25. August 2009 16:34
What better way to get a feel for the city and its different areas than to simply wander the streets? Places are closer to each other in London than the tube would have you think. There are many books to guide you around particular sights, or more vigorous treks across the city and its parks. Here are just a few ideas…
Secret gardens: Discover London’s secret gardens and squares. There are dozens of squares to be found, often gated, and surrounded by impressive architecture, throughout the city. But there are also more informal community and wildlife gardens to be found sitting incongruously between – or even on top of – inner-city buildings.
Get into character: Trace the footsteps of famous literary figures such as Shakespeare, or Dickens; notorious characters such as The Krays or Jack the Ripper; or even fictional figures such as Sherlock Holmes.
Step back in time: Take yourself on a guided tour round the city’s significant monuments, sculptures, or sites of historical relevance, and really get a feel of London’s past and background.
Rock 'n' roll: Walk in your music idols’ footsteps at rock 'n' roll locations such as the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road studios on which The Beatles were famously photographed.
"That looks familiar...": Pick up a guide to filming or literary locations in the city and see where your favourite movies or books were set – from Oliver Twist to Notting Hill.
Underground London: Discover London’s hidden secrets, such as remnants of medieval times or its several disused Underground stations. See Underground London – Travels beneath the city streets.
The haunting: Get spooked and walk the cemeteries and ‘haunted’ spots of London – go at night for added atmosphere! Nunhead and Brompton cemeteries are two of the city's most spectacular, or should I say, spectral... See London's Dead and Walking Haunted London.
Cross that bridge when you come to it: See how many of London’s river bridges you can cross in a day. Some magnificent structures span the River Thames – from the iconic Tower Bridge to the illuminated Albert Bridge in Chelsea, they’ve all got fascinating histories, too. Plus, many of London's most impressive sights are beside the river, such as the Houses of Parliament, The Eye, Tate Modern, The Tower of London and HMS Belfast.
Blood and guts: Follow a walk round the city’s medical history, taking in its significant teaching hospitals and even the Old Operating Theatre, complete with operating tools and bodily parts on display.
Don't fall in: If you like being beside water, tackle the Thames Path, or just do shorter bits if you don’t fancy the whole stretch from the Thames Barrier in east London out into the Buckinghamshire Chilterns, and even on to its source in the Cotswolds. Or wander alongside the city’s canals – Regents Canal in Little Venice is particularly attractive, but the stretch in east London has been revamped and also makes a pleasant stroll. See Walking London's Docks, Rivers & Canals.
Dodge bomb sites: Walk round some sites damaged in the Blitz - the capital inevitably bore the brunt of the 1940 bombings. Today London may be a very different scene, but with the Walking the London Blitz book you can get a feel for those dreadful times and compare the scene with photographs of the buildings taken shortly before or after they were bombed out.
Spot the difference: Spot the different architectural styles of London’s churches – from Christopher Wren’s famed St Paul’s cathedral, to the medieval Westminster Abbey, and to James Gibbs’ 1722 US ‘colonial’ style St Martin-in-the-Fields, recently refurbished with a striking new East Window that has caused some debate.
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