A very happy hello to you and thanks for joining me on another expedition of London’s best sights and hidden gems. My walk today will explore more of London’s wonderful bridges, as I begin at Chiswick Bridge and take a stroll past Kew Railway Bridge and Kew Bridge. My journey will end in the picturesque and quaint Kew Green where I’ll watch a cricket match! It’s a short walk, but I’ll uncover a really beautiful part of the capital along the River Thames.
My first stop on my walk is Chiswick Bridge, which opened in 1933. Located in Mortlake, the reinforced concrete deck arch bridge was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and Alfred Dryland – with it being constructed by Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company.
The two villages of Chiswick and Mortlake, located either side of the north and south banks of the River Thames, had been linked by a ferry since the 17th century. However, in the 19th century with the arrival of the railway and London Underground, as well as increased ownership of cars, the populations of Chiswick and Mortlake grew rapidly.
This caused congestion problems, which led to the construction of the A316 road. The new road required two new bridges to be built at Twickenham and Chiswick. In addition, to Chiswick Bridge opening, Twickenham Bridge was built as well as the rebuilding of Hampton Court Bridge. After the construction of the bridges, this resulted in the ferry being closed permanently.
The bridge is 606 feet (185 m) long, and carries two 15-foot (4.6 m) wide walkways, and a 40-foot (12 m) wide road. At the time it was built, the 150-foot (46 m) central span was the longest concrete span over the Thames. One distinct and unusual feature of Chiswick Bridge is only three of its five arches span across the river, with the other two passing over the towpath. The bridge is also famous for being the finishing point in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.
I really love Chiswick Bridge’s concrete structure, which makes it look so grand and elegant. Like all the bridges I’ve discovered on my walks, it stands prominent along the Thames, with such splendour. The view from it isn’t too bad either with the natural beauty of trees and glorious greenery on both sides of the riverbank.
As you leave Chiswick Bridge you get to enjoy a wonderful walk under the trees along the riverside path.
Walking along the towpath takes you to the very unique Kew Railway Bridge. Opening in 1869, the five wrought iron lattice girder bridge was designed by W. R. Galbraith and built by Brassy & Ogilvie for the London and South Western Railway. The bridge was part of an extension of the railway from Acton Junction to Richmond.
Given Grade II listed structure protection in 1983, it carries London Overground trains between Richmond and Stratford, and District Line London Underground trains from Richmond and Upminster. It’s such a quirky bridge and one of the few in London which carries only trains, not cars or pedestrians. The colour of it blends in so well with the colour of the trees and water, which adds to its wonderful character.
I’ll now take a stroll along the lovely riverside onto the final of the three bridges on my journey, Kew Bridge.
The first bridge on the site was built by Robert Tunstall of Brentford who previously owned the ferry which was located on the river in Kew. This bridge was inaugurated on 1 June 1759 by the Prince of Wales and was opened to the public three days later. There was massive excitement for the opening of the new bridge with over 3,000 people crossing over it in its first day.
The original bridge was constructed with two stone arches at each end and seven timber arches in between, which was costly to maintain and consequently ‘only’ lasted 30 years. In 1782, the bridge gained consent to be replaced with a new structure which was designed by James Paine – opening on 22 September 1789.
By the 1890s the second bridge wasn’t able to cope with the weight of the traffic and engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry was invited to assess the bridge. He suggested to build a new bridge, rather than modify it. Designed by Sir John Wolfe-Berry and Cuthbert A. Brereton, the third bridge was opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 20 May 1903 – and this is the bridge we see today. The bridge has also inspired many artists who’ve painted or drawn it, including Paul Sandby, James Webb, Henry Muhrman, J.M.W. Turner and Myles Birket Foster.
Like with so many of London Bridge’s, the stone design makes it distinct and is quite similar to Chiswick Bridge. The view across the river of Kew is really breathtaking with beautiful trees either side and you can just about see Kew Railway Bridge in the distance too.
