“Walk along the most beautiful stretch of the River Thames in London”

London calling.

London Walks connecting.

This… is London.

Story time. History time.

London Walks. Streets Ahead!


There are approximately 500 different London Walks. You’re about to hear a guide’s introduction to one of the 500. The walk in question is one of our specials. It comes up now and then. Anyway, I think what you’re about to hear might be the best – the most appealing, the most delightful, the most enticing – introduction on Planet London Walks.

It’s a little piece by Ann about her William Morris & Friends Walk up in Hammersmith. I mean how do you go wrong with an introduction in which a guide sets before you an invitation to ‘join me to walk along the most beautiful stretch of the river Thames in London.’ An introduction that’s like a Christmas stocking stuffed with any number of agreeable surprises and delicacies and succulent goodies. By way of example, we learn from Ann that William Morris’s opinion of parliament was that the building should be emptied of politicians and filled with manure.”

Ok, now you know who’s concocted this little wunderbar of an introduction to a very special walk. Yes, it’s the wonderful Ann, one of the very brightest stars in the London Walks firmament. I think of Ann as the Good Fairy of London Walks. She’s beautiful, she’s fun, she’s beyond bright and she makes everything dazzle. Every story she tells, every place she goes, everything she points her magic wand at.   

The walk is called William Morris and Friends. It makes its next appearance on January 14th.

But with this little piece there are wheels within wheels.

Ann’s intro – which you’re about to hear – is like one of those beautiful floating lamps the Japanese send down a river in their Toro Nagashi ceremony. Ann set this water lamp afloat a couple of years ago here on the London Walks podcast. And here’s the thing, it went missing. Drifted off somewhere, we don’t know where. We weren’t even aware that it had gone missing. It was a couple of years ago. Hundreds of water lanterns – London Walks podcasts – had been set afloat since that day. And then an American walker, Pat, was leafing through the London Calling back catalogue, so to speak, the William Morris podcast caught her eye, she clicked on it to have a listen. And nothing was forthcoming. That particular water lantern had wandered off. Pat wrote to us. Said, “I’d love to hear it, can you rescue it and put it back up.” That was a couple of months ago. It’s taken that long. But here it is, Pat.

And the story doesn’t end there. Pat also asked if we would be running the walk in February, which is when she’ll be making her next trip to London. She said if we could run it then, she’d plan her trip around that date. Well, there weren’t any plans to run it in February – not so close to its January 14th outing – but there are plans now. Ann’s going to put one on especially for Pat, for when she’s here. This kind of thing warms the cockles of my heart. I love it when we can do stuff like this. Come through like this for an individual walker. It’s happened a few times over the years. Obviously it wouldn’t be possible across the board. Pre-Covid London Walks was taking probably 250,000 people a year on one or more London Walks. And needless to say we couldn’t individually tailor 250,000 walks schedules. Happily, that impossibly tall order is not set before us. But just occasionally – Pat’s request for a William Morris walk in Februrary is the most recent occasion – just occasionally people do ask if we can run a certain walk on a certain day. And quite often we’re able to obliged. Not always. But quite often. It’s a matter of pride and considerable feel-good for us. That we’ve got that sort of flexibility, that we can often make it happen for people, that we can come through for them, that we’re small enough and nimble enough to be that responsive. That’s so London Walks. Anyway, so much for the back story. Here’s Ann’s floating lantern, her introduction to her William Morris & Friends walk.

[Ann’s introduction to her William Morris & Friends Walk follows]

You’ve been listening to This… is London, the London Walks podcast. Emanating from www.walks.com –

home of London Walks,

London’s signature

walking tour company.

London’s local, time-honoured, fiercely independent, family-owned, just-the-right-size

walking tour company.

And as long as we’re at it,

London’s multi-award-winning walking tour company. Indeed, London’s only award-winning walking tour company.

And here’s the secret: London Walks is essentially run as a guides’ cooperative.

That’s the key to everything.

It’s the reason we’re able to attract and keep the best guides in London. You can get schlubbers to do this for £20 a walk. But you cannot get world-class guides – let alone accomplished professionals.

It’s not rocket science:

you get what you pay for.

And just as surely,

you also get what you don’t pay for.

Back in 1968 when we got started

we quickly came to a fork in the road. We had to answer a searching question:

Do we want to make the most money? Or do we want to be the best walking tour company in the world?

You want to make the most money you go the schlubbers route. You want to be the best walking tour company in the world

you do whatever you have to do

to attract and keep

the best guides in London –

you want them guiding for you,

not for somebody else.

Bears repeating:

the way we’re structured –

a guides’ cooperative –

is the key to the whole thing.

It’s the reason for all those awards, it’s the reason people who know go with London Walks, it’s the reason we’ve got a big following,

a lively, loyal, discerning following – quality attracts quality.

It’s the reason we’re able – uniquely – to front our walks with accomplished, in many cases

distinguished professionals:

By way of example, Stewart Purvis, the former Editor

(and subsequently CEO) of Independent Television News.

And Lisa Honan, who had a distinguished career as a diplomat (Lisa was the Governor of St Helena, the island where Napoleon breathed his last and, some say, had his penis amputated –

Napoleon didn’t feel a thing – if thing’s the mot juste – he was dead.)

Stewart and Lisa –

both of them CBEs –

are just a couple of our headline acts.

Or take our Ripper Walk. It’s the creation of the world’s leading expert on Jack the Ripper, Donald Rumbelow, the author of the definitive book on the subject.  Britain’s most distinguished crime historian, Donald is, in the words of The Jack the Ripper A to Z,“internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper.” Donald’s emeritus now but he’s still the guiding light on our Ripper Walk. He curates the walk. He trains up and mentors our Ripper Walk guides. Fields any and all questions they throw at him.

The London Walks All-Star team of guides includes a former London Mayor. It includes the former Chief Music Critic for the Evening Standard. It includes the Chair of the Association of Professional Tour Guides. And the former chair of the Guild of Guides.

It includes barristers, doctors, geologists, museum curators, archaeologists, historians,

university professors,

criminal defence lawyers,

Royal Shakespeare Company actors,

a bevy of MVPs, Oscar winners (people who’ve won the big one, the Guide of the Year Award)…

well, you get the idea.

As that travel writer famously put it, “if this were a golf tournament,

every name on the Leader Board would be a London Walks guide.”

And as we put it: London Walks Guides make the new familiar

and the familiar new.

And on that agreeable note…

come then, let us go forward together on some great London Walks.

And that’s by way of saying, Good walking and Good Londoning

one and all. See ya next time.

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