Dave the Taxi Driver's


Guide to London

Walking in London

Although I am probably doing myself out of work I can honestly say that this is the best way to see London, if you are fit and able that is. If you are able, but not fit, then this is a good way to start getting fit.

There is much more to London than seeing it from the road and walking is being positively encouraged by the Mayor. You won’t cover as much ground or see as many sights as you would on other tours, be it in a taxi, on a bus or along the river, but you will be in there striding through old mediaeval and Victorian streets, finding those hidden corners of history so easily bypassed when travelling by road and getting to the heart and soul of old London.

I walk as often as possible and I always discover something that I have not seen before even though I have driven by it many times.

You don’t have to overdo your walking. Distances can be deceptive and you might get tired earlier than you think. For instance the area around Fleet Street(EC4) alone, with its passageways and squares might keep you occupied for a couple of hours. Of course also make sure that you are wearing suitable footwear that isn’t going to give you blisters after five minutes. I often pick up passengers who have wandered too far having misjudged how far apart places are. You can wander about aimlessly, or I can help you put together what I would term a ‘Lunchtime Stroll’ without draining you of vital energy which you will need to take you back to your hotel. I think it is best if you decide where you would like to go and what you would like to see and fit it into a couple of hours. Circular walks work better.

There are quite a few reputable companies that specialise in all sorts of themed walks accompanied by guides who know their stuff. They provide fascinating commentaries and bring life to the to London past and present.

There are many varied walks -Shakespeare/Charles Dickens/Ghost/Victorian/Rock Music/Harry Potter etc.

The Ramblers Association has a social group called Metropolitan Walkers which organises walks through London. You could easily spend one month going out every day if you have the time.

Although London has a reputation for inclement weather, this is true only up to a point. Don’t let that put you off. Walking in Hyde Park or Regent’s Park I think is great any time of the year, especially in Winter when the frost is sparkling on the grass and the early morning mist is creeping by the Serpentine.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk is a figure eight walk from Kensington Gardens through Hyde Park, Green Park and St.James’ Park. It is 7 miles(11km) long. Along its route are famous buildings which were significant in Diana’s life, Kensington Palace, Spencer House, Buckingham Palace, St.James’ Palace and Clarence House.

Strategic Routes are a collection of walks suggested by Tfl:-

The Jubilee Walkway is an interesting walk which was originally inaugurated to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. It is 14 miles long (23 kilometres). The route takes you through central London and was planned to connect most of the major tourist sites. There are special directional markers and also gold discs laid into the pavement to denote particular events in the history of the Walkway. It has five sections known as Loops ---Western , Eastern , City, Camden and Jubilee. You could walk it in a day, but two or three days or more might suit you better in order to take in all the sights.

The Lee Valley Walk is 26 miles long (42 kilometres) through the Lee Valley Park north east of London and the counties of Essex and Hertfordshire. It follows the course of the River Lee which eventually flows into the River Thames from Bow Creek, near Canary Wharf. It has green spaces, nature reserves, lakes and riverside trails. This is not a well known area of London for tourists. Part of it is destined to be regenerated, being close to the Olympic Park for 2012.

The River Lee has also played its part in history. The Romans forded the river on a route which eventually went to the West End. The Danes invaded here in 894AD. In 1110AD Queen Matilda, the wife of Henry I commanded the building of an innovative three arched bridge over the river because she had regularly fallen in to the water.

In 1613 the River Lee became the channel for the new water supply for London. It was called the New River. The reservoir was in Clerkenwell (EC1).

There are also two ways in which you can circumnavigate London:-

The Capital Ring is a circular walk of 75 miles ( 120 kilometres) which consists of 15 sections of an average of 5 Miles in length (8 kilometres) each of which can be walked separately. It will take you around the border of London’s inner suburbs……..and The London Loop(also known as the London Outer Orbital Path) which is much longer. A total distance of around 150 miles (240 kilometers) .This is organised in the same way as the Capital Ring but the sections are more varied in length, from around 4 miles (6 kilometers) to 11 miles (17 kilometres) .Of course you can always decide how far you want to walk and create your own section. It takes you through the outer suburbs around the fringe of Outer London. There are a lot of villages and interesting areas on this route which the average tourist, who stays within the central area of London, is unlikely to see. You can also spend a couple of weeks doing this walk. You can book hotels or guest houses along its length and make it into a walking holiday. Just remember that there is no river crossing between Purfleet and Erith on the eastern section.

The Thames Path, which is 182.7 miles (294 K) begins near the source of the River Thames in Gloucestershire and ends up at the Thames Barrier, with an extended section to Crayford Ness which is further east of London. It passes through many English towns including Oxford, Henley -on -Thames, Maidenhead, Windsor, Richmond, Barnes continuing both south and north of the River Thames through London. This is obviously a major undertaking, but the Thames Path is termed ‘easy’ in walking parlance.

The South East London Green Chain links the open spaces of south east London. The walk can start at any of three places by the River Thames-Thames Barrier, Thamesmead and Erith (Riverside) and finishes at Crystal Palace Park.

This is another not very well known area for visitors to London but is not lacking in interesting places to see. As well as the pleasure of the walk itself there is Lesnes Abbey(1178), Blackheath (where Wat Tyler gathered his rebels in the Peasants’ revolt in 1381), the ancient Oxleas Wood, and the fabulous Art Deco, Eltham Palace, the former palace of the Black Prince. In Chislehurst are the mysterious caves and tunnels. There are also circular walks as offshoots to this walk.

I have not covered every walk possible around London but I think there is enough material here to keep you going for dozens of visits. If you need any additional information please email me

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