Walking for me usually means rural. Forest & fields, up into the hills. Across Salisbury Plain or at the very least, round a stately home and through some nice gardens. I’m a country girl at heart, so no one is more surprised than me at how I’ve fallen in love with London. Not many cities have won me over, but the English capital really is a fabulous place.
The perfect city for a last minute weekend away before Mr THL goes away again. Despite only living an hour or so outside of London, we booked a hotel. A one night stay gave us two full days either side to explore. It still wasn’t enough; London is just like work. It expands to fill time.
London is a city that has spread out over centuries, meaning it’s absolutely massive. Walking alone would be tiring and limiting. Time to rethink my reluctance to use the underground. As it turned out, I did more than that. I fell a bit in love with some of the stations. Aren’t they fascinating places, beautiful in their own way?
But then… we had travel cards. We could drop into the earth and pop out again somewhere new as many times as we liked. Why go A to B, when we could go anywhere? A quick google. We wanted to be, at some point, in Greenwich. But if we went a bit further we could pick up The Line, London’s first dedicated public art walk. As Mr THL put it, ‘ There’s an art walk, that massive slide and East London’.
We trained it all the way to Stratford. Started walking and promptly got lost. Walked through a very bland area before finding the route and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Did spot some eye catching poppy street art and Turing Street, so named after Londoner Alan Turing.
I have to confess I didn’t find the QEOP very inspiring, what I saw of it. It’s a bit something and nothing. I can say I’ve been. I don’t know what was there before so I can’t say if it’s an improvement or not. I did quite like the ArcelorMittal Orbit a.k.a The Massive Slide. Looking online, I’d been game to fly down it. Standing at the bottom looking up, I was less sure. Mr THL said he would fancy it, but he’s fearless. Having plans for flying of a different sort later in the day, we walked on.
Wandered, tried to stick roughly to the route of The Line. Didn’t really manage it, we never do. Followed the water , spotted some quirky artworks along the way. Then we came to Three Mills. Be still my beating heart. Why?
Because I have a right old romanticised view of East London. Fuelled by novels set in WW2 (you know the ones, cover always features a gutsy yet misfortunate young lady in a lovely tea dress who will only find her happy ending after lots of heart ache), Eastenders and T.V dramas set in Victorian times. What I’d seen so far didn’t play into my daydreams. Three Mills did- just look at the old beauties. The riverside location. The history.
A short stroll later, the Helping Hands memorial. A tribute to lives lost in 1901. Three men descended into a well in an attempt to save a fellow worker who’d been tasked to measure the water levels, but was overcome by noxious gas. There was a monument placed in their memory at the time, which was replaced in 2001. In a nice touch, fragments of the original have been used in the plinth. I like the blend of old and new, and I like that visitors like me are finding it and seeking the story.
A lot of wandering and getting distracted later it was decided we’d pushed the legs and time hard enough. Time to make use of those tickets and jump on the train to North Greenwich. Destination: The Emirates cable car. It’s been Teenager No 1’s desire to go on it for ages, so we made it happen. First,a mooch around the O2 arena and a pit stop at Starbucks. I had a coffee. The teens had what can only be described as creations… something frappucinno, whipped with cream, drizzle and an extra shot. I just pay and mutter things about no one buying a plain old coffee anymore *shrug*
Th cable car was fun, if a little strange in the city. The sight and sound of a cable car is forever Germany or Austria for me. Ski resorts and Summer trips to hike in the mountains. But it’s an inexpensive, a bit different and a quick way across the river. When I say quick, I mean it. You’ll likely queue as long as you ride, but the views are amazing.
The key to a happy family walk is knowing when to stop. Despite the many attractions of Greenwich calling- we seem destined to miss them, last visit was a flying one– getting back to the hotel for a rest before seemed the best plan. Just as well we did, we ended up out for the evening. More walking, more jumping on and off the tube, lots of laughing and a Nandos in Clink Street. Now there’s another bit of London I’d like to dive into.
