joie de vivre) of it. But – usual story with London – to get in, to know where, to breach walls as thick as a century – you've got to be in good hands, you've got to be "connected." Roll of drums here. Enter Freddie. Your passport. Your way in. Your enabler. Your guide. Ok, the clock's wound up, the stage is set. Take a last look round at the old familiar heart of the West End. Take a last look round because the other side of those thick-as-a-century walls your cityscape's going to melt - Dali - into a dreamscape. Yes, that's right, you certainly should be looking at each other with a wild surmise. Because that's a new planet swimming into your ken.
The meeting point for the Inside Theatrical London – Really Inside! walk is just outside the Villiers Street exit of EmbankmentTube.

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.

Add to "Basket"
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 (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.

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

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. 

When people are afraid of you, you can do anything.  This was the maxim of the Ronnie and Reggie Kray.  Having twins made Violet Kray feel special, and she rewarded her boys by instilling in them a sense of infallibility.  Violet Kray had given birth to a legend; a legend we re-live on every street corner on the Krays' East End Walk.
We visit the site of ‘Fort Vallance’, the Kray family home and the very war-time air raid shelter where granddad nightly lead a convivial knees-up as outside the bombs hurtled out of the sky.  By day the tearaway twins honed the art of running a gang as they ran wild in the original ‘adventure playgrounds’ of East End bombsites.
We see the church where Reggie married his ‘East End Princess’ and a second church that formed the backdrop to the most ostentatious of East End gangland funerals, and hear how, apart from the funerals of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, for the send-off of Ronnie Kray, the local streets were lined with the largest number of mourners that London had ever seen.  As for bodies in the Kray story that have never (ever!) been accounted for, we visit the sites that, according to gangster lore, are their most likely resting places.
And pubs! We visit (of course) the landmark Blind Beggar, scene of Ronnie’s cold blooded murder of a rival gangster, but also the typical East End pub from which the twins set out to butcher Jack the Hat Mcvitie and the atmospheric hostelry where the intrepid detective who finally unravelled the Kray case first clapped eyes on his quarry.
True legends are never laid to rest.  The Kray story is constantly being reworked as ‘new’ revelations, recollections and confessions filter up from the underworld making the time ripe to walk a while in the Krays' shoes before the streets that shaped their destiny are lost forever to gentrification, and before the quaint WhitechapelUnderground Station, where our walk ends, is modernised to accommodate Crossrail. Guided by Jane.
To go on the Krays' East End walk meet Jane just outside the west exit of Bethnal GreenTube.
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.

The Land of the Gathering Waters...
Gathering waters because this is where the Regent's Canal meets the Thames. And where the Thames, aided and abetted by the running tide, sea-surges. It's where London gets sea-fever. It's where white clouds fly and sea-gulls cry and the wind's like a whetted knife. Well, you get the idea...
But it's not just waters that gather here. This place is also a meet-up for a tonnage of history. Let alone the future. Quick survey, anyone? Item: 14th-century lime kilns (thus the name); item: an empire's shipbuilding, including one of Nelson's flagships; item: Chinese opium dens; item: Pepys coming down here looking for a good supplier of ship's ropes; item: Sherlock Holmes and Oscar Wilde pitching up; item: Dunbar Wharf and sailing ships from all over the world; item: the Thames Path and its superb views upstream and downstream – vantage points where we panopticon London (the Shard, the Gherkin, the Prospect of Whitby – it's like being out on a yardarm); item: the river traffic itself – ranging from traditional Thames sailing barges to the occasional cruise liner; item (some item): futuristic Canary Wharf, that major hub of the iternational business world going forward; item: the old warehouse and the priceless treasures it warehouses – the Museum of London Docklands (let alone the old vessels moored outside); item: a seasoning of other surviving "period" structures; item: ships still putting in at West India Docks; item: discovering it, being shown through this part of London, seeing it through the eyes of a London "waterman (or woman)" – i.e., one of the subset of London Walks guides who are members of the Inland Waterways Association; item: special walk – a seaworthy, Londonworthy, clipper of a walk.
For the dates that this walk takes place, click here.
To go on Limehouse – Thames - Docklands Walk meet Roger
(or one of his Inland Waterways Association colleagues)
just outside Westferry  DLR station beside the Cycle Hire Point.

The walk ends near Heron Quays DLR station. 
The Write Stuff in Old Bloomsbury
Welcome to David's literary soire! The company's beyond compare: your good selves and the shades of Dickens and Thackeray; Oscar Wilde and G. B. Shaw; Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Circle (who lived in Squares and loved in triangles); George Orwell, W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot. The venue's a moveable feast: a procession of handsome Georgian squares; the humming little warren of streets in the Museum quarter; and a couple of the best old pubs in London. The host's a born raconteur. And depend on it, he'll stir things a bit – tell you a thing or two about the aforementioned – how they were flesh and blood men and women who lived, loved, laughed, caroused, quarrelled and spun "words so nimble, so full of subtle flame..." . (Food is available.) David requests the pleasure of your company... 
To go on the Literary London Pub Walk – The Write Stuff in Old Bloomsbury meet David just outside the Kingsway exit (the main exit) of HolbornTube.
The walk usually ends at the Museum Tavern, directly across the street from the front of the British Museum. The Museum Tavern is just a five minute walk from three Tubestops: HolbornTube, Tottenham Court RoadTube and Russell SquareTube.
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.

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
, Bakerloo, District & Northern Lines

LONDON IN POETRY Words that Dim the Present
Forty-three years in the making, this one. That's how long I (David) have been reading London poetry on a daily (well, near as dammit) basis. This walk's a distillation of that reading, that learning, that love, that curating (and, yes, that guiding and that university lecturing). It's significantly different from a "normal" London Walk. It's about the poems, their character, their music, their whys and wherefores, their positioning, their places. With light guiding along the way. Say it again: the poems feature; it's their show. We're going to let them resonate, let them breathe – not "fit them in", not caulk the cracks of a normal walking tour with a few poems. So, yes, light guiding betwixt and between each venue. And no, it's not just walking to various spots and spouting some poetry. There's "accompaniement" to these poems – I've (that word again) curated them. So, yes there'll be some gentle touches to the tiller when the poems make their appearance. But, bears repeating, it's their show – I'm just the window through which you'll see them, the walk's the thread along which they're strung.*
What else? Well, it's certainly fair to say this one's a labour of love. Pretty much haemorrhaging red ink on this walk because of "the handout." To wit: everybody on the walk will get a wonderful, substantial – and completely free** – portfolio of London poems. It runs to about 70 poems. It's very special. It's been privately printed (well, produced). A "limited edition." It's not for sale. It's not obtainable any other way. You, my poetry walkers that morning, will be the only people in the world who'll have a copy. It matches up favourably – it's better than – any existing anthology of London poetry. It's of course got the big hitters, the most famous London poems – the Blake, Wordsworth, etc. classics – but there are other poets and poems who will be a complete – and thrilling – revelation to you. They're in there because of the unique circumstances of this anthology – in short, fitting poems to a London Walk and, the other side of that coin, fitting a London Walk to poems. In which connection, by the way, I strongly recommend that you bring a pen or pencil; it'll come in handy.
*Apply the Blue Plaque principle here. Blue plaques are wonderful. Be fun to do some magnetic resonance imaging of the brain when people see a blue plaque up ahead. Dollars to doughnuts it's some pleasure "node" of the brain that spotting a blue plauque stirs into actions. Neurons lighting up, all a-bloom all a-sudden. Because blue plaques say, "something special happened here" or "somebody special lived here." And the mental salivation starts. Well, in this instance, instead of a plaque it's a poem. And – let you in on a secret here – great poems do it better than plaque writers. Once you know that poem about the statue of Florence Nightingale, you'll never again see that statue in a ho hum way, never again not hear the "word". Here are the lines:
                    I almost love you, Miss Nightingale,
                    for going to war against war,
                    and when you came home to London
                    you cut through soaking red tape.
Soaking red tape. One word. The shiver-up-the-spine word.
Or those two lines about the Great Stink of 1858
                    In that summer of egg-rotten air,
                    the river was a damp corpse...
Great poems – it's like great actors or great artists or great guides – you just let 'em get on with it.
**Yes, completely free. With London Walks that word means what it says. We don't do bait-and-switch – you know, advertise something as free and then get all over people for money when they turn up to avail themselves of what's been advertised as "free."
Hope to see a few of you on Saturday, January 2nd at 10.45 am from St. James's ParkTube, the Broadway/Westminster Abbey exit.
You shouldn't have any problem spotting me. In addition to the finest walking stick in London I'll have a big roller bag (to carry the dozens of London Poetry books that rolled off the press a week or so ago). Oh, and we won't "do" all 70 poems. That'd be impossible. We'll do maybe a dozen or so. The rest of 'em are "take aways." For you to make the acquaintance of – and fall in love with (several of them) – in your own good time.
The walk will end up near St. Martin in the Fields, in Trafalgar Square. Very near Charing CrossStation and Leiester SquareTube.

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.

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.

