Westminster Rocks – Urban Geology in SW1

Westminster tube station, London

Guided by Ruth S.

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
9 May 2020 Tour du Jour 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Summer

Down to earth read: Why are Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament undergoing urgent repair? It’s all about the building stones. Join me, Ruth, for this walk to find out more about the urban geology of Westminster and how poor choice of building stone can make a parliament crumble! We will also look at the building materials and architectural histories of Westminster Abbey and its associated buildings, the statuary in Parliament Square and the different ways that stone can represent nations. On the way, we will see a wide range of rocks and lots of fossils too! The walk will finish at St James’s Park Station.

David pumped read: Westminster Rocks. Yup, that’s right – another Urban Geology treat. Treat? Schmeet. Feast is the mot juste. And that’s all by way of saying, walking tours generally are old hat. They’ve been around a long time. People pretty much know the drill, know what they’re going to get: history, biography, some architecture, piquant details they’d never spot off their own bat, etc.

Urban Geology Walks – Reading the Stones – are not old hat. They’re brand new. And they’re different. More than any other walking tour they change the way you see London. Change the way you see it because – in this instance, for example – everybody, not just Londoners, has at least some degree of familiarity with the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, for example – they are after all some of the most famous buildings in the world. What we don’t know, what we don’t see is what a professional geologist sees when he or she looks at those buildings. We don’t know what those building stones are, what their properties are, what went into their formation. It’s jaw-dropping stuff. Aeons and tremendous drama and forces and strange creatures – the summoning up of which (sometimes it’s not solely a matter of verbal conjuring up, sometimes we see them – well, see their millions-of-years-old fossil remains) – it’s not a walk in the park, it’s bareback riding the waves of volcanoes and vanishing oceans and God knows what else. For anyone with at least a couple of digits in the IQ department and a smidgeon of imagination it’s a well-I-never, white-knuckle, over-the-falls ride into the strangest places and worlds and landscapes you’ll ever venture into. Yeah, bears repeating: changes the way you see London. 


The Westminster Rocks Urban Geology walk takes place at 2:30 pm on Saturday, May 9. To go on it – and start reading the stones – meet Ruth just outside exit 4 of Westminster Tube.


“Have done many London Walks over the past 40 years or so – today’s special was Westminster geology, led by Ruth (doctorate in Geology no less). Very interesting and very friendly guide, as has been my experience with so many of these knowledgeable walk leaders. I now know where to find a 50 million-year-old sea urchin in a wall just round the corner from Westminster Abbey, and where to find probably the oldest rock I will ever touch in London (over 2 billion years old). These walks are an absolute bargain for a tenner (or less), and I can’t recommend them highly enough.” Mick O. from London (Mick’s review can be found on TripAdvisor)


“London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour…”  The New York Times

“by far the most impressive series of walks that I have ever encountered are those offered by London Walks”  Travel and Enjoy

“the unfailingly fascinating London Walks… If you can’t find one [of their tours] that captures your fancy, maybe you really are tired of life.”  San Francisco Chronicle

“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


If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Urban Geology Walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have any of the Urban Geology Walks – 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  [email protected] 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) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.


It’s not even close


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