I read an article about blogging that cautioned you should only publish posts that solve a problem for your readers. This post isn’t anything like that. It’s just a come-along-with-me while I get ridiculously excited about all the things and places. It’s nice to get excited about travel again though, isn’t it? When you think back to what we’ve been through the past few years. London still seemed quiet to me, but there’s a sense of hope. Things are getting better.
There’s a bit more London stuff coming and I hope you’ll stick around for it. One post in particular, I’d really love to muster some support for. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this romp through London as much as I did. Let’s chat in the comments about where you’ve been walking, your favourite bits of London and anywhere else in the city you’d recommend for me to check out.
If might also like to read The London Pub You Shouldn’t Miss and Liberty London.
Ever since I visited London for the first time in 1961, I had many an interesting walk in that city.
Thanks for taking me with you on a new one,
Thanks for coming along, I think you could find a new walk on every visit. London is a great city 😊
You’re welcome, and I agree: London has to offer so many walks.
you’re speaking my language, Helen. I have many a good London walk in many guide books but one splendid one is to follow the Regents canal along any of its length from Limehouse to Paddington. If you are interested I can send you links to posts i’ve done 9tryign hard to avoid being too pluggy here!). The best guide for the canal is The Regent’s Canal: An Urban Towpath Route from Little Venice to the Olympic Park by David Fathers (the ref to the QE park is because he also covers the Limehouse cut and the Hertford canal which link to the park).
Oh please do send links!
I will. If it’s easier to mail (rather than clog up comments) happy to. You can mail me at email@example.com if you like.
I did two walks last summer making a circle that I devised. The first started at St Pancras station heading west along the Regents Canal to Regents Park, south through Marylebone to Hyde Park, south through Green park and St James ending up by the Houses of Parliament (here: https://geofflepard.com/2021/06/24/wandering-curios-walks-london/). The second began in the park behind the Houses of Parliament and then, crossing Lambeth bridge, taking the south bank east to Tower bridge, crossing to the north bank and wiggling through Wapping to Limehouse and then joining the Regents canal back to St Pancras (here: https://geofflepard.com/2021/07/10/lambeth-to-st-pancras/). If these are the sort of thing that interests you I will offer up some more involving the Capital Ring which is a splendid invention for seeing all sort so parts of London just outside the very centre.
I’ve done this separately as too many links in a comment and it’ll end up in spam! This is a wiki explanation of the capital ring. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_Ring
I love to explore London. My train from Yorkshire comes inti Kings Cross, and I find the are surrounding the station very rewarding, from the British Library, to the canal and Coal Drops Yard, as far as Smithfield and the terraced housing in the area. But every area has its hidden treasures, as you have demonstrated.
Thanks Margaret, I think every corner of London has something to find. Hopefully I’ll get back and find a few more. I’ve seen a lot about Coal Drops Yard, quite fancy a look next time I’m in. Husband will be thrilled to come with me, Im sure 😂
If you want a coffee break, take lots of pocket money!
I can never tire of visiting London either. Glad you had a good trip and all enjoyed yourselves. I’ve not been in the Emirates Air Line yet but have seen it!
Thanks Marion, back in the normal day-to-day routines now with Me THL deployed so nice to have made some good memories in London. The cable car is fun , wouldn’t fancy it with the weather we are having at the moment though!
Would you believe we caught a plane to Germany yesterday. I was amazed we got away and were only two hours late taking off. Sitting by the windows we watched so many aborted landings at Stansted but luckily the wind direction changed a bit later and we could go.
Helen, that last picture is an absolute stunner. I love it and may try to lift and copy it for my desktop. Great to go along with you on your walk. I love London and have missed it every day since I left it 50 years ago! although I manage to return quite often – or did, until Covid. I love rambling around the Southwark area which I find so amospheric and then for a complete change I’ll take a bus to Oxford Street and into one of the streets that leads down towards Green Park, the really posh streets that aren’t on anyone’s radar, where the prices (where they are shown) of goods in the shop windows are astronomical – especially the bathroom fittings shops – love the gold taps, jewelled encrusted baths etc. I especially like the shops with maybe just a chair in the window, where you have to ring a bell to gain admittance. Now that’s class! the sort I haven’t got. Or maybe I have the class but just not the money!