The Tower of London tableau to the Prospect of Whitby (pub & 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. Tall ships and brisk lads drying in the sun at Execution Dock 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. Shiver me timbers. Guided by Stephen.
To go on the London's Old Waterfront Pub Walk meet just outside the exit of Tower HillTube. (Meet by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stall, right by Trinity Gardens.)

LONDON'S HIDDEN VILLAGE Same City, Different London
Four words* that make my blood race. "Hasn't yet been discovered". And hand on heart, if you just want postcard London this one's probably not for you. But if the sightseeing equivalent of Granny Bonds isn't your thing, well, step this way. This way for old fat-lined bacon curing ovens and disused warehouses and converted factories. For the industrial corsetry of the London Bridge Quarter. For the wrong side of the tracks. But it's the right side of the tracks because something's happening here. This is a London neighbourhood coming out of its chrysalis. It's got a buzz. (And I don't mean the apiary.) In sum: 1) you won't have seen this part of London; 2) it's very central; 3) Kate Moss was here; 4) it's got a couple of cutting edge little galleries and museums; 5) it's only a seven-minute walk from Borough Market (and today's market day); 6) we start with a fab of riverscape (to say nothing of he most important mediaeval fortress in Europe and London's great iconic bridge); 7) we end with the only seven-star hotel this side of Dubai. Guided by Chris or Fiona or Isobel. *Right up there with hidden places, hidden history.
To go on the London's Hidden Village walk meet just outside the exit of Tower HillTube (meet by the "Tower Hill Tram" coffee stand).

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. Anything else? Yes. For sure. Absolutely fab pubs. Classic old traditional pubs. Guided by Sue.
To go on the Secret Village Pub Walk meet Sue just outside exit 2 of St. Paul'sTube.

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

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.

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.

MAGNA CARTA 1215-2015
Guided by a lawyer, this Inns of Court "special" marks the 800th anniversary of the Sealing of the Great Charter – the foundation stone of the Rule of Law, Liberty and Human Rights. Ancient history? Hardly. Those hard-won freedoms and rights – to say nothing of the all-mportant matter of holding our rulers in check and holding them to account – are beseiged as they haven't been for centuries. The tomfoolery of a prime minster who was clueless as to what the words Magna Carta actually meant being merely the dunce cap on "deep history" that's very worrying indeed. So, yeah, hugely important. And of course the history, in tandem, much of it, with the sense of place – you know, showreel time, those moments on a London Walk when the electric-current-hits-the-tungsten  – is fascinating. It's fascinating working in both directions from 1215. Joanne traces the story from Trial by Ordeal to Universal Human Rights. From Autocracy to Democracy. And look, if you're looking for a "pairing" walk (well, tour, to be exact) go on our Salisbury & Stonehenge trip. And why is that? Here's why. Only four copies of the original Magna Carta survive. The copy in the Chapter House at Salisbury Cathedral is primus inter pares – because it's the best preserved. Every last detail is important. And telling. And moving. The composition of the ink, for example. Partly made from iron filings, it eats into the parchment. In short, those words – enshrining, as they do, Habeus Corpus and everything else that matters between ruler and ruled – aren't written on that parchment. They're written into it. They were written not just for 1215 but for all time. Don't miss it. Guided by Joanne.
To go on the Magna Carta 1215-2015 walk meet Joanne just outside the exit of TempleTube.

Marylebone - A Behind the Termini Walk
With a luxury hotel as protection from a busy main road, the quiet streets behind London's last main-line station host a veritable ABC including Alfies Antique Market, a famous Beatles film location and the birthplace of Lords cricket. Together with Mr Blue Plaque, the author of 101 Dalmations, the bravery of the SOE and the social housing of Octavia Hill this is a most surprising area to explore. Guided by Rachel.
This walk is part of the Behind the Termini series of walks conducted by Rachel. To go on the Marylebone – Antiques, Beatles & Cricket walk meet Rachel inside the main station concourse at the top of the entrance to MaryleboneTube.

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.

"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.
And here's a very different image. In many ways a much better image. In every way a fuller, much more colourful image. If you can spare a click do take a look.
"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.

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.

Medical Bloomsbury & the Wellcome Collection Tour

An incurable case? You got one too? “Suffering” from it the way we are? An incurable case of curiosity. I mean. This walk won’t cure it – it’s not something you want cured of course – but it will palliate it. Palliate it because where else – even in London – will you “meet” – in two hours ­(I mean if you think about it it’s almost like a phantasmagoria/a what you guys smoking on that walk) – where else will you meet phantom limbs, the fattest man in England, arsenic in that lock of George III’s hair, virtual autopsies of Inca and Egyptian mummies, Siamese twins, Napoleon’s toothbrush, glass models of Ebola viruses. I mean, WHOA! Katy. Bar. The. Door. Some Wellcome! And it’s not just the Wellcome Collection on this walk. This neighbourhood’s Medical London at its most scintillating. A medicine chest of old specialist hospitals. Let alone the British Museum. The School of Tropical Medicine. Dr. Sloane. Resurrectionists. More cadavers than you can shake a femur at. Well, you get the idea. And – it doesn’t get any better than this – we’re making the rounds through this medical history-saturated neighbourhood with a physician. A public health physician. May I introduce Doctor Barry? You'll be in his care this afternoon.

To go on the Medicine Man – Medical Bloomsbury & the Wellcome Collection Tour meet Barry just outside the exit of Russell SquareTube.

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.


Comedy Store to Comic Strip Guided by a Stand-up Comic

For fans of British comedy; a stroll through the West End and Soho following the growth of Alternative Comedy/Cabaret in the late 1970s to the disappearance of Freddie Mercury's birthday cake. Paying homage to the performers, famous and infamous, who changed the comedic topography of Britain. Discovering the clubs where the laughter revolution began, before they disappear into the miasma of urban redevelopment. Dependent on the group, there is scope for a refreshment break, morning coffee/Bloody Mary.

Please note this walk is guided by a stand-up comedian. Comedy is an extremely serious topic, no humour is guaranteed and any laughter is purely coincidental. Not really suitable for children or the sensitive....
To go on the Ministry of Silly Walks – Alternative Comedy walk
meet Andrew just outside exit 1 of Leicester SquareTube. 

Hampstead Village has been home to many creative free-thinkers and never more so than in the 20th century: people who sought to look beyond Georgian and Victorian gentility of Hampstead’s leafy streets in the commissioning of cutting-edge modernist homes. Reflecting the individuality of their owners these homes offered a different domestic aesthetic and within the modernity of interiors bathed in light accommodated new concepts of open-plan living. Meandering the neighbourhood we will trace design movements together with one-off architectural statements – and no doubt express opinions of our own. Comes the walk, comes the guide: David's a recognised expert in this field. Into the bargain, he's a top flight professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide, City of London Badge Guide, let alone Emeritus Chair of the Guild.
To go on the Modernist Architecture in Hampstead walk meet David just outside the exit of HampsteadTube Stop.
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.

The Building Stones of the Isle of Dogs
East London’s Canary Wharf sits on the Isle of Dogs like a chunk of displaced US downtown real estate. Skyscrapers constructed of steel and glass plus a myriad of extraordinary and exotic stones, imported from across the World. Granites from Brazil, Sweden and South Dakota. Limestones and marbles from Vermont and Indiana. Come and discover the geology of the building materials used in the Canary Wharf development. Here the streets really are paved with gemstones …! The walk is guided by UCL's Ruth Siddall, a professional Geologist.
To go on the Mountain Building of the Isle of Dogs walk meet Ruth just outside Canary WharfTube. (Meet outside the main exit, which is the exit opposite Middle Dock.)
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.

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 LONDON – Passion & Perversion in High Places
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.
To go on the Naughty London walk meet Sue just outside exit 5 of WestminsterTube.

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.

What kind of London Walker are you? If you're the ramblin', gamblin' type – you know, willing to roll the dice and go for it – this just might be the walk for you.  How's that Latin proverb put it? Ovis ovem sequitur. One sheep follows another. No sheep out here. Well, none of the two-legged variety. Just ramblin', gamblin' London Walkers. The one in a million sort.* One in a million who are going to see a bit of London that the 999,999 will never see.
Okay, let's zoom in. Zoom in on a king and a castle. Mighty important, both of them, in the story of the New River. And let it be said now – it's not new and it's not a river. But it sure is fit for purpose. Four centuries on it's still doing what it was built to do – supplying London's water. When the New River was proposed – "he's talking about building, from scratch, a river 40 miles long? Is he mad?" – no one had built such a thing on this scale before. Think of the daunting accuracy that was required. Little wonder an eminent mathematician was called in to survey it. And then there were the trifling sums – irony alert here – involved. The great begetter – the chap who dreamed this little job up and got 'em digging – ran out of money. It was King James to the rescue. And the castle? The Castle Climbing Centre as it's known these days was built in the 19th century. It was a pumping station – you know, to get the flow of the river pumped up, get it getting a move on.
Anything else? Well, our ramblin', gamblin' London Walkers – drawing to an inside straight and hitting it – are going to make the acquaintance of one of London's "lost rivers"; and a couple of "ornamental" lakes; and "Paradise Row"; and "murder and autumnal mists in a fab park"; and "the greatest London novel" of them all; and brick earth and iron and glebe land; and quakers and Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Metropolitan Board of Works; and two of our greatest poets; and the Virginian company and a royal mistress (and, sure enough, I mean does day follow night, a royal bastard); and "our other Shakespeare"; and "a threat to the Commonwealth...who rode with his face to the horse's tail"; and the invention of horsepower; and a church spires/London village view; and a transvestite; and, well you get the idea...
And hey, let's double down, close with another old Latin proverb: Happy is he who is able to understand the cause of things. If your ramblin' gamblin' nature gets you out on this one you're going to be happy not just because you've got to see things other people don't get to see, but also because Lady Luck's favoured you with "understanding the cause of things," the which is a byproduct of the people who guide this walk, i.e., members of the Inland Waterways Association subset of London Walks guides. They know – from many years, professional, first hand experience – about Inland Waterways, be they canals or New Rivers that aren't new and aren't rivers.
For the dates that this walk takes place, click here.
To go on The New River Walk meet Roger
(or one of his Inland Waterways Association colleagues)
outside Manor HouseTube (Finsbury Park exit: no. 6)
*Thirty million visitors come to London annually. No more than 30 of them will get out here. Though it's actually probably one in two million. Because at least half of the people on this walk will be locals, Londoners. 

