Blackfriars Tube | Map
Guided by Sue
Short read: River or sewer? (How's that for a come hither for this Tour du Jour?)
Long read: 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. The 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 trail – and all the more fascinating for being so! Guided by Sue.
The Lost World of the River Fleet walk takes place at 2.30 pm on Sunday, April 14 and at 10.45 am on Saturday, August 10. The meeting point for The Lost World of the River Fleet walk is just outside the exit of BlackfriarsTube.
"London's best city tours" The Telegraph
"the best in the capital" Visit London
"the unfailingly fascinating London Walks..." San Francisco Chronicle
"Watercourses, when imprisoned in brick or even in iron, are notoriously difficult to abolish utterly. The surrounding earth holds a memory of when it formed the banks of a stream, and tiny capillaries still make their way through it. Even today, where the trains run down to Farringdon, the cutting's high walls are festooned with dank greenery wherever a gap lets the light in, and it feels like the bed of a stream. Indeed, there has long been a story current that the Metropolitan Railway Company simply bought up the Fleet at this stretch, buried it deeper, and laid iron rails on top to keep the ancient waters in their place." Gillian Tindall
"...we may catch what may possibly be a last glimpse of the Fleet, now a sewer, but once a crystal stream running its short but pleasant career from smiling uplands through orchards, gardens and meadows to slide at last 'babbling o'green fields' into what was then the 'silver Thames'" Illustrated London News
If you can't make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Lost World of the River Fleet walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Lost World of the River Fleet Walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We'll tailor it to your requirements. 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 – they're good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing. Or indeed a wonderful gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that's special. Memories make us rich.