I’m sure you have the class Mari, the funds are just a different matter. I’ll have to look up that area of London, I love a browse at the places the ‘other half’ live. Shops along the lines of, ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’. I like Southwark, too. I hope you make it back to London. The place is still quiet I think, compared to pre covid days but there’s a definite sense of hope.
I’ve just remembered rte name of the street with all the VERY expensive shops, it is North Audley Street and it is off the Oxford Street side almost opposite Selfridges. I’ll be back in London soon, I’m sure, but like a lot of people I seem to have changed my ways and I can’t get back to the old ways.
Ooh I’ll look that one up. I did spot something about a historic shopping arcade, i wonder if it’s down that way 🤔 I suspect I might fall down the rabbit hole here…
My stomping ground for 4 years when I was still a kid and could only afford to walk and look. Return visits since then have mostly been along the Regents Canal flight path and Camden with my daughter. Still a sucker for Greenwich, and one day I need to revisit Kew. It’s a grand city!
I’m hoping to make it to Kew this Spring, I’ll kick myself if I live this close and never get there!
And if it’s possible, approach from the river. Same for Greenwich really. I love being on the Thames, you can imagine life as lived centuries ago especially the section from Charing X to Greenwich, past The Tower.
I’ve never visited London, but now I’m thinking I must! That cable car ride looks like it’d be a blast! And I can get on board with the teens with their fancy coffees- they’re delicious 😉 Beautiful photos, thank you for taking me along!
If you get the chance to visit London, do it. It’s a fabulous city. In the meantime, I appreciate having your company virtually.
I’m a Londoner and love my city, so I always appreciate a post from someone else who loves it too! I don’t believe blog posts have to solve a problem; they can also inspire (e.g. travel ideas), provoke debate, pose questions (as you do here) or simply gladden the heart 🙂 As to future ideas, do find the time to explore Greenwich properly. And for an interesting walk, follow the Thames from Tower Bridge east towards Rotherhithe. There are some great views along the way, interesting memorials and at the end in Rotherhithe you can have a drink at the Mayflower pub from where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail and maybe visit the Sands Picture Library which is an intriguing place imho (https://www.sandsfilms.co.uk/rotherhithe-picture-research-library.html).
That’s the second nod I have had for Rotherhithe and the Mayflower, so I’m taking that as a sign! The teens have a long, long list of London neighbourhoods they’d like to explore so hopefully we’ll make it back soon.
We went twice to London and always visit by foot. It is a nice city to walk especially with all the parks ☺️.
Oh the London parks and gardens could be a whole series of posts within itself! Do you have a favourite London park? It’s Richmond Park every time for me.
I liked Hyde Park but I haven’t done a lot of them. I would like to see the kew botanical garden one day.
I can’t remember where I read it but I seem to recall an article about covering London using only the parks, i.e. from Regent through to Green park and then Hyde Park, but that doesn’t seem right now I think of it!
I love walking in London and one of my favourites is to arrive at Waterloo Station and walk along the South Bank, heading to Tower Bridge and beyond. There is always something interesting to see and do. I wrote about walking from Rotherhithe, taking in the Mayflower Pub and ending at the South Bank: https://fancyingfrance.com/2019/09/12/a-london-walk-rotherhithe-the-mayflower-and-more/
I can’t imagine that I’ll ever tire of walking in the capital!
That’s a really lovely walk, do-able for me as I also head into London via Clapham or Waterloo. It really is an amazing city.
Do let me know what you think of the walk if you can!
Waterloo along the South Bank is one of my favourites too.
I did this cable car ride too years ago! it was fun! I’m looking forward to your other London posts
Thanks Tanja! 😊
I hope I will visit London one day. Thank you for an inspirational article!
Thanks for stopping by, Olga. I hope you get to visit London. It’s a magical city.
Never has a truer word been spoken – “London is just like work. It expands to fill time”. That made me smile. Every time I visit, I come back with more things on my list to do there than I had when I went 🙂 Your walk looks lovely.
Thanks- and that’s exactly what I meant when I wrote that. We decided on ‘one last visit’ to London, but now have a list of places we’d like to get back for. I don’t think I’ll ever be quite done.