"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.

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.

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 BAYSWATER – Executions, Mews & Secret Pubs
Bears repeating. Executions, Mews & Secret Pubs. Let alone stucco, garden squares, back streets, Hitchcock's Frenzy, Martin Amis's "district of transients", four-legged "transients" and their Valhalla, cosmopolitanism (with accompanying restaurants), "that" convent, the blessing of the horses, the Park, a secret river, Roman roads, celebrities galore, ethnicity galore, the most extraordinary place name in London, English football, "where they shoot soldiers", the gallows, "hanging Mondays", Tiddy Dol, Blair, Little Arabia, a Frenchman's waters, houses that aren't houses, and a biographical hit parade. Guided by Simon.
To go on the Old Bayswater – Executions, Mews & Secret Pubs walk meet Simon just outside exit 3 of Marble ArchTube.

Mews, Mansions & Monuments
This walk explores West Brompton, a delightful 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 include 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 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 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. 


Village on the River, Palace in the Park

Historically Fullham was "the great fruit and kitchen garden north of the Thames, a place of market and nursery gardens, intermixed with fine houses built for prosperous Londoners in search of  purer air".

It was also the site of the ancient Bishop of London's Palace on the Thames, originally built in the 8th-century. Walking in the extensive grounds and gardens of the Palace – the trees here are more than 250 years old – you could easily be deep in the English countryside. Indeed, it's gardens gardens everywhere you look, for Fulham Palace also boasts fine examples of kitchen gardens and an Elizabethan knot garden!

And there are curios and oddities everywhere, not the least of which is the last remaining bottle kiln of the famous 17th-century Fulham Pottery.
That enough? No? Ok, here's a further helping or two. The Thames crescents here. Fulham occupies the peninsula formed by that great sweeping arc. As is so often the case, the river's the key. Not least to Fulham's great age. The river meant ease of transport, accessibility. And invasion for that matter. And how great's Fulham's great age? Well, bears repeating, Fulham goes back 13 centuries and more. The Bishop of London "acquired the manor of Fulham in 704."  That's a lot of previous, a long, colourful and varied (in the extreme) historical parade. Fulham's been a fishing village. It's got buildings that pre-date Columbus' epoch-making 1492 voyage. In addition to those market and nursery gardens it's known early industry and gentlemen's estates. It's largely late Victorian today. Late Victorian well and truly gentrified. All the more remarkable that when you bear in mind that not so very long ago Fulham "had a poor reputation." Anything else? Yes, Fulham's had its share of notoriety. So, a phantasmagoria of a historical parade – and a social roller coaster. All of which Guide Sue will open up to view. Fab walk. Fab walk that becomes a sensational walk when you strap on the booster rocket detailed in the N.B. below. A word to the wise: whatever you do DON'T leave your camera at home. You're not only gonna wanna see this, you're going to want to capture it, take it home, show it off.

The Old Fulham – Village on the River, Palace in the Park walk goes from Parsons GreenTube Stop

 N.B. timing is everything. Which is by way of saying, we always run this one on a Saturday or Sunday in May when the Wisteria will be in the full flame of its spring glory. The wisteria – it's absolutely massive – it was planted 150 years ago – is the great feature of the old Victorian kitchen garden at Fulham Palace. How special is it? Well, let's put it this way: it's probably the most photographed Wisteria on the planet – it's on postcards all over the place. It's unforgettable. So beautiful it makes you glad – or gladder – to be alive.

The meeting point for the Old Fulham – Village on the River, Palace in the Park
walk is just outside the exit of Parsons GreenTube.

For the Latecomers catch-up stop turn right and walk 100 metres to the Green.

The Old Fulham walk ends near Putney BridgeTube.

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 subway 2 Shoreditch exit of Old StreetTube Stop.

The Latecomers Catch-up Stop is within sight of subway 2 Shoreditch exit 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.

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.

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 prezzie or two is certainly a possibility because we swing by here on  Open Studios Day in the summer and in the winter we time so we can put in at the the artists' Christmas Fair. Timing's everything! 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.

Party Town! If you're prim and prudish better give this one a miss. Because it's, well, juicy. It's the historical 'Rock n' Roll' walk of the swinging 1660s and beyond. Real life 'Game of Thrones' stuff. Bedroom antics back then – and hey presto it's Jon Snow the bastard today. Not to mention Samantha Cameron. Hello Party Town! Welcome to Love Nests Out West! The chapter headings are delicious and salacious – let alone dizzying, dazzling, sizzling. "The Return of the King." Boots Washed in Champagne. Duels in Pickering. Legover London & Mistresses off the Mall. Bowler Hats. Betting on Raindrops. Virgins with Leprosy. Her Majesty's Secret Service. The Assassinated Raeehorse. The American Bar. Laying Down Your Wife for Your Country. The Prime Minister & the Actress. "Well [Giggle] He Would, Wouldn't He." And that's just for starters. For seconds, try this. "I'd put this one in the top four of the 58 different walks I'm personally able to guide. It's got everything I want in a walking tour" (David). In addition to putting in an occasional appearance as a weekend Tour du Jour this walk also takes place every Wednesday afternoon and every Friday afternoon. Watch the video.
To go on the Old Palace Quarter walk meet just outside the Green Park exit of Green ParkTube.

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.

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.

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.

OLD WESTMINSTER – 1,000 Years of History

                                                           photo by Jon Block

This is the cornerstone, the great seminal London Walk. Miss it and you've missed London. For Old Westminster is London at its grandest: the place where kings and queens are crowned, where they lived, and often were buried. It's the forge of the national destiny, the place where the heart of the Empire beat, the Mecca of politicians throughout the ages. The past here is cast in stone and we take it all in: ancient Westminster Hall, the Houses of Parliament, the Jewel Tower, and Westminster Abbey. And to see it with a great guide is to have that past suddenly rise to the seeing a photographic print come up in a darkroom. It doesn't get any better than this. And embarras de richesse, we'll also explore the private face of Westminster - the London equivalent of Georgetown! Unlike the tourist hordes, we'll get to see the hidden and ever so picturesque Georgian back streets where all the political salons are! And fancy a listen? Click here. It's the opening of the Secret Westminster chapter in our forthcoming book, London Walks London Stories. A chapter that was inspired by - and draws on - this walk.

Here's the kind of catch-in-the-throat, "writing on the wall" history that you get on the Old Westminster walk. This old sign is fading, almost ghost-like...and all the more moving for being so. It's an old World War II bomb shelter sign that we see in one of those "picturesque Georgian backstreets" on this walk. A stark reminder that this neighbourhood was right on the Luftwaffe's flight path. And into the bargain, if you're looking at the sign from this angle you're standing right in front of the house where the Anti-Appeasement movement got started! Welcome to 1940 ladies and gentlemen. This isn't "textbook" history. It's in-your-face history. Standing here looking at this sign you're going to hear the sirens in your mind's ear. And smell the cordite. And shudder. And thank Winston Churchill. And his generation.
 To go on the Old Westminster – 1,000 Years of History walk meet your guide on the pavement just outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube. The walk ends at the great west front of Westminster Abbey, or just along from there in Parliament Square. A two-minute walk from WestminsterTube.

Call it the can-do factor! Call it thriven and thro. Call for and put out the flags. Send up the rockets. Emblazon it across the skies: this walk now goes into the Olympic Village. The days of being on the outside looking in are over. We're on the inside – guiding Olympic London up close and in situ. No hocus pocus, just focus. 'Twas a consummation devoutly to be wish'd.
So, Hello Olympic Village – and I'm here to tell you, baby, you were worth the wait! And on that note, the practicals... 
In the Summer 2015 London Walks programme – which kicks in on May 1 and runs through October 31 – the Olympics London walk will take place 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.

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.

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!


