Walking in London

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London, England

Walking in London Reviews

sarahelaine sarahela…
651 reviews
Enjoy London more - walking Jul 08, 2010
London is a great, glorious city, and one of the most exciting cities in the world. It is also a sprawling, sweaty nightmare, with overcrowded public transport and some of the grumpiest natives you’ll see anywhere. Nobody can possibly claim to enjoy a summer’s day spent with your nose clamped to a business man’s armpit as the overcrowded tube train stops in a tunnel for no reason. This tip is about one of the easiest ways to have a nicer experience in London, see more interesting things, and have more fun.

Stay off the tube.

I am serious, actually. Although London has a population higher than the whole of Scotland and most of Wales combined, the city centre itself really isn’t that big. If you compare the public transport times on www.tfl.gov.uk to the walking times on google maps, it’s rarely more than five minutes faster to take the tube than to walk. For example, walking from the office I work in (High Holborn, so in tourist terms, Covent Garden) and the one I had a meeting in yesterday (Regent’s Park) took 45 minutes, but the tube would have taken 43 minutes including a twenty minutes walk anyway. Many people know that Leicester Square Tube and Covent Garden Tube are five minutes from each other, but few seem to realise that Covent Garden and Buckingham Palace are easy walking distance from each other.

Ah, I hear you say, but I do not know London. What if I get lost?

Well, most smart phones come with google maps so job done. However, if you are resisting living your life through an IPhone, you can always buy the A to Z. It was designed with walkers in mind and is very clear and straightforward.

As well as avoiding the tube, walking in London means that you can see all sorts of random, brilliant things. In most of tourist London, taking the street parallel to the main road is safe and more interesting, architecturally. London is largely 18th century in lay out, so the area built then is full of really lovely garden squares, most open to the public. You can walk under trees past flowers instead of smelling someone else’s chips on the tube. Some of the gardens are incredibly beautiful, and some have really interesting rando sculptures in them. These tend to be memorials to famous people like Ghandi, although there are memorials to tragedies and some are just random weird fountains. The area around the British Museum and North of the Strand but south of Euston and Kings Cross is especially good for this.

There are also loads of chances to spot the wonderful blue plaques which mark houses and buildings where Someone Famous-ish Once Did Something. In the 25 minute walk from Euston to the office I sometimes work in, you pass two famous author’s old houses and at least one where a painter did something notable. Now, you won’t have heard of all of the people there – I’m not being patronising, it’s just some of them were really well known in 1870 but largely forgotten, and not everyone is an expert on conducters from the 1930s, Victorian Doctors, and Mrs Dalloway all at the same time. But there is a good chance of seeing one that interests you as you wander about.

People also worry about safety, and some areas are obviously safer than others. There are very few rough areas anywhere near the tourist parts of London, the obvious exceptions being parts of Camden and the area around Euston and King’s Cross station, but even there you are spectacularly unlikely to run into any difficulties. Basically, normal common sense applies. Don’t go up empty back alleys on your own, avoid side streets after dark (except possibly in Bloomsbury, which is so full of hospitals and universities that you’re probably OK), and keep aware of your surroundings. Don’t listen to your ipod if you’re nervous. Keep any valuables in your pockets and try not to look too lost.
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
lovely_lori88 says:
AWESOME review Sarah!!
Posted on: Feb 26, 2011
londonstudent says:
I couldn't agree more!
Posted on: Jul 08, 2010
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