London is a vast city with plenty to do for everyone! Being as big as it is, London has some wonderful walks that any visitor or city dweller can do on their own or with friends. Here is a list of the top 10 walks you can take when visiting the English Capital.
St James’s Park
St. James Park is the oldest Royal park in London. The area where St. James’s Park lies today was actually once the site of a lepers hospital for women. The history of this park goes way back to King Henry VIII buying the land from Eton College in 1532, and transforming the land into his own personal deer-hunting and duck-shooting ground. King James I even introduced various exotic animals to the park in 1603, such as crocodiles and even an elephant and a camel. In the 1820s, the park got an extreme home makeover. It was remodeled in the new naturalistic style. On a walk, a visitor can now stroll alongside a curving lake, winding path, and beautiful shrubberies all designed by landscaper John Nash in 1827. The work was commissioned by the Prince Regent, later George lV. It was part of a huge project that created many of London’s best-known landmarks, including Regent’s Park and Regent’s Street. The park you see today is still very much as Nash designed it and there have been only small changes since. Traffic was allowed to use The Mall in 1887, and the area outside Buckingham Palace was remodelled in 1906 to make space for the Victoria Memorial. What was once an elegant suspension bridge was built across the lake in 1857 and was replaced 100 years later by the concrete, and much safer structure we use today. An added bonus is that this park is centrally located in Westminster, and from certain parts of your stroll, Buckingham Palace is visible.
The Capital Ring Walk
The Capital Ring Walk is a circular “Walk London route”. While it covers almost 78 miles, the walk is conveniently split up into 15 sections so anyone can walk at their own pace. One particular point of interest on this walk is the Abney Road Cemetery. Abney was unique in being the first arboretum to be combined with a cemetery in Europe; offering an educational attraction that was originally set in a landscape of fields and woods, some distance from the built-up boundary of London. This sight is considered to be one of the “Magnificent 7” cemeteries in London, meaning that it is one of the biggest and most beautiful cemeteries in the English capital, that sprung up during the Victorian age.
The London Wall Walk
From around 200 AD, the shape of London was defined by one single structure; it’s massive city wall. From Tower Hill in the East to Blackfriars Station in the West, the wall stretched for two miles around the ancient City of London. In modern London, the layout is very different, but the remnants of its ancient past are still apparent. On an afternoon stroll, a walker should start at Tower Hill, and then travel north to Aldgate and Bishopsgate where parts of the wall still steadily stand. Following the layout of the old wall, travelers should head along the north, past Moorgate, Cripplegate and West Cripplegate. In this section, there are remains of an old Roman Fort, the wall ends South towards Newgate, Ludgate and Blackfriars, and a walker will conclude in modern London, having traveled in the footsteps of its ancient citizens.
The Thames path may seem a little self explanatory but it is anything but ordinary. On this path, a traveler can see the greatest river in England for 184 miles from its source in the Cotswold hills to the sea and all around London. While this path stretches 79.5 miles down one side, it is divided into four sections on both the North and South Bank. Being right alongside the Thames, it also passes by some of the greatest city landmarks such as Parliament, The Globe, The London Eye, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Thames Barrier, South Bank, Hampton Court Palace, Chiswick Pier, Albert Bridge, Erith Marshes and The Royal Docks. Travelers looking for a more laid back stroll may be interested in the Hampton Court to Albert Bridge stroll on the path. This long and winding walk will have you soaking up the Royal Palaces of Hampton and Kew, and give you the chance to enjoy an incredible view of the Thames floodplain below Richmond Hill.It’s a well sign posted route, with plenty of spots along the way for you to drink, shop, stop, or have a meal.