The horrors of this war were assuaged by the efforts of dedicated chaplains such as Tubby Clayton and Woodbine Willy. We celebrate their work in France and Flanders by visiting their London churches. Along the way we see memorials to those brave men such as the son of Charlie Bam, the David Beckham of his day, recipient of the Military cross and we finish with the memorial to the City Regiments and remember the feats of the two heroes of the HAC, Pollard and Haines, both recipients of the VC.

This walk created and guided by the London Walks resident military historian, Anne-Marie.
The meeting point for the walk is just outside the exit of Tower HillTube (meet Anne-Marie by the "Tower Hill Tram" coffee stall).

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. 

“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).


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.

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.

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.

Four Dates that Changed the City's Architecture
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." Thus spake the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. He might have talking about this architecture walk. It's educational. It lights up things. Fires the quick forge and working house of thought (as another poet put it). We've got those four dates. We've got looking. We've got knowing (well, finding out). And putting those two together – looking and knowing – to get seeing. Yes, seeing. The Eureka moment: "oh, yes, I see it now – I get it." Get why the City's residential area is concentrated in one place. Get what 'Flash Gordon' has to do with City plans. Get it about Eurobonds and their link to architecture. Get why so many tall buildings. And get – well, get a pretty good glimpse anyway – of what next?
To go on the Post-War City Architecture walk meet Guide of the Year Paula just outside BarbicanTube.

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.


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 Regency. It's just a couple of decades. But what a difference maker, as brief historical "eras" go. Which is why it's got its own chapter, its own walk, in our annual autumn London History Course sequence of walks. It's a walk that's full of Eureka moments. For example, the flash of insight we get from the two poles - chronological and geographical - of the period: London's having the rare distinction among the great cities of the world of being both a major port and a capital city. How the West End was being transmogrified by the only great piece of town planning ever to be executed in London, how that balanced and was mightily different from the opposite pole, the greatest work of engineering in London since the building of the Roman wall in the second century. It's the story of a canal, a market, two barracks, and a great new thoroughfare cut through the existing fabric of narrow crowded streets. It's a tale - and a walk - through an aristocratic "garden city" with eight large villas set among groves of new plantations and an artfully contrived lake nearby, all surrounded on three sides by long ranges of stucco-fronted terrace houses. It's a walk that X-rays into those villas - lets us see into them, see the rare birds who lived there and how they were lured there, a walk that takes survey of the antics they got up to once they'd come to roost in Regency London. It's a walk of "take away nuggets" - how the outward appearance of the London town house changed dramatically and how getting up to speed with that helps us to a much richer "reading" of London. Requires a special guide and it's got one, Anne-Marie. She's got that all-important additional key - the special key - local knowledge. She'll be walking to the walk because she lives here, lives in Regency London.
To go on the Regency London – The London History Course walk meet Anne-Marie just outside Great Portland StreetTube.

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 the 21st century. 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 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.

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.

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.

 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 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.

It bodes well that Fitzrovia takes its name from the illegitimate son of a king who was known as the Merry Monarch for, to this day, Fitzrovia has lost none of its raffish, irreverent air.  Of the four quarters that make up London’s West End (Mayfair, Marylebone, Soho and Fitzrovia) Fitzrovia features least on the usual tourist trail.  This has distinct advantages. Fitzrovia fizzes with surprises: from Banksy’s iconic stencil-style guerrilla art to a wondrously quirky church that, astonishingly, is taller than Westminster Abbey.
Charles Dickens, who lived for a while in Fitzrovia, once described London as ‘streaky bacon’ with the lewd and bawdy sandwiched between elegant grandeur.  Nowhere is this truer than in Fitzrovia.  Relatively unscathed by 1940s bombs or 1960s town planners, Fitzrovia boasts an opulent square yet still oozes the bohemian charm that grew out of its having been, over many years, the beloved home of artists, such as James McNeill Whistler, Walter Sickert and Grayson Perry.  And, oh my, the tales, the goings on. By way of example, it was here in Fitzrovia, whilst lodging with Ford Madox Brown, poor Dante Gabriel Rosetti once fell through the floor into the pit below – the cesspit below.
The same free-wheeling spirit that captivated artists also attracted radicals, revolutionaries, writers and philosophers, and in hedonistic Fitzrovia even the formerly repressed middle-class intelligentsia seem to have discovered sex. An informal group of bon viveurs and thinkers called the Bloomsbury Group, famed for living in squares and loving in triangles, also colonised Fitzrovia and we spill the beans on how their lifestyle further spiced up Fitzrovia’s rollicking, frolicking reputation.
Nowadays much of our titillation comes to us over the airwaves, so it is wholly appropriate that our walk ends near an institution which keeps up Fitzrovia’s tradition of delighting our imaginations: the BBC. The BBC’s Broadcasting House is an exciting blend of old and new which eases us gently back into the twenty-first century world of consumerism and Oxford Street where our walk draws to a close at Oxford CircusTube. Guided by Jane.
To go on the Rollicking, Frolicking Fitzrovia walk meet Jane just outside the exit of Warren StreetTube.

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'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.

ROMAN LONDON - The London History Course
Nothing beats seeing it. You can read about the founding of London, why it is where it is. And about what the Romans built here over the four centuries they were here. But it's better to go over the ground. To see it. See how the pieces fit together. Stand where the Romans stood. And take survey. And there's a lot to see. Even though we're exploring a city that was founded 40 years after the birth of Christ. Natural features of course. But there have been more than a few excavations and natural (and unnatural) upheavals in the last 1500 years. Excavations that over the last century or so especially have been exacting and supremely professional. Much of the Roman city – its extent and appearance – has been laid bare. Understood, mapped, laid out, reconstructed. Welcome to Londinium (and, later, Augusta). That's what this walk uncovers and explores. Oh and – no small point this – the walk's guided by a former Museum of London archaeologist. Want to read more? See the blurb directly above this one. Describes The Roman City walk. There's a fair bit of overlap.
To go on the Roman London walk meet Kevin outside the exit of Tower HillTube. (He'll be right next to the "Tower Hill Tram" coffee stall.)

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

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.


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.

Guided by an award-winning journalist, this walk explores the changing relationships between the people, the press, politicians and royalty.  We look at some of the pioneers of journalism and the stories they told and how authorities have tried and often failed to control what is reported.
After the gongs, Sandy leads with royalty. She examines how the media's relationship with royalty has ebbed and flowed, using the Buckingham Palacy balcony appearances as a motif. How the tradition started. Why it became a focal point for public appearances. Sandy ranges across the abdication crisis, the Princess Diana "crisis", the death of a king, how the media-monarchy relationship has moved from only reporting what was agreed (usually very little) to a position where almost anything was fair game, etc. Sandy draws on her own reporting experience to show how the "pool" and rota system works.
The next phase of the walk looks at war reporting. How the appetite for information during the English civil war and the turbulent years that followed, drove the development of newspapers. How  conflict  has  been  a  driving  force  for  innovation through  the centuries.   The first embedded journalist puts in an appearance. Let alone that "reporter" Winston Churchill – how his Boer War experiences mad him sympathetic to radio pioneers like Ed Murrow, who wanted to report live from Trafalgar Square during the Blitz.
The "programme" ends with an in-depth report on protest and parliament. Sandy brings things bang-up-to-date by looking at how individuals and groups are using social media techniques to increase the power of protests outside parliament, the which is a tantalisingly modern echo of the early days of the "London Mob" outside the old Palace of Westminster. It's tale that ranges from William Caxton, the father of printing in this country (appropriately enough he's buried right here) to Charles Dickens (he honed his writing skills as a parliamentary reporter). We'll get the low down on College Green – we'll be standing right there. We'll get across Parliament's struggles with the press. We'll meet – indeed "doorstep" them – two key figures in the history of British journalism: Lord Reith, first Director-General of the BBC (more than anybody else he made it what it is); and the founder of investigative reporter (let's keep his name a secret until we're on his doorstep).  
And as for guide Sandy – best possible guide for this walk. Award-winning reporter. Fellow of the Radio Academy. Professionally qualified Westminster Guide. And not just any old "Westminster Guide." To use the American term, she was Phi Beta Kappa in her year. Came first! Added the Guide of the Year Award to her trophy case. Anything else? Yes, she's the "voice" of "the blue book runs" – the audio version of "the knowledge" London cabbies have to do to get their "gong". Translation: she's a consummate Londoner! You got it: "London Walks guides do it best" (old English saying).
To go on the Scribblers, Scandal Mongers & Social Reformers walk meet Sandy just outside the Green Park exit of Green ParkTube.
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).


 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.

