Walking in London
London is large. That inescapable fact aside, exploring London on foot is an option if you have the time (and energy) to spend. Strolling through green spaces such as Hyde Park or St. James Park makes for a welcome respite from rushing about on the tube or tour buses.
But parks aside, there are several options available if you are determined to get a very up-close and sore-footed feel for London.
The 20 km long Silver Jubilee Walkway is a recent addition to the city landscape. This self-guided walk starts in Leicester Square and meanders through the City to the South Bank, before ending up at Westminster. Along the way, small silver plaques show the way and provide useful information about the area and attractions. A map of the Walkway is available from the Britain Visitor Centre at Victoria Station for £1.50.
If you are a little less ambitious, the London Wall Walk covers 3km of the old Roman wall surrounding London. A leaflet is available from the London Museum (the Museum itself is quite close to exposed sections of the old Roman wall).
As you are walking about you will doubtless run across the famous London Blue Plaques. These plaques are put up on houses or landmarks associated with notable people. To be considered for a plaque the person must be dead for two decades or have been born over a century before.
The Canal and River Trust, the organization which oversees the operation of Britain network of canals and navigable rivers, has a free leaflet called "Explore London's Canals" outlining 6 walks along London's canal towpaths. Website: canalrivertrust.org.uk/
Quite a few companies specialize in leading groups on walking tours around small areas of London. Many of these walks have a particular theme, such as "Legal London", or the ever-popular "Jack the Ripper" walks around Whitechapel.
Joining a walking tour is quite simple. Most companies do not require pre-booking. They simply name a starting place and time, and if you want to join the walk you simply show up at the starting point at the right time and buy a ticket from the guide. Most of these tours offer quite good value for money.
Here are just a few of the companies offering walking tours throughout London:
Personalized Walking Tours
If you have the money to spare (£81 half-day/£121 full day) hire a Blue Badge Guide. These guides must pass a rigorous knowledge test after up to two years of study - they know their stuff. If you are travelling in a group and can split the cost of a Blue Badge Guide this may be a viable option. Details from the Association of Professional Tourist Guides website at www.guidelondon.org.uk/