South Bank stroll
One of London’s most iconic walking routes is South Bank. Easily accessible and on pavement for those with ability concerns, this leisurely walk will take you past The Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern, and if any should peak your curiosity, you can easily pop in and out without ever leaving the paths route. Continuing along the river, you pass HMS Belfast, a Royal Navy battleship that served in the Second World War, and is now open to the public. After passing HMS Belfast, although you can continue along the river a short way, it’s better to head away from the river through Hay’s Galleria, a shopping arcade – you can’t miss it, it’s dominated by a vast vaguely-boat-shaped statue – onto Tooley Street, where there is a view of London Bridge.
East End Walk
Fancy a walk in the hippest part of town? Try the East End Walk. Start at the curious dog-shaped Aldgate Pump and discover Leadenhall Market and the ever trendy Brick Lane. This walk will also take you past old Spitafeilds market, one of the most historic shopping venues in London. There has been a market on the site since 1638 when King Charles I gave a licence for flesh, fowl and roots to be sold on Spittle Fields. After the rights to the market had seemingly lapsed during the time of the Commonwealth, the market was re-founded in 1682 by King Charles II in order to feed the burgeoning population of a new suburb of London. Now, the market is home to trendy clothes, artisanal foods, art and music. The East End walk will have something to entertain everyone in your group.
Westminster to Whitehall Walk
If you’re spending the day taking in the sights and sounds of historicWestminster, the Westminster and Whitehall Walk is easily accessible via any route in the area. Short by walking trail standards, this three mile walk takes you past some of London’s most famous tourist attractions including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Number 10 Downing Street. Make sure to plan your trip accordingly in order to catch the changing of the Guard outside of Buckingham Palace.
In contrast to the finely trimmed walks of central London, the enormous Hampstead Heath nature reserve offers a wild, untamed walking experience with great views across the city. This royal park has over 30 ponds, huge bright rhododendron bushes bursting with colour, and a vast variety of wildlife. Running along its eastern perimeter are a three open-air public swimming pools which were originally reservoirs for drinking water from the River Fleet. To the north east of the heath is a derelict site within the conservation area comprising the grounds and mansion of the former Caen Wood Towers.This historic building, currently in disrepair, was built in 1872 for Edward Brooke, aniline dye manufacturer. In 1942 the building was taken for war service by the Royal Air Force and was used to house the RAF Intelligence. Casually strollers can feel free to explore this building if they wish.
Beautiful Hampstead Heath is one of the biggest green areas in London – over 791 acres of woodland and meadows. So be sure to bring your walking shoes, and bug spray!
London’s City Tree Trail
On the theme of nature in a big city, the City Tree Walk is the perfect stroll for those looking for a little green while not wishing to leave London. A short walk, the trail is designed to take in eleven significant trees found within a two-mile route of St Paul’s Cathedral and also incorporates sites of historical importance such as the London City Wall, the Barbican, Smithfields Market, the Old Bailey, Cheapside, Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. This walk should take you roughly one hour, however if you are pushed for time, there is a shorter route of thirty minutes which can be followed on the map. There are plenty of parks and gardens along the way to sit and relax in, enjoy a picnic or have fun on the play equipment.
London’s City Tree Trail is described as a celebration of the diverse tree population and history of the Square Mile. It is also intended to highlight the importance of urban trees across the world and the need for people to continue planting and caring for them.
Jack The Ripper Walk
Founded on some of London’s more sordid history, visitors of London can recreate the murderous path of one of the city’s most infamous residents.
Between August and November 1888,the Whitechapel area of London was the scene of five brutal murders. The killer was dubbed ‘Jack the Ripper’. Although a murderer was never found, there has been much speculation as to the identity of the killer. It has been suggested that he or she was a doctor or butcher, based on the evidence of weapons and the mutilations that occurred, which showed a knowledge of human anatomy. Many theories have been put forward suggesting individuals who might be responsible. One theory links the murders with Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, also known as the Duke of Clarence, although the evidence for this is insubstantial.On this spooky walk, visitors will stroll through the dark and narrow streets of London’s famous Victorian East End and trace the footsteps and crime scenes of the murders Jack the Ripper committed. This walk is not for the faint hearted.
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