 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 Lost Lanes & Old Pubs off Regent Street

Borderlands are always interesting. Always interesting – and “interesting.” Think of San Diego and Tijuana. The border’s there for a reason. Depending on your viewpoint it’s like a barrier of white blood cells “protecting the body against infectious disease and foreign invaders.” That would be the viewpoint of Mayfair (San Diego), looking across the border of Regent Street into the Tijuana of Soho. That was one of the principal objects of “the Great Wall of Regent Street” – to protect, seal off, lah dee dah Mayfair from [aristocratic nose haughtily sniffed here, the name barely fit for polite company] Soho. I mean, the goings on in this part of Soho. The “sort of people” you have there. “People brought to this country as an infant ‘concealed in a basket of vegetables.’” Or “smuggled in in a barrel of potatoes, my dear [aristocratic shudder here].” And jazz musicians and [horror of horrors] an oilcloth shop and an Irish asylum keeper and a French diplomatist who doubled as a transvestite and [another shudder] a cigar shop to which a gambling and drinking room was attached and “that sort” of woman [translation: ladies of easy virtue] and [another sniff here] the Particular Baptist Chapel and a Bavarian Chapel and a French Huguenot church and “the report said ‘his male organs were in every respect perfectly formed’” and a coach painter and “oh, the names of the streets my dear, quick, pass the smelling salts.” Well, you get the idea. That’s one side of the borderlands, the Soho side. The other side of course is Mayfair. Different world. Utterly. We explore both sides of the border. The one is ragtag and rough and tumble, the other is rather better at concealing its warts and warty beginnings. “Robes and furred gowns [let alone mansions] hide all.” Anyway, right up my street, this walk. “Lost lanes” – love ‘em. “Hidden pubs” – love ‘em. “Shadows of the past” (however murky) – love ‘em. Characters [however murky] – love ‘em. I mean, how do you improve on getting through border control in a basket of vegetables or being a transvestite Chevalier diplomatist? To paraphrase (ever so slightly) Ruthven Todd’s great poem,

            Cities are more than places…

            A city remains a city on credit from the tide

            That flows among its rocks, a sea of people.  

To go on the In the Shadows of the Past – The Lost Lanes & Old Pubs off Regent Street walk meet just outside exit 2 of Piccadilly CircusTube.

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 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.

Over Waterloo and Westminster Bridges and along the embankments that verge them. In this golden mile we find – we rejoice in – we commemorate a scorrendo of great poems and poets. Find them. Honour them. But most important of all, pause to hear their music – their luminously possessed words. Their transfiguring words. Words that Lance unfurls like a toreador's cape. 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 – this almost goes without saying – Lance. Lance aka "The Voice".

Bye bye 21st century. We're walking back into the 16th. And at our side, showing us his London and recounting his adventures – some guide! – Matthew Shardlake. Well, actually you'll be a three-some. Or a 23-some. Because Guide of the Year Paula will be along as well – mediating between Shardlake's London and her London, our London, your London. (A city is a book we read with our feet. Some book[s]. Some read[s]. Some walk.) Where we going? What you going to see? Well, we'll start – of course – beside the Thames. Run softly sweet Thames, the silver flowing Thames. And, into the bargain, the safest form of transport in mediaeval London.  Then, yes, of course, we're going to head up that hill to the purlieus of the wondrous talking bird that can converse as any Englishman. Shardlake will size us up there. And then it's a quick nod and on to his Then it's on to his house and his beloved Lincolns Inn.  Got your hanky? Because it could get a bit teary when we "witness' Chancery’s end at the hands of the evil Richard Rich. And there's more. We'll be walking the streets where Guy the Moor lived, and where the notorious Barak supped too much on ale for his fair Tasamin’s likes. With lamentations – let alone that "supped full of horrors sensation – we'll, like Shardlake, bear witness to where he was made to watch the burning of the heretic Anne Askew.
Good walk. Special walk.
To go on the Shardlake's City walk meet Paula just outside the exit of TempleTube.


"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
, 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

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 by the fountain outside the Green Park 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, David.
To go on the Shock of the Old walk meet David just outside the north exit of Green ParkTube.


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).

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,'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 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:

Okay, to recap:

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

This one is more for the morbidly minded than the faint hearted. (I know you're out there! Come in with your hands up!) As it says on the tin, Soho's Silk Stocking Murder Mile shocks and appals, recalling murders that, for one ghoulish reason or another, have captured the public's imagination and stuck fast in our memories. On our way through Fitzrovia, (originally known as North Soho) we hear stark reminders about how unwise it can be to engage in sordid love triangles or moonlight as prostitutes as we come face to face with a brutish butcher who used the tools of his trade to dispense with his mistress. We also hear about the landmark murder that prompted the criminal fraternity to ditch the tools of their trade - their guns - giving rise to the bonhomie between cops and robbers idealistically depicted in British films in the 1950s. And what decided Charles Dickens to portray the death of Nancy at the hands of Bill Sykes as he did? We find that out too.
North Soho was rebranded as Fitzrovia to distance itself from the Soho south of Oxford Street which plummeted in the respectability stakes when Soho became Europe's most famous red-light district and England's epicentre of organised crime. Here we meet World War II's 'Piccadilly Commandoes' (or good-time girls) and those of their number who fell prey to an odious serial killer who the press dubbed the 'Black-out Ripper.' We also meet the mobsters and racketeers who indiscriminately shredded each other to ribbons attempting to maintain 'territorial rights' over the illicit gambling and after-hours drinking industry, and the vice barons running the sex trade. As if preserved in aspic there are still corners of Soho where the atmosphere is thick with a mixture of menace and titillation and here the stories from that tawdry world of gangland rivalries and the 'white slave trade' remain as vivid as ever. As we move deeper into Soho, amidst all the fug of deceit and double-dealing, answers to 'who dunnit?' questions become increasingly rare. Here those who came to a grisly end always had impossibly exotic nicknames or aliases as long as your arm and although silk stockings were regularly used for their intended purpose, they all too often doubled as murder weapons.
Shocked and unnerved as we may be by the tales from this melting pot of scandal, we will also be delighted by the vitality of present-day Soho and the colourful vibrancy of China Town as we pass through to our finishing point in Leicester Square where we find, just yards away, Leicester SquareTube.
To go on the Soho's Silk Stocking Murder Mile meet Jane just outside the exit of Goodge StreetTube.
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.

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.

Keats-cadenced, Wisteria-wreathed, Karen-conducted, Sunny Cinderella Village

This one'll tick pretty much all your boxes.

It's got a secret, lost river – an important lost river. It's got a village green. And you want green – it's got the Heath (the grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild, white hawthorne and the pastoral eglantine). It's got the best Wisteria in London – it's why we run the walk on this days of days. It's got some of the best cafes in London (what's not to like about a bakery/cafe combo called Euphorium whose Wifi code is croissant?). It's got those bullet holes on the facade of the pub (yes, that's right – Ruth Ellis). It's got mews. It's got a Mediterranean feel, especially on a leafy, sunny day. Point counterpoint it's got London's last remaining Skittles alley. It's got the street an important press article half a century ago described as "the most beautiful street in London." It's got Keats and Keats house and that tree (and, yes, hear it? there, over there, in that melodious plot of beechen green, and shadows numberless [that nightingale] singing of summer in full-throated ease). And point counterpoint indeed – it's got that staircase and what happened on it that night in 1818. It's got Orwell. It's got the Day of the Triffids alley. It's got Aldous Huxley's brother Julian. It's got an armoury that's now put to better use. It's got – beyond Keats and Orwell – a roll call of the famous. It's got ghost adverts. It's got the strawberries and cream of red brick and, one street over, stucco. It’s got the orange and green (and, yes, red and yellow) of an open air fruit and veggie market. It’s got London’s best little bookshop. It's got the buzz and bravery of the Royal Free. It's got locals who are characters. It’s got magic casements and near meadows and the still stream (again) and hill-sides and the next valley glades. It’s got Karen (only "the world's greatest guide" as Travel & Leisure dubbed her). It's got it all. Right down to the wonder of the question: is it a vision or a waking dream?

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. Want more? Click here
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.

STOKEY – A Misty Village

Quoth the Raven, Nevermore. Except now it’s Evermore. Because yup, we’ve finally Lewis & Clark’d – well, Rachel’d* – Stoke Newington. And yup, weird old Edgar Allen Poe is part of the act, part of the magic lantern of weird and wired and wonderful Stokey. (Poe's schooldays in Stoke Newington backdropped and inspired The Pit and the Pendulum. And, yes, that croaky stokey Raven.) So let’s head into that realscape – which is also a dreamscape – of a very special London village. (Poe proposes: “They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." Rachel disposes.) So what’s Rachel got for you? Well, were Stokey a bridge hand you'd want to bid Seven No Trumps. Let’s play the hand. Item: the only Elizabethan church in London. Item: the Victorian “castle” looming over the skyline. Item: Barbara Windsor. Item: the New River. Item: the Stokey Salmon Smokery. Item: the Salvation Army. Item: Amy Winehouse. Item: London’s favourite neighbourhood park. Item: that most potent, most enticing London mix of all: traditional and trendy, unspoiled and humming & buzzing. Item: non-conformity. Item: standing like one thunder-struck because of a footprint in the sand. *Rachel created the walk; Rachel guides it.

