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Posts Tagged ‘Thames’

Walking the London that Londoners Love

Posted by garethwatkins on November 7, 2010

I don’t know, you wait 13 months for a blog post and suddenly one comes along all at once. And then it makes no attempt to explain where it’s been all that time. Typical.

Below is a street-by-street guide to a walk through London that I finally typed up for a visiting American that I to follow on Twitter (@LinzLuvs). I’ve taken a few people on this tour in the past and they’ve really enjoyed it and I thought she might. I don’t think she ever even read the guide, to be fair, but its greatness (if I do say so myself) still stands. So I figured that rather than be wasteful I’d let it out into the open for others to use. It may read a little dry, but when employed is a lovely little journey:

This walking tour is designed to give you a real sense of London. The London that Londoners love and the London that Londoners talk about when people ask them about London. It’s not museums, tourist spots and the places the guide books send you. It’s designed to be deviated from, only take part of the way or followed religiously. It’s best done guided by me obviously, but that’s hardly practical. You will pass literally hundreds of bars and restaurants along the route at which to take a break (which I would highly recommend doing).

This walk is best done in the early evening, starting at dusk. The Thames by night is phenomenal, so getting there once night has well and truly set in is perfect.

Start at Great Portland Street tube station (Circle, Hammersmith and City, and Metropolitan lines)

Staying on the right, walk down (keep The Albany Pub on your left) Great Portland Street to Clipstone Street (which will be on your left).

Looking left down Clipstone Street you will be in the best spot in London for a view of the BT Tower. Honestly, it’s a surprisingly good view.

Turning left, walk down Clipstone Street two blocks and turn right down Great Titchfield Street.

Not too much along here but some of London’s smaller pubs and a few blue plaques, but follow it down until you reach Oxford Street.

Ignore Oxford Street on this tour. It’s an afternoon/day/week in itself.

Cross Oxford Street and walk down the little alleyway opposite, just next to Dorothy Perkins (yes, I know it looks creepy, but it isn’t).

You come out on Ramillies Street (by an astonishingly obvious gay gym on your left as you walk down)

At the end of the road you hit Great Marlborough St (that’s “Marl-bruh'”), turn left.

Then first right at Poland Street. Along here you will find Bodeans, which is the best place for an American abroad to get a taste of home.

At the bottom of that, second left, turn left on Broadwick Street.

Then third on the right, down Berwick Street.

By this point, you will have been in Soho since you left Oxford Street. This is the London that those of us who live and work in central London frequent and tourists rarely truly discover.

Please don’t let that scare you. You’re safe.

Got that? Good. It’s about to get seedier.

At the bottom of Berwick Street, go down the dodgy looking alley opposite. No seriously.

At the bottom of which (passing the three or four sex shops) turn left on Brewer Street.

Follow it along until you hit Wardour Street. Then turn right and take the first left onto Old Compton Street.

Welcome to the heart of gay London.

This is also the heart of media (pronounced “meeja”) London.

Essentially, everyone is looking at you and judging, so be awesome!

Walk along Old Compton Street and take the 4th right down Moor Street.

At the end of here you will come out onto Cambridge Circus, next to Priscilla Queen of The Desert the Musical and its massive glittery stiletto.

Cross Charing Cross Road and then Shaftsbury Avenue, essentially diagonally crossing Cambridge Circus, and just along Shaftsbury Avenue on the right is West Street.

Walk the length of West Street to Upper Saint Martin’s Lane, passing The Ivy and The Mousetrap. The Ivy is the restaurant of choice for established celebrities and will probably have a few paps hanging around outside. The Mousetrap is the longest running show in the world.

Turn right down Upper Saint Martin’s Lane, passing Stringfellows on your left, and turn left up Long Acre. Stringfellows being the UK’s most famous strip club.

Walk along Long Acre and turn right at Covent Garden underground station down James Street.

Walk down James Street to Covent Garden itself, stopping briefly to look left along Floral Street at the twisty bridge crossing the road.

Turn left and follow the square round until you reach Culverhay on your left. Turn down here.

Take the first right down Wellington Street.

Follow Wellington Street along until you reach The Strand.

Cross over the strand and head down Lancaster Place, which turns into Waterloo Bridge. As you cross the bridge you will have about the most complete (ground level) 360 degree view of London you can find.

Once you have passed over the River Thames, though still technically on the bridge, take the stairs down on your right.

These lead down to the Southbank

Walk along the Southbank, keeping the river on your right, as far as The London Eye.

From here there are signs directing you to Waterloo underground and mainline station, from where you can get back to pretty much anywhere in London.

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