“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson (The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D.Vol 3)
It is well known amongst my friends, that wherever I am in the world, I always return to London during the summer months. When this city begins to awaken from it’s wintery slumber, there is no place I would rather be. The feeling of walking down a leafy street with the gentle sunlight caressing my face is one of happiness in abundance. This is my favourite time of the year.
Whenever anyone mentions visiting, I always advice that they do so in summer. London is the most visited city in Europe and has a reputation for being one of the most expensive. There is, however, so much to do and see that costs nothing or very little and yet encapsulates everything that London is.
As I consistently say, walking is the best way to feel the rhythm of a new place. It offers a glimpse of every day life and often allows you to feel the pulse of a city.
One of my favourite walks in London begins at St.Paul’s Cathedral, along Fleet Street towards The Strand and rounds off along Victoria Embankment. So much history on a simple lunchtime walk, topped off with a spectacular stroll along the Thames. It doesn’t get any more “London” than this.
WHERE TO STOP
St. Paul’s Cathedral – This is a busy place at the best of times. In summer, people sit on the steps, chat with friends, eat lunch, eat ice cream and bask in the sunshine. There is a charge to enter the cathedral. It is absolutely worth getting to know it’s rich history. But it is not to say that you cannot simply enjoy this magnificent building from the outside. As with most places of worship, there is no photography allowed inside except on the observation deck. You can climb up to it’s dome for breath taking views across London.
The Temple Bar Memorial
From St. Paul’s it’s a straight walk down Fleet Street towards The Strand. The Temple Bar Memorial marks the boundary between the City of London and Westminster. The original boundary is mentioned as far back as 1293 (Wren’s Temple Bar). It was replaced with the current memorial (1880) with statues of Queen Victoria and The Prince of Wales who were the last monarchs to pass through the gates in 1872.
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The Law Courts Branch – Lloyd’s Bank
Less than two minutes walk past the Temple Bar Memorial is the spectacular Law Courts branch of Lloyds Bank. It was originally built as a restaurant in 1883. The restaurant failed and the building stood empty until 1895 when Lloyd’s Bank purchased it. It is tucked away unsuspectingly so make sure you don’t walk past it. Even before you consider the site’s great history, the interiors alone will leave you in awe.
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The Edgar Wallace
What would London be if it was not full of the most astonishingly beautiful pubs? Turn off along any of the streets off The Strand towards the river and you will find yourself spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink. The Edgar Wallace stands at the corner of Essex Street and Devereux Court. This is a particularly cosy pub, typical of traditional English pubs, complete with 8 hand pumps. It has a magnificent range of fine ales, perfect for a late afternoon in the sun.
Cut through Essex Street and walk down towards the banks of River Thames, namely, Victoria Embankment. Depending on where you turn off from The Strand, you may also walk across Victoria Embankment Gardens – a series of beautiful green spaces built in 1874 on reclaimed land. Finish off your walk along Victoria Embankment, one of the most beautiful and romantic walks in London. With views of The London Eye, Big Ben, the Oxo Tower and the ultimate icons of London – bright red phone boxes, it is the perfect way to end your tour.