To go on the Stokey – A Misty Village walk meet Rachel just outside exit 3 of Manor HouseTube

THE STRAND – The In-Focus Walk
Disraeli called it "the first street in Europe." It's one of the three most important streets in London. In terms of its history and pageantry and general goings-on it's a fireworks display of a street. It's the linchpin of London. It's got that name. It's got lots of secret rivers (which we'll see). It's got a secret parade ground. It's got theatres. It's the accompanying nightlife – great hotels and restaurants. It's got palaces. It's the lilies of the strand. It's got a royal peculiar. It's got gas-lit alleyways. It's got the Royal Society of Arts. it's got a street that "behaves" like no other street in the United Kingdom. It's got a beastiary. It's got architectural detailing second to none – little particulars you'd never see off your own bat that you'll be pleased as punch to make the acquaintance of. (You'll be forever and a day pointing them out to your friends whenever you all go down the Strand from here on out. It's got literary wonders – the inspiration for Yeats' The Wild Swans at Coole, for example. It's got... well, the list goes on and on. This walk is the biography of the Strand. It's guided by Fiona.

"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.  April 2015 update: I am going to say more because this Spring's outing – Saturday, April 11 – comes right in the middle of the Russian Orthodox Church's Easter weekend. So here's a piece I wrote that talks about same – it'll be part of the walk. And I've sprinkled – more or less at random – some recent photographs of Strand on the Green here and there in the piece.
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.

TARDIS ON THAMES – Doctor Who by the River

Join us on an intergalactic journey without leaving the banks of the Thames never mind the planet! “Tardis on Thames – Doctor Who by The River” allows you to walk in the footsteps of various Doctors, Assistants and even Cybermen! See where the Daleks attempted to take over the earth in 1964, stand at the very spot where the Doctor and Rose sealed their friendship in 2005. Help to crack the code troubling one William Shakespeare at the historic Globe Theatre. This fun, family-focussed walk takes us through some of the iconic moments in Doctor Who history whilst at the same time taking in some of the most iconic landmarks in the capital. Just how did The London Eye help save the world? How did the Ogrons walk the Southbank without being noticed? We even come to face to face with the Doctor's greatest enemy of all – ITV! Join actor, writer and Doctor Who aficionado Jolyon as he guides you through the thrills and spills of the cosmos wearing a long scarf and packing at least two packets of jelly babies – would you like one?

To go on the Tardis on Thames – Doctor Who by the River walk meet Jolyon* – he of the long scarf – just outside exit 4 of WestminsterTube.
The walk takes about two hours and ends at the Tooley Street entrance of London BridgeTube.
*Comes the walk, comes the guide. Jolyon's a National Theatre and West End actor (let alone a plunged-into-the-hilt Doctor Who aficionado – he's the author, for heaven's sakes, of Was Conceived in a Dalek)

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.

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 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.


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


Ok, waste not, want not. Wrote two "blurbs" for this one. Here's the other one. It's the one we're using on "the calendar". Run up this flag pole just in any case wants "more info". (And speaking of more info, here's a very fine addendum to all of this. It's a pop-up about a very special "find" one of our walkers made while out Beachcombing with us.)

Ah, yes. Our Beachcombing walks. They give satisfaction. In heaping measure. Ok, let's see them steadily and see them whole. 1) By walk's end you'll be the proud possessor of a mediaeval roof tile or two (we use ours for candle holders when give a dinner party - conversational pieces don't come any better) and an Elizabethan clay pipe (or two). And perhaps something even more extraordinary. Something Roman. Or even Mesolithic. In the words of a Guardian journalist, "two hours later and muddy of boot, we headed happily for lunch, our pockets full of pieces of London's history." 2.) You're walking on the bed of the River Thames. Gives you a completely different perspective. London - the bridges, the buildings, the foreshore, the Thameside walkways, etc. - look different from down there. 3.)  They've got lots of wonderful "recess" moments. Recess moments as in being at school. Remember? The surge of bliss and excitement when teacher's just announced, "ok, time for recess" and you charge out to the playground . To play. Well, "recess time" - playtime - on a London Walks Beachcombing Walk is when Fiona, having pointed something out, explained it, given you a real life, real place, real object "power point lesson", says, "ok, recess time." Well, she doesn't put it in those words - she says "ok, going to turn you loose for a few minutes on this stretch, let's see what you can find. You pick up something that looks interesting bring it back to me and I'll tell you what you've got, timeline it for you. Good hunting."  4.) Kids love them. 5) Great guide. "London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour" (New York Times). Fiona's a professional archaeologist. She's the world's leading expert on this stretch of the foreshore. She's the archaeologist the Department of Environment usually calls on to handle the Inter-tidal Archaeology strand of their River Day projects. 5.) Consummate archaeologist professional that she is, she makes sure it's done right, from first to last. Right down to issuing everybody with a new pair of protective latex gloves. 6.) The Beachcombing Walks are the only London Walks in the programme that I would go on every single time if I could. Let me try and underline for you how special the experience is. Put it this way (I wrote this after the last one I did). I'd estimate that maybe 150,000 people a day move along there and glance at that stretch of the beach. None of them will have seen what we saw - even though they were looking at very same chunk of foreshore we were "probing". Surely recommendations don't come any more 24 carat than that!

THEATRELAND (with the one and only Simon W.)
It's Theatreland. It's what you'd expect. Theatres. Stage doors. Stars. Glamour. First nights. Lights. Curtain calls. Corpseing. Directors. Dressing rooms. Backstage. Stage door Johnnies. FX, Footlights and FoH. Understudies and chorus lines. Miscues and mishaps. Greenrooms and musical directors and pros arches and strobes. Wings and twirlies and upstaging. Funny stories. Gossip. Aftershow hangouts and restaurants.
Main thing, though, is it's guided by an actor, an actor who knows this patch of London – all its fauna and local ecology and hideaways and byways – the way the Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew knows his roses and orchids. An actor but also a guide. And what a guide. Simon's the Head Guide at the BBC. And at the Royal Opera House. He's a top flight Blue Badge Guide – earned one of the top awards in his year.
So, for once, let's do a blurb that's a little bit different. Make this one an Above the Title job. (It's a theatre term. When the performer's name appears before the title of the show or play that's Above the Title. It's reserved for the big stars!)
Well, this one's got a star guide. And in any case everyone knows what the name of the walk – Theatreland – denotes.
And why not let someone else say it. Someone other than me, I mean. Why not let a walker say it. Counts for a whole lot more than if it comes from me.
Here it is, a Trip Advisor review of a walk Simon did for a family in December.
Over to you, Erin.
Hi! We were in London for Christmas week and we had a wonderful private tour with your guide Simon Whitehouse. I've already written up a review on Trip Advisor, but I wanted to share it with you, too.

Thank you for creating such an incredible resource for London visitors. Our tour with Simon made us feel very connected to your vast city, and we can't wait to return.

Many thanks!


Erin Shachory


Highlight of our London sightseeing!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile
Our family spent Christmas in London this year, and seeing the city for the first time seemed daunting, even though I was armed with guidebooks and websites and apps. Referred by the trusty American travel guru Rick Steves, I looked into London Walks, and it's not an understatement to say it changed our trip.

To be clear, our family decided to book a private tour with London Walks in advance, so we had our own guide at a time we chose. Not sure whether our kids would be engaged or not, it seemed best to book our own tour and not get lost in a group for our first London Walk. Now, however, I'm a fan and can't wait to do more tours!

The booking process was easy via email and every communication with London Walks was professional and helpful. I'm a bit of a Type A American traveler and like to have the major components set before I travel, and London Walks gave me a clear sense of where to meet our guide, the exact cost of the tour, and the details of what we'd see.

Our tour was "This is London" and our guide was Simon W., who told us that this tour and all things Dickens were his favorite things to share with visitors. Because we are a family of 5 with three teenaged daughters (ages 11 to 15), you never know if a tour or guide will keep everyone engaged, but I never had to worry with Simon. My older kids are history lovers and he rose to the occasion, able to answer any question they tossed at him. The true game changers were when he casually mentioned a BBC Sherlock fact to my oldest, a huge Sherlock fan, and then again when he bonded with them over London street artist Banksy.

But I digress. The tour itself was masterful and professional. The pace was quick but not difficult and we covered a lot of ground in chilly, wet, breezy weather. Simon showed us the major sights - Parliament, Big Ben, River Thames, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Queen Anne's Gate, Trafalgar Square - but his timing was impeccable. We stood beside Big Ben and heard the chimes as Simon completed his information about the clock. We arrived at Buckingham Palace just as the royal guards began their changing-of-the-guard ceremony, and Simon led us away from the crowds to an empty spot where we had an unobstructed view of the guards as they traveled back to the barracks. We were so close, my daughter got close-up shots of a guard smiling at her!

However, the best part of the experience for us was engaging with a London native and feeling like we were in incredibly good hands. It felt very much like we were out for a stroll with a good friend of a friend, rather than a tour guide assigned to us. It did not feel like a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all tour, even though I'm sure Simon has seen all those sights a million times.

The next day, after we'd been to Harrod's and walked Coven Garden and visited the Harry Potter Studios, all of which we enjoyed immensely, my kids still insisted that Simon's tour was the highlight of their trip!

In short, go to London. Give yourself the gift of London Walks and immerse yourself in the city's rich history with an experienced guide. Let their love of London catch fire within you, too, until you fall madly in love with it, too.
Visited December 2015
"It all comes down to the guiding."
To go on the Theatreland walk meet Simon W. just outside the Villiers Street exit of EmbankmentTube stop.

