High Street Kensington Tube (meet by the 3 Store – next to the pavement [sidewalk], just inside the arcade) | Map
Short version: Old Kensington. London's royal village. One special place, one special walk.
Long version: It's rarely the first – or even the second or third – walk people go on, but when they do get round to taking it, they often say it's the one they liked the most. And no wonder, because Royal Kensington is London at its best – picturesque, stimulating, and full of character. Its parts are as delightful as London can provide: everything from warmly handsome old Kensington Palace (home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales) to Kensington Gardens (all meadows, shaded walks, bowers, and flower gardens, it might be the grounds of a stately home in some rural shire) to cobbled little soigné lanes and mews, girt with pretty cottages and charming old shops; and from millionaires' row and regal avenues to beautifully kept squares and a clutch of the world's greatest museums; let alone a garden in the sky (the largest and most astonishing roof garden in Europe); the secluded town house of the greatest Londoner of the 20th-century, an American president's flat, the most remarkable small literary house in the world, acres of gentility, a secret trap-door into a hidden world, and more history and colourful characters than you can shake a stick at. And as for the "what will I see on this walk?" question – well, just click here and you'll, er, see.
The Kensington Walk takes place at 2 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays. The meeting point is High Street Kensington Tube. On Thursdays the walk is guided by Adam or David. On Saturdays it's guided by Angela or David. N.B. the walk ends back at High Street Kensington Tube – or a few minutes walk therefrom.
"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
"London's best walking tours" Travel & Leisure
"Even jaded Londoners find these London Walks a source of astonishing gems of information about the city in which they live." Daily Mail, Top London Treats
"Never have participated in but having seen and overheard walking tour guides over many years in the US, I was a bit skeptical that most of them were simply platforms for young aspiring actors to perform for small captive audiences. In the case of the London Walks I could not have been further from the truth. The stable of guides include barristers, physicians, professors, authors, historians and archaeologists--folks who actually know a bit about what they are talking about." Rebecca D.
"we were lucky enough to have David to take us on a walk around Kensington. David was the first guide to take us on a walk and from that moment we were hooked" Emberton75 Lancaster, United Kingdom
"this is a very informative and interesting route, the beautiful mews hidden in back streets, tiny alleys, grand addresses, nosey parkers would love this walk. you're looking at architecture, history, famous people's addresses. This particular company use actors and professional people to orate. I have done a different one each time I am in London. they are all equally impressive." Joan C. Cardiff, United Kingdom
"We joined the Saturday afternoon Old Kensington walk, guided by Angela, on a windy, slightly dank day though, fortunately, the rain held off. We spent a considersable part of the walk laughing as Angela was such a witty, entertaining guide who delivered her anecdotes with perfect timing. I spent many years working in London and now regularly visit but the beautiful 'old village' part of Kensington (with its eye-wateringingly expensive houses) was unfamiliar to me and it was fascinating to learn so much about its history. I've already recommended this walk to family and friends and would happily join them and do it again next year. Thanks Angela." BaHertford Hertford, United Kingdom
"My husband and I took part in the Old Kensington walk. Adam was our guide and he delighted us all with his humor, his knowledge and his obvious affection for the city. Questions are encouraged and duly answered. Photo ops abound. And quirky bits of history make Kensington come alive as the small neighborhood you'd long to be part of. As our schedule did not allow time for another tour, it will be first on our to-do list next time we land in London and it should be on your list as well. It is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours learning the history of one corner of London." Rebecca D. Hamilton, Virginia
"Never failed to be amazed at the entertainment on these walks. Of all the ones I have done, the uniform areas are 1 The walk leaders are brilliant. Knowledgeable, entertaining and loud enough to be heard by all. 2 Hidden gems of London hiding behind the rush you normally see when sightseeing, shopping or just going to work in London. 3 Great eating recommendations in places you would not normally find. The reason you should do one of these walks early on your London trip? You will want to do another! This time we did the Old Kensington walk. It did not sound as dramatic as some of the other walks, but it was breathtaking. From meeting up at High Street Kensington tube station and all the rush there, within minutes we were transported back 300 years into a quiet and peaceful area. Lots of history, interesting insights into how area developed, how housing styles developed, famous people who lived there, secret gardens both at ground level and higher, stables conversations into shops and houses, even stables on 1st floor. The church we went into was so quiet and the size of a cathedral, the history outside equally as interesting. At the end of the walk we retraced our steps on our own to take it all in - but it needs the expert to bring out all the interesting details. We stopped at one of the recommended eating places mentioned by the guide – very good." FullNotGlum St. Ives, United Kingdom
See for yourself. Preview the walk – and the guiding. Watch the video.*
*It's a bit of all right, this video – it's a present from a gifted professional American filmmaker.
If you can't make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Kensington Walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Old Kensington Village Walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We'll tailor it to your requirements. And – always – we go to great lengths to make sure the guide-walker(s) "fit" is well nigh perfect. Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk is good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group. And the clincher: a private London Walk makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing. Or indeed a fab present – be it a birthday or anniversary or get-to-know-your-new neighbourhood gift or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not)
The famous white leaflet. "Nah, don't need it, got it all here," you say. Er, roaming charges? Er, dead battery? Er, reading your phone in the bathtub and you drop it? [Smelling salts interval: sick as a parrot. ashen-faced.] Er, read the famous white leaflet in the bathtub and you drop it what do you do? Er, you dry it out. Anyway, maybe worth making a mental note that you can always pick up the famous white London Walks leaflet at the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the old church in Trafalgfar Square. They're on the Information Table there, right by the box office. And indeed they also display them on the shop counter, right by the cash register. And it's win-win because the Cafe in the Crypt is one of the town's delights. Should be on everybody's London itinerary.
It all comes down to the guiding. If you're not assessing you're guessing – buying a pig in a poke.