My final destination on my walk is Kew Green, which has to be one of my favourite destinations that I’ve visited on all my London expeditions. The 30 acre (12 hectare) triangular space has been a venue for cricket since the 1730s – with one of the earliest matches being played there between Kent and Brentford in June 1730. Kew Cricket Club was established in 1882 following the amalgamation of two local clubs – Kew Oxford Cricket Club and Kew Cambridge Cricket Club.
On the day I visited I was lucky enough to watch an actually cricket match, which was a friendly between Kew Cricket Club and Acton Cricket Club. When cricket is being played it’s so scenic and whenever you think of village cricket you certainly have this view in mind. It’s such a quintessentially and traditional British sight a game of cricket on a village green, something you’d see on a postcard. I do love the sound of a willow bat on ball, very soothing and pleasant. The beautiful pavilion on one side with the St Anne’s Church on the south side makes it very reminiscent of Richmond Green. Unlike Richmond Green, I have actually played on this green back in 2014 for a work cricket day for a friend – so it’s one cricket ground I’ve ticked off my list!
Well that’s all from me today, and I couldn’t think of a more perfectly pleasant way to end my walk than on the cute Kew Green basking in the sun watching cricket! Hope you’ve enjoyed joining me on this walk which has seen me explore another three of London’s bridges and one of its great little treasures.
Thanks for reading and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!
A warm Wlogger welcome to you and thanks for joining me on my next walking adventure of the capital! My expedition today will see me explore South-East London as I begin at Crystal Palace Park and explore its stadium, lakes, green areas… and dinosaurs! I’ll then take a detour to Sydenham Wells Park go through Sydenham Hill Wood and to Dulwich Wood. I’ll end my journey at Dulwich & Sydenham Golf Club, which might seem like an odd place to end a walk… but all will be revealed later on! So let’s discover some of the lesser-known natural sights of London!
Located in South-East London, Crystal Palace Park is a Victorian pleasure ground used for cultural and sporting events.
The park was built by Sir Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace Company between 1852 and 1854. It was created as the magnificent setting for the relocated and enlarged Crystal Palace structure, which had been designed for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park.
The area was designed to impress, educate, entertain and inspire, eventually becoming an international attraction with its educational themes for the park covering discovery and invention. The Crystal Palace was a large glass and iron structure that was situated on the Sydenham Ridge and provided stunning views across London with the palace viewable from many location across the city. One of the main aims of the park and palaces creation was to display Victorian grandeur and innovation, and was financed when people paid to visit it.
After the park was officially opened on the 10th June 1854 by Queen Victoria, a number of displays, events and sporting activities were introduced as a way to increase visitor numbers. To coincide with the 1911 Festival of the Empire, the park was transformed with a railway being installed and buildings to represent the Empire which would remain there up until the 1940s.
However, on the 30th November 1936 The Crystal Palace was destroyed in a fire, after musicians waiting to play a concert noticed smoke coming from the floorboards, which reportedly began in the women’s cloakroom and spread to the central transept. The fire quickly spread through the dry wooden boards and the nature of The Crystal Palace – a huge open space with no fire breaks – meant that within a short time the fire was wildly out of control. The flames rose to 800 feet in the air with London sending 61 pumps and 381 firefighters to help tackle the fire. The cause of the fire was never discovered, but theories have included old and faulty wiring as well as a discarded cigarette falling between the floorboards.
It would’ve been amazing to have seen The Crystal Palace in all its stunning glory, as it looked simply magnificent. You can imagine had it been around today, it would’ve attracted the same number of tourists that landmarks such as The London Eye, The Shard, Buckingham Palace and more do. Something our Instagram feeds would be full of!
After the fire the park began a period of decline. There were plans talked about to recreate the palace, although these never materialised. During the Second World War the park became a place for military vehicle dismantling and later a site for bomb damage rubble.
When you enter Crystal Palace Park, one of the first sights you see is its renowned and spectacular National Sports Centre. Opened in 1964, the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre was designed by the LCC Architects Department under Sir Leslie Martin between 1953-1954 and is a Grade II listed building. Over the years the stadium has hosted football, cricket, rugby, basketball, American Football, and even Motor Racing. The main sport to be hosted there today is athletics with a capacity of 15,500, and 24,000 with temporary seating.