The artist William Hogarth knew all about St Giles, where Georgian London’s poorest eked out a miserable existence. We start this walk in St Giles’ parish, taking in the exact spot where Hogarth imagined Gin Lane, his best-known work. The star of the show is Hogarth’s friend, Thomas Coram, a man with a plan to help destitute mothers and to save their children from, as he put it, ‘The inhuman custom of exposing New-Born Children to perish in the Streets, or training them up in Idleness, Beggary and Theft.’   We’ll find out how Coram made friends and influenced people, some of whom became campaigners against baby farmers and child chimney sweeps. We’ll also learn about another famous fan of the project, George Frederic Handel.  Ah, Handel’s Messiah: thanks to the Foundling Hospital, Handel rescued it from obscurity and conducted a performance in the 18th century's version of Live Aid. As a result, the Hallelujah Chorus became a global hit and into the bargain provided vital funds in the hospital’s hour of greatest need. Times have changed ­ – though maybe not as much as we'd like to think – but Thomas Coram’s vision of pioneering better chances for children lives on in Coram, the charity’s modern name. The walk ends at Coram headquarters in Bloomsbury, next door to the Foundling Museum. So give yourself time to visit the museum’s art and music collections – and its very fine little café.
The walk is guided by the ever so urbane veteran guide (and Foundling Hospital stalwart) Charlie Forman.

The City of Wolf Hall
This walk creates a portrait of London in the early 16th Century, with particular emphasis on the life and times of Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More.

More and Cromwell had much in common, both lawyers, commoners, who rose to be Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, and ended their career on the block at Tower Hill.

The walk starts with an exploration of Smithfield  – site of the stake where heretics were burnt alive and to St Bartholemew's Monastery – given to Richard Rich after his decisive role in the downfall of Thomas More. We  continue to St Paul where Martin Luther's books were burnt, and later, where Puritans attacked those who were dancing round the Maypole. We walk along the main markets streets of London – to Thomas More's birthplace, and to the site of More's and Cromwell's townhouses before finishing at the site of the scaffold where More and Cromwell met their ends.
The walk was created by  – and is guided by – the distinguished Museum of London Archaeologist and museum curator, Kevin Flude.
To go on the Thomas More & Thomas Cromwell – The City of Wolf Hall walk meet Kevin just outside the exit of BarbicanTube.

So you think you know Trafalgar Square?
Think again.
Better still, look again. Take a Fiona-directed look. For the first time in your life, get the blinders off – really see Trafalgar Square. That's when you'll know it.
Well, no need for that if you can spot the portable flogging and beheading kit without our help. And – in the back of your mind I hope – the pepper boxes without pepper that make you think of bird shit every time you look at a Rubens. And the death cart with the lawyer in it. The death cart carrying him to his beheading. And every inch of the way he's face to face with another head that didn't have a body attached to it. (It, the other head, was affixed to a pole secured to the cart – the pole, needless to say, positioned so the head was in the face of the condemned lawyer, leering and jiggling at him the whole way. Saying, "see me, this is you in 45 minutes.") And a headless woman with six children – "sandwich in her hand, no mouth to put it in" – and the culture-shifting importance of that moment for English literature. And the Roman officer who, drawing his sword to behead a beggar, changed his mind and decided to get a job as a saint. And the woman facing the firing squad. And cyphers and sea-shells and doggie paws and a nose. And funerals, endless funerals. And New England. And how to "read" the architecture so everything locks into place like the lines of a sonnet. And the pyramid. And the measures. And the weighting allowance (and why it is where it is). And the vegetable cook. And what is it about those columns? And that "too warm work to last long" meant a warm body didn't last long. And the ghost ship in Trafalgar Square. And that Janus-face amazed by the company it's keeping – the less weird-witted survivors of a blurred time. And those that bareback rode the crest of untamed seas. And the statues...
OMG the statues. For starters, "the worst statue in England." And what about that scroll in his right hand? What's that mean? Any connection with the most famous pun in history? Which was? And two horses shot out from under him? And being left for dead on a battlefield? And a fool proof means of stopping sati in its tracks? (Sati – you know – burning widows to death on their husband's funeral pyre.) And banishing forever the moronic dismissal "what's that old 19th century fart got to do with me and my selfie times?" by hearing him say, "so perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another."
And over here, what about the supreme exemplar symbol of Christian militarism? Old Blood and Bones I mean. Aka the First Gravedigger. Frowning under his beetle-brows, looking like Abe Lincoln dying of diarrhoea, with his mournful whiskers and bloodhound eyes. (Well, pre-John Wilkes Booth Abe Lincoln.) And being shipwrecked off Ceylon. And having his brother killed in that charge. And his baby girl burned to death. And having two horses shot out from under him twice. And losing his two old friends Broadfoot and Sale at Ferozeshahr. And, dying, saying to his son, "Harry, see how a Christian can die." And 30 years later son Harry being shot by an Afridi and bleeding to death on the north-west frontier of India. And having to deal with having talked Sale out of returning to Kabul where his, Sale's, wife and daughter and son-in-law were and how they were caught up in the massacre, the massacre that was to its day and age what 911 is to ours. A whole army and most of the camp followers – we're talking 16,000 people – wiped out. Well, not quite the whole army. One badly wounded surgeon got out, made it back – a sabre slicing off the top of his head, the normally fatal slash having been slightly deflected by a copy of Blackwell's Magazine he'd put in his hat to guard against the cold. In the event it guarded against something else. But go ahead – well, Fiona will go ahead – make the connection with Sherlock Holmes. 
And you don't want to get to know this man? And his times? What, are you as pig ignorant as Ken Livingstone? Cut from the same cloth as those Americans who called themselves Know Nothings and were proud of it?
Look at the statue and then look at each other with a wild surmise, ladies and gentlemen. How weird is it, the British public's strange attraction for religious generals? And what does a name tell us? And an article of clothing? Yes, that's right looking at these statues we're looking under the bonnet, seeing into some of the innermost recesses of a time and a culture, seeing their workings. 
Still think you know Trafalgar Square?
Anything to add? Oh, for sure. This one's got a superstar guide. Fiona. Last year's winner of the Guide of the Year Award.
Any downside? Just this. The next time you're in Trafalgar Square with a pal you're going to be a handful. "Oh, look at this. And that. Did you know? Get a load of this. How amazing is that?"
Better allow a lot more time. You and your pal aren't going to be whizzing through Trafalgar Square the way everybody else does. You'll be the only ones there with your eyes open. Everybody else, well they might look like they've got their peepers open – but that's an, er, optical illusion. For all they're seeing they could be right out of The Night of the Living Dead.
And there, in a nutshell – well, in a few hundred words – you have the plat of an IN-FOCUS walk. They're a really close look – a fine-tooth combing, a richly rewarding look – of a single famous London street or square. That's the two-sentence short version.
For the long version, click here (it's a description of the Parliament Square IN-FOCUS walk but said discussion is accompanied by a really detailed explanation of IN-FOCUS walks generally, what they do, where they go, their audience, why their hour has come round now, etc.).
It was a city of gabled houses, royal palaces, law courts markets, walled gardens and innumerable churches. Still essentially a mediaeval city. But a mediaeval city poised on the brink of momentous change. London was on its way to becoming a metropolis. This walk, Tudor London – part of the London History Course sequence of walks we run every autumn – drills down into the London of John Stow and Elizabeth I and Shakespeare. Finds it, uncovers it, restores it. We see what's survived – appropriately enough we begin at a City "bar" (a gate, not a boozer) under the lee of the finest half timbered buildings in London. The river – no, not the Thames – and the ditch is just along from us. There are other surviving buildings and structures (by which we chart our course). To say nothing all the trace evidence that's less obvious – place names, street patterns, transformations wrought on the natural contours of the city, to say nothing of present day institutions that have come down to us from that period and which speak volumes about the economic goings-on and social tonalities of given London districts. And, as always with London Walks, the walk's far more than an "antiquarian bumble" from one relic to another. Guide Hilary – historian, let alone OBE – makes connections, sketches in backgrounds, provides context. That's the London Walks hallmark – you don't just see what's there now, you find out why. What it was – the growth of capitalist enterprise, large-scale immigration from the rest of England, etc. etc. – that shaped the city, wrought the changes, gave it its character and flavour, made Tudor London Tudor London.
To go on Tudor LondonThe London History Course walk meet Hilary just outside exit 3 of Chancery LaneTube.

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.