The site of the athletics stadium is on the same land as a football ground which hosted the FA Cup Final from 1895 to 1914. The owners of the ground wanted their own football club to play at their own venue, so this lead to the formation of Crystal Palace F.C. The South Londoners were forced to leave the stadium in 1915 by the military, and as a result played at the ground they play at today, Selhurst Park. The largest attendance for a domestic match there was between Aston Villa and Sunderland in the 1913 FA Cup Final, when 121,919 spectators went there.
A short walk down a hill from the National Sports Centre, you come to the picturesque lake area with beautiful trees and plants.
One of the most iconic features of the park are the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs which are a collection of over 30 statues created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (1807-1894) around 1854. The array of statues also includes the first ever attempt anywhere in the world to model dinosaurs as full-scale, three-dimensional active creatures.
The set also includes models of other prehistoric creatures, including plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs discovered by Mary Anning in Lyme Regis, and a South American Megatherium brought back to Britain by Charles Darwin on his voyage on HMS Beagle.
Known as the Dinosaur Court, the models represent 15 genera of extinct animals, not all dinosaurs. They are from a wide range of geological ages, and include dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs mainly from the Mesozoic era, and some mammals from the more recent Cenozoic era.
The dinosaurs have been listed on the Historic Heritage List of England as Grade 1 monuments which is one of the highest and most important ratings. Many of the dinosaurs you see when you visit the National History Museum, the Oxford Museum of Natural History and other history museums in the UK are based on these specimens.
This was the first time I’d ever been to Crystal Palace Park and thus seen the dinosaurs, and they are incredible statues, and so critical to both the park’s identity as well as what they demonstrate for the world of natural history and science. One thing I’ve also thought is that it was very random having these in a London park, but knowing the story behind them makes sense!
Surrounded by the dinosaurs and as you weave your way around the park, there are some really lovely trees and woods, as well as a lake. Like with many of the parks I’ve explored across London, this one is full of splendour and tranquility.
I’ll now take a walk outside the lake area and walk across the park where once again you stroll through all the prettiness of the park which illustrates what a vast area of marvellous sights it is.
A distinctive part of the park you always see no matter where you stand and which can be seen from many vantage points in the capital is The Crystal Palace Transmitter tower which is a broadcasting and telecommunications station that serves Greater London and the Home Counties. Built in 1956, it’s the 5th tallest structure in London standing at 219 metres (719 ft). In terms of coverage it’s the most important transmitting station in the country, with nearly 12 million people receiving output from it.
I’ll now leave the park and head to my next destination today, Sydenham Wells Park! This cute little green area is named after the medicinal springs which were found in Sydenham in the 17th Century, when Sydenham was still in Kent. In 1901 the park was opened to the public and is one of nine parks in the borough to have a Green flag award, which is the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the UK.
The park is right near many houses and you do get that community feel that this park is at the centre point of the area which is popular with families and people looking for a place to relax with their thoughts.
My journey will now take me from Sydenham Wells Park onto both Sydenham Hill Wood and Dulwich Wood, which are located right next to one another. Together they are the largest part of the old Great North Wood, which was an ancient landscape of woodland and wooded commons which once covered the high ground between Deptford and Selhurst
With both of the woods adjacent to one another, I first visited Sydenham Hill Wood which is designated as a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. In 1732 an oak-lined formal avenue, known as the Cox’s Walk, which leads from the junction of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane was formed by Francis Cox. It connected his Green Man Tavern and Dulwich Wells with Sydenham Wells Park.
The old Nunhead to Crystal Palace railway once passed through the wood and you can tell where part of the line used to be, especially the footbridge which goes over the woods and used to have the tracks underneath it.
The woodland is home to more than 200 species of trees and plants, as well as rare fungi, butterflies, scarce bees, woodpeckers, wasps, stag beetles, other insects, hedgehogs, birds and woodland mammals.
Walking through the woodlands reminds me a lot of my walk through Highgate Wood as you feel like you’re nowhere near London’s hustle and bustle. It’s a very magical place to explore as with every corner of the woods you find something new which amazes and pleasantly surprises you, whether it’s a pretty species of tree, or a cute stairway, there’s an abundance of beauty.
Right next to Sydenham Hill Wood is Dulwich Wood, which is privately owned by the Dulwich Estate. Back in the Middle Ages, the Manor of Dulwich belonged to Bermondsey Abbey having been given to the Abbey in 1127 by King Henry I. The Dulwich Estate was surveyed in 1542 after Henry VII dissolved the monasteries. The wealthy Edward Alleyn in 1605 bought the Manor of Dulwich from the Calton family who had owned it since the dissolving of the monasteries.
Weaving your way between the trees and plants adds quite a bit of mystery when you walk through the woods, which is quite small, though there are many different pathways you could take, each taking you to a different woodland wonder.
Once you come out of Dulwich Wood, you’re able to get a glimpse of the London skyline, but to truly appreciate and see it, you need to take a stroll to the neighbouring Dulwich & Sydenham Hill Golf Club. A walk to the top of the balcony of the clubhouse provides a breathtaking panoramic view of London!
From across the golf course you get to see all the well-known and iconic London skyline landmarks including The Shard, The London Eye, Canary Wharf, The Walkie Talkie, The Gherkin, St Paul’s and more. One amazing aspect of my walks is that I’ve seen this exact same view of the London skyline from so many different perspectives, from Stave Hill, to Alexander Palace, to Hampstead Heath, and it’s always awe-inspiring and glorious. It really is a fitting and perfect place to end my walking adventure today!
Well that’s all from me on my walking adventure which has seen me discover some of the natural gems of South-East London from Crystal Palace Park, to Sydenham Wells Park and Sydenham Hill Wood, to Dulwich Wood, with the stunning London skyline view to finish with!
Thanks for joining me and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!
Hello there! Thanks for joining me on my next outdoor adventure as I explore the best walks of the capital. Today’s stroll begins in Highgate’s Waterlow Park, takes me past the Highgate Cemetery and onto the woodland wonders of Highgate Wood. I’ll take a detour up to the renowned Alexandra Palace and finish the walk at Finsbury Park. So let’s get going!
I do love it when my walks start with a picturesque entrance and Waterlow Park in Highgate provides just this, with a very welcoming park gate which says to me ‘Come on in’.
The park’s history dates back to the 16th century where the area was known for its affluent residents, many of whom built homes and fine gardens, some of which are now within Waterlow Park. One of the attractions to the residents was that the air was cleaner than other parts of London.
A walk through the park illustrates just how peaceful it is and that with every turn there’s something of glorious green to see!
You’ll never struggle to find a spot to sit, or to grab a photo of the park.
Another one of the attractions of people moving to Highgate in the 16th Century was the plentiful water supply from the park’s three historic ponds which are still fed by natural springs. I always think a park isn’t complete without a pond or a lake, there’s something very satisfying about hearing the trickling of water in a tranquil park setting.
At the head of the park and sitting grandly on the top of the hill is Lauderdale House which was the home of the Earl of Lauderdale in the 17th Century. The house today is a delightful cafe where you can stop for a spot of tea or light lunch, with a view overlooking the glorious grounds of the park. The garden area of the house is commonly noted as one of the very early examples of terraced gardens in Britain. It really doesn’t feel like a park, more that you’ve wandered into someone’s estate and garden!
During the 17th Century there was a home within the park for the poet Andrew Marvell where a bronze plaque within the park dedicated to him stands. Another resident in the park was prolific architect and park designer Sir James Pennethorne who unsurprisingly helped with designing some of the elements of the park.
From 1856 English philanthropist and Liberal Party politician Sydney Waterlow lived within the park and soon acquired the neighboring properties to create his own mini-estate, with Lauderdale House being let out as Convalescent homes for medical professionals.
However, Sydney Waterlow didn’t stay long at the estate and it remained empty and deteriorated for a number years until he presented it to the London County Council in 1889 and it was termed as ‘a garden for the gardenless’. So if you didn’t have a garden, you could enjoy it as your very own one. The council named it after Sydney and ensured that all the historic features within it remained.
It’s time to leave Waterlow Park and as a you head out you take a stroll past Highgate Cemetery. Established in 1839, the cemetery is split into the West and East Cemeteries with approximately 170,000 people buried in and around the 53,000 graves.
Spanning 15 hectares (37 acres) in size, the cemetery was acquired by The Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust in 1975 with them acquiring the freehold to both the East and West Cemeteries by 1981.
Some of the notable people within the East Cemetery include the tomb of Karl Marx, the ashes of the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, William Foyle (co-founder of book store Foyles), Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton, 1st Baronet (Scottish physician known for his work in the treatment of angina pectoris), Patrick Caulfield (painter and printmaker known for his pop art canvasses) and Roger Lloyd-Pack (British actor).
Within the West Cemetery notable people buried there include Julius Beer (Owner of the UK newspaper The Observer), James Bunstone Bunning (City Architect to the City of London), Charles Cruft (founder of Crufts dog show), the parents, wife and brother of Charles Dickens, Lucian Freud (painter, grandson of Sigmund Freud, and elder brother of Clement Freud), Bob Hoskins (actor), George Michael (singer), and Jean Simmons (actress).
Additionally, there are the graves of 318 Commonwealth service personnel with 259 from the First World War and 59 from the Second.
It’s now time to move on to my next stop on today’s walk, Highgate Wood! To do so I get to walk through Highgate and experience what a pleasant area it is, with it having a real village feel about it. With cute little houses, village greens and not a great deal of traffic, you forget you’re still in London!
Now this is one true hidden gem of London that I’m about to explore! Lying between East Finchley, Highgate Village and Muswell Hill, Highgate Wood is a 28 hectare (70 acre) ancient woodland.
Highgate Wood appears within the Ordnance Survey map of Middlesex in 1886 which illustrates the area’s illustrious history. Predominately an oak, hornbeam and holly wood, there are more than 50 tree and shrub species within the woodlands. The wood is also home to the rare deciduous tree with brown berries, known as The Wild Service Tree or the Sorbus torminalis.
The woods aren’t just home to trees and plants, but 71 different species of bird have been recorded there, as well as foxes, grey squirrels, seven species of bats, 180 species of moth, 12 species of butterfly and 80 species of spider!
There have also been prehistoric flints found within the wood with excavations from Romano-Britons found which indicated that pottery materials were produced from local materials between AD 50-100.
The wood hasn’t always been well maintained or looked after with The City of London Corporation’s not being sympathetic to the historical origins. After they acquired it asphalt paths were laid, ornamental trees planted and dead wood removed and burned, with it being managed as more of an urban park than an ancient woodland.
In 1968 the Conversation Committee of the London Natural History Society became concerned after the planting of exotic conifers which were seen as inappropriate for an ancient woodland. Consequently, this type of planting programme was halted and hasn’t been used since.
Since then the management of the woodland has been more considered with little human interference. It’s listed as one of only eight Green Heritage Sites in London and is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conversation. The woodland is currently a registered charity managed and funded by the City of London.
Walking through the woodland it does remind me of the Children’s rhyme a ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ as it has that fairytale and adventurous feel you’d find in a storybook. With loads of campfires and logs for sitting on across the park, it really is a wonderful place for children to explore and to be introduced to the wonders of nature. It’s very easy to get lost within all the amazing trees and when you look up & across all you see is leaves and branches, something you don’t get to enjoy that much everyday. For as far as you can see, there’s nothing but the glorious woods and every time you take a stroll around it there’s something new and enlightening.
Having already discovered the breathtaking Russia Dock Woodland, Highgate Wood is certainly up there with it!
The wood isn’t just trees and plants, but a walk to the end of it takes you to a large open green field used for football and cricket.
As much as I’d love to spend all day in the woodland, I’m now going to head off to a place which gives you a truly wonderful view of London, Alexandra Palace.
Known as ‘Ally Pally’, the palace was designed by Owen Jones, John Johnson and Alfred Meeson, and first opened in 1873 on Queen Victoria’s 54th birthday. The spectacular celebration for the opening included concerts, recitals and fireworks. However, just 16 days later a fire broke out in the Palace destroying the structure.
It wasn’t until two years later in 1875 that the new Alexandra Palace was opened to the public with it containing the new Henry Wills organ, one of the largest in Europe at the time. The palace also has the honour of having marksmen from the Alexandra Palace Rifle Society representing Great Britain in the 1908 Olympics where they won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.
During the First World War the palace was used as a Belgian refugee camp and later as a German and Austrian internment camp.
One of the most significant events occurred on the 2nd November 1936 when the world’s first regular high-definition public television broadcast took place from the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace. A blue plaque is present to commemorate this and the TV mast is still there today. 1936 also saw the park become free for the public to use as a result of the 1900 Alexandra Park and Palace Act.
During the Second World War the palace was once again used by Belgian refugees with the transmitter tower being used as a decoy for enemy aircrafts.
The palace’s grounds were the home to horse racing until the racecourse was closed in 1970. In 1980, for the second time, a fire broke out across the palace burning a large part of the building. Substantial restoration began after the fire and it was reopened in 1988.
The palace was recognised in 1996 as a building of special architecture and historic significance with it receiving a Grade II listing. The venue has hosted a wide range of events including numerous concerts, Master Snooker, the World Darts Championship, Antiques Fairs, beer festivals, award ceremonies and a firework display every Bonfire Night.
One of the most prominent aspects of the palace and one that I thoroughly enjoyed is the stunning view you get of the capital from it. It’s such an awe-inspiring view across London of some of its most well-known landmarks, and great to experience them from another angle on my walks, having seen them on Hampstead Heath as well as Stave Hill! It always amazes me just how much you can from just one area of the capital and perfectly demonstrates that all of London’s landmarks are in such close proximity to one another!
Behind the palace is a pretty little lake and cafe, so it you require a bit of down-time and relaxation, it’s ideal for just that!
I’m now going to begin a stroll to my final destination on this walk, Finsbury Park by heading down the hills on Alexandra Palace!
Once I’ve left there I walk down Priory Road through the quaint Priory Park.
The walk takes you along the road past the houses and Finsbury Park station until you get to the gates of the park.
Opened in 1869, the 46 hectares (110 acres) park was designed by Frederick Manable. Based in Harringay, it was one of the first of the great London parks laid out in the Victorian Era. The park was originally landscaped as a woodland area in the Manor of Brownswood and part of the woodland called Hornsey Wood which was cut back to be used as a grazing land in the Middle Ages.
In the 18th Century a tea room was opened where Londoners could enjoy the woodlands. These tea rooms were developed into larger buildings known as the Hornsey Wood House (Tavern). The area was also home to boating, shooting and archery, before the tavern was demolished in order to make the area into a park. Once the park opened, the pub across the park along the Seven Sisters Road called itself the Hornsey Wood Tavern after its original one! However, the tavern would close in 2007 with the area being developed.
In the 19th century Londoners began to demand more open green space, something which had become even more common in Paris. To counteract the increasingly urbanisation of London, in 1841 the people of Finsbury petitioned for a park to be developed to help eradicate the poor conditions in the city. The first plans for the park were drawn up in 1850 with its name originally being called Albert Park. However, it was renamed Finsbury Park and opened in 1869.
The park played a role in both the First and Second World Wars with it being the location for pacifist meetings in WWI, and used as military training grounds and hosting anti-aircraft guns in WWII.
Through the 1980s the park went into a decline and when its owner, the Greater London Council was wound up, Haringey Council took over the ownership of it. Luckily in 2003 the park was awarded £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund which helped with significant renovations to improve its facilities to enable the park we see today. The park is commonly known as the ‘People’s Park’ due to its strong community feel.
Well that’s all for this week’s walk of the capital which has seen us take a trip through Highgate’s park and woodlands, the spectacular architecture and views of Alexandra Palace, and the fabulous Finsbury Park.
Thanks for coming along on my walk and in the meantime you can catch me on Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too and have a read of my other walks! 🙂
Welcome one and all to another walk across London! This week I’ll be visiting the exclusive and wealthy side of the capital, as my journey begins in Grosvenor Gardens. From there I go via upmarket Belgravia to Sloane Square before finishing at one of the world’s most famous department stores, Harrods in Knightsbridge. So let’s grab the walking boots and go!
My walk starts in Upper Grosvenor Gardens which has only been open to the public recently, and with its plants and benches is the perfect place to relax. The name Grosvenor derives from the Grosvenor family who were landowners in the area.
One of the distinctive features within the garden is a sculpture of a Lioness chasing a Lesser Kudu. It was created by the famous animal sculptor Jonathan Kenworthy, and has been there since 2000 to mark the opening of the gardens to the people of Westminster. It certainly is an eye-catching aspect of the gardens which you don’t miss!
At one of the entrances also stands this war memorial with poppy wreaths laid in remembrance.
Whenever you’re in a garden you normally only take in the plants, grass area and sculptures, however, the outer fencing has this really unique and stylish design!
It’s time to move onto my next location on today’s walk as I head for affluent Belgravia and Eaton Square. Now if you thought living in London was expensive, you’ve not seen anything yet! In December Eaton Square was given the honour of being the most expensive place to buy a home in the UK. The average home in this area costs a staggering £17 million! Some properties in the area have been on the market for as much as over £50 million! Looking at the size of the houses you can see why!
Opposite the houses sits some beautiful gardens too, which are private to the residents of the mansions!
I must say walking through all these expensive and fancy mansions is actually quite fun to get a glimpse of the high life! Though I’ll never be able to afford them, or you never know if this blog takes off and makes me a millionaire I might…. but for now strolling past them will have to do!
I leave the well-heeled Belgravia mansions to go onto my next stop, Sloane Square! Located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the square used to be called ‘Hans Town’ after Sir Hans Sloane whose estates owned the land at the time. The square was laid out in 1771 by architects Henry Holland Snr and Henry Holland Jnr.
Within the square sits The Venus Fountain which was sculptured in 1953 by Gilbert Ledward. The life-sized bronze Venus is seen kneeling on top of a large vase whilst pouring water into a pool lined with light blue ceramic tiles. The Venus is sitting on a relief of King Charles II and his mistress, Nell Gywnn.
At the opposite end of The Venus Fountain you find a Royal Naval Air Service memorial which again has poppy wreaths laid out on it in remembrance.
Next to Sloane Square you’ll find the picturesque Parish Church of Holy Trinity Sloane Square which is an Anglican parish church built between 1888-1890, and designed by architect John Dando Sedding.
A walk along Sloane Street takes you to one of London’s secret hidden gems at Cadogan Place Gardens. Once known as the London Botanic Gardens, they were laid out at the end of the 18th century by William Sailsbury. Walking through the gardens feels like you’re in one of London’s Royal Parks or the countryside, not a small pretty garden near Knightsbridge. Within the gardens sits lawns, plants, hedges and sculptures, everything you’d expect from a beautiful garden! The more you walk through it, you discover lots of picturesque surprises!
It’s time to move onto my final location in Knightsbridge, Harrods. To get there I pass many high-end brands from Gucci to Chanel and many other brands I don’t normally buy from!
One of Knightsbridge’s most recognisable stores is Harrods which was founded in 1834 by Charles Henry Harrod. The store is 20,000 m2 with 330 departments that covers 90,000 m2 of retail space. Harrods’ motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique, which means “all things for all people, everywhere” in Latin! From clothing to electronics to jewellery to toys to furniture, it’s all there for you! I do love the distinctive green colouring of the branding and with its unique products makes it a huge tourist hot spot!
My walk has taken me through some of London’s richest and most exclusive areas, whether it’s the mansions of Belgravia to the gardens near Knightsbridge, it has been a trip through the capital’s upmarket side! Hope you’ve enjoyed reading my walk, and you can catch me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too!
Until next time, have a great week, and see you soon!
A few days ago I surpassed the dizzy heights of 1,000 subscribers! A MASSIVE thank you to everyone that follows my blog! So this week I’m doing something a little different and looking back on all of my previous walks over the past three months. Also I’m going to provide some useful insights behind my walks that you might not normally get to know from each of my routes!
My walks have taken me to the parks, markets, squares, streets, bridges, and riverside views, whilst uncovering the capital’s true hidden gems! Here’s quick recap of them all!
My first walk visited some of the capital’s famous parks and palaces! My journey started at Victoria Station before heading to Buckingham Palace via St James’s Park and The Mall. I ended up at London’s smallest Royal Park, Green Park! Discover more of the journey and the history of these sights here – Victoria to Green Park.
When I walked from Marble Arch to Mayfair I discovered some of London’s famous streets, namely Oxford Street, Regent’s Street and New Bond Street! Through the streets you come across two beautiful squares, Cavendish Square and Berkeley Square. A finish in the retro Shepherd Market in Mayfair is the perfect place to end a walk! Check out the full walk here – Marble Arch to Mayfair.
Even though when you walk from The Shard to Monument it’s a short stroll, but you do see a lot! Going from The Shard takes you past Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral over London Bridge before you end at Monument! Fancy finding out more about each of their histories? Read the walk here – The Shard to Monument.
I’d have to say that one of my favourite walks I’ve done over the past few months is that of King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath! This is because it encompasses one of the loveliest walks along the Regent’s Canal and the wonderful view from Hampstead Heath across London. In between that you see many of London’s canal locks, including Camden Market, as well as hidden gems like the St Pancras Basin and Gas Holder No. 8! Perhaps my longest walk, but it’s definitely full of amazing sights! Check out all of them here – King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath.
If you want to see a mix of London’s renowned markets and modern day landmarks, then this is the walk for you! Beginning at the pretty Leadenhall Market you can take a wander past two iconic buildings of the London skyline, The Gherkin and The Cheese Grater, before going via London Liverpool Street Station. The markets keep coming as you go past both Petticoat Market and Old Spitalfields Market. See more of the walks wonders here – Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market.
A good walk in London has to begin somewhere and this one began at Waterloo, Britain’s busiest train station and ended at The London Eye, Britain’s busiest tourist attraction! The trip will take you to the distinctive bridges along the Thames, Waterloo Bridge, the Golden Jubilee Bridge and the Hungerford Bridge! All of the sights on my walk have their own fascinating tales, which you can find out more about here – Waterloo to The London Eye.
Golden Jubilee Bridge either side of Hungerford Bridge
You don’t have to walk through a park or along the river to enjoy a great stroll in London! This walk explored the city centre perfectly by starting at the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral and going via Bank to The Royal Exchange, Mansion House and the Bank of England before finishing in Finsbury Circus in Moorgate! Explore its sights here – St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate.
Now as I mentioned earlier, I do love the Regent’s Canal and this walk once again illustrates London’s beauty perfectly! Beginning at the redeveloped Mile End Park you take a stroll along the canal via the stunning Victoria Park before finishing in the peaceful London Fields. Some great pics and history here – Mile End Park to London Fields
For my next walk I had the pleasure to see some of the capital’s watery wonders and amazing arches! I started my route at the Wellington Arch via Hyde Park and The Serpentine before passing by Henry Moore’s arch, and finishing in the ever so pretty Italian Gardens! If you enjoy gardens and water features, this is the one for you – Hyde Park Corner to Italian Gardens.
London isn’t just famous for its tourist hot spots, there are many notable landmarks from the sporting and musical worlds! This walk featured two of them! Lord’s Cricket Ground and Abbey Road. But in addition to