In 1900 London was the centre of the largest empire the world had ever known. It was the first great era of globalisation; international trade was booming. Then, catastrophe. That global capital was battered and shattered by two world wars. Among its many wounds: economic and physical damage, not least from aerial bombardment in both conflicts. But down was not out. It took years but London recovered – picked itself up, pieced itself back together. Its domestic revival came first. The "bigger picture" recovery – London's once again bestriding the international stage like a colossus – took longer. The city of cities didn't fully regain a semblance of its former global clout until the 1980s. But the "big bang" – when it came – was spectacular. In several senses of the word. London rocketed back up to financial preeminence – the "visibles" of which ranged from eye-watering house prices to the Manhattanisation of the City's skyline to the brash and swagger of London's gold coast (Docklands). But it also led the world into financial catastrophe. This walk through "20th Century London" looks at "only yesterday" to see how we got to "today". It follows in the wake of the Zeppelins and the Heinkel bombers to explore the highs and lows of London's living memory – the raging thunder doo wopper roller coaster ride that's been the modern experience of the great world city. So, overhead: trajectories of aerial destruction. Down on the ground: what was wrought – and the London that rose from the rubble and ashes. Looking in particular at architecture that is like barium tracing: architecture that tracks London's 20th century experience. What it was before, how and why it was what it was in its day, where it was headed, where it is today. And what it might be tomorrow.

"If you want to know London better, if you want to learn some things about the world's most cosmopolitan city that most people who spend their lives there never learn I can think of no better investment than London Walks" (The New York Times). Could have been describing this walk. A walk that makes the new familiar and the familiar new. A walk that teems with unexpected delights, odd places and passing strange things and people. With – in short – a quorum of quintessential quirkiness. Grade A quintessential quirkiness. Quintessential London quirkiness. A taster? Try hidden palaces, The King's Speech Royal Chapel, the hotel where George Orwell worked, the chair with a flying guinea pig and – the jewel in the crown – a gothic chapel hidden away from public view and not visited on any other London Walk. Well, you get the idea. What's not to like.
To go on the Unexpected London walk meet Hilary, Kim or Alison just outside the exit of TempleTube.

Somers Town, once one of London's worst slums underwent a transformation in the 1930s and now you can discover this hinterland of Euston before it is transformed again. With the art deco Carreras Black Cats, two historic hospitals, paper mache bugs, a new 'Super Lab', Dickens, Mike Leigh and Walter Sickert plus the best washing line poles in London, Somers Town's history is indeed unique. N.B. this is "the short version" blurb for this walk. For a "more extended discusioin" of the walk click here.
This walk is part of the Behind the Termini series of walks conducted by Rachel. To go on the Uniquely Euston walk meet Rachel outside Mornington CrescentTube.

The Unknown East - Post 2012!
"The future belongs to the East" the Lonely Planet Guide opined.
In 2012 the world focused on a small area of East London. All changed, changed utterly because of that "event" and the run-up to it. The millions have gone – the global audience has moved on. So let's go an see what all the excitement was about. See the difference the Olympics can make. 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's been dubbed the new Venice. Profoundly satisfying to have a really good look at it, a considered look, without all the razzmatazz and distractions. A great view – the best view – of the Olympic site. See what's really happening. Infinitely better than having to rely on what the talking heads on a screen told us.
The walk will start and end at West Ham station on the Jubilee, District and H + C tube and C2C train services.
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 Millennium of London's Building Materials
Find out about the history and geology of London's building stones! London is built on clay, and although this is good for brick-making, there are no local stones of sufficient quality to build monumental and civic buildings fitting of a capital city. During Roman and Medieval times, Ragstone and Reigate Stone were imported from Kent, and following the Great Fire in the 17th Century, Portland Stone became London's iconic building stone and today stone is imported from all over the world. This walk, guided by a professional geologist, will look at the City of London's architectural history through its building stones. No previous knowledge of either geology or architecture is necessary.
To go on the Urban Geology at Guildhall & Gresham Street walk meet University College London Geologist Ruth just outside exit 1 of BankTube Stop.

VICTORIAN LONDON - The London History Course
A walk that's like one of those Victorian zoetropes. (From the Greek root words ζωή zoe, "life" and τρόπος tropos, "turning".) In short, a wonderful mixed bag of life, loves, death and beyond from about 1840-1900

Item: A Music Hall which had been a Sunday School. Item: A home for Red-Lion Mary, housekeeper to a burgeoning pre-Raphaelite artist. Item: Insurance brokers offering funeral expenses if you paid 1d a week. Item: A high church offering spiritual succour to the poor with a workhouse just a few hundred yards away. Item: The hokey-kokey men proffering the best ices in the country before prostrating themselves in the first Catholic church to be built in London. Item: Not forgetting that almost any physical illness was catered for from childhood to the aged, disabled and those seeking alternative treatment. Item: To, er, top it all architecture to swoon over as the Waterhouse "cathedral" towers over High Holborn. Item: A star guide – Anne-Marie

To go on the Victorian London walk meet Anne-Marie just outside the Kingsway exit of HolbornTube.

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.)

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. The meeting point for the Viva Vauxhall walk is just outside exit 2 of VauxhallTube, opposite the entrance to the mainline station.

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.

WAR MEMORIALS & EMBASSIES - The Building Stones of Mayfair
This geological walk along Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner will take in the
main building stones used at the western end of the famous street of
Piccadilly, as it crosses the valley of the "lost" River Tyburn. We will
end the walk at Hyde Park Corner, traditionally the home of War Memorials
commemorating the fallen of the UK and the Commonwealth. A wealth of
building stones are used in this area, from ancient Australian granites to
Norwegian Marbles and English Limestones. Come and find out how countries
are commemorated in stone and how stone could make buildings a target for
WW1 Zeppelin attacks! The walk is guided by a professional geologist.
To go on the Memorials & Embassies - The Building Stones of Mayfair walk meet Ruth outside the north exit of Green ParkTube.

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.

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.

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.
"Henry liked York House so much, he allowed Wolsey to give it to him."

Thomas Cromwell lived in the city, but the dramatic events of the English Reformation, driven by the private life of Henry VIII, were often played out at Whitehall. His main London residence, it was a latter day Camelot. Going over the ground, peeling the centuries back like so many layers, this walk explores "the Forbidden City." What the ancient seat of the Bishops of York was like, the trace evidence that's still there, how Henry acquired it, how he developed it. And then, coming up through those earliest layers, how, just over a hundred years later, Whitehall became a potent symbol of Stuart power. And then – nowhere is the tapestry of London history more gripping than here – the appearance of another wolf in those precincts. A wolf that came down on the fold of the divine right of kings to rule Britain. The thud of an axe on a king's neck on January 30, 1649 routing those symbols, vanquishing that "divine right" for ever. What it of course didn't end was the moving pageant of Whitehall, of "the Forbidden City." Oliver Cromwell moved in, only to be supplanted by the riotous court of Charles II. And on down the centuries to our hour upon the stage, our exploration of "the most important street in the United Kingdom." We explore what's left and what's of later vintage. Trace the footprint of what has gone, a royal Palace that lasted only two hundred years, where our current nation was forged. The essence of history is in the last five letters of the word. And this walk – this part of London – has no equal in terms of "story." And maybe no equal in terms of guide – Fiona's the London Tourist Board's newly crowned Guide of the Year!
To go on the Whitehall of Wolf Hall – Tudor & Stuart London walk meet Fiona just outside the Villiers Street exit of EmbankmentTube.
London at its most raw and artistic
Time to get wicked in Hackney Wick. It's out there – London at its coolest, London at its most undiscovered.* What's not to like about that combination? The Wick's crammed with pop-up bars, artists, theatre and canals. Fun to see. Fun to discover. Fun to get to know. To find out, for example, amongst other things, what links The Wick with John Lennon, Mahatma Ghandi, Prince Edward and the fastest smoked salmon slicer in the world. Not to mention – deep breath here – the churn of its history. This one time hub of Victorian industrial invention had the heart ripped out of it by WWII bombs and 1970s town planners but it's now re-inventing itself. Re-inventing itself with the best kind of fuel, the best kind of ferment – Hackney Wick is home to the greatest concentration of artists per square foot in Europe. And the logistics? Couldn't be simpler. We start and finish at Hackney Wick Overground. But – yes, I'm giving you a knowing look here – perhaps pop in for a cheeky  canalside  ginger beer before heading home. That's if you want to leave....
*Well, undiscovered by most of us. All those artists sure have discovered The Wick.
To go on the Wicked Hackney Wick walk meet Maitland just outside the exit of Hackney Wick Overground (Railway) Station.

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. Okay, so much for what the walk's about. Here's what you see. (Well, some of what you see.) 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.

a walk of remembrance
Relive World War I in Whitehall and meet the politicians who ran the show – close to each other and far from the front. Be there where men blocked the streets answering their call to enlist. Remember those amongst them and in the conscripted armies who died and then understand how one unknown warrior could mean so much to so many. Get behind the public personas to encounter the intelligence chief with a bathtub in his office and a Foreign Secretary with a passion for birdsong. But also feel the difference war brought to the place – parks as offices, the Mall as a munitions museum, and a square where calls for peace were silenced as it too was comandeered for war service. Come to rest at a cenotaph which explains why a war which started in eurphoria ended not in a victory celebration but in sober reflection. Your qualified City of Westminster guides Charlie, Emmanuel and Mark are an established team who will give you a unique insight into a centre of power where a Great War became a World War.
To go on the World War I in Whitehall walk meet Charlie just outside the Broadway/Westminster Abbey exit of St. James's ParkTube.

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 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 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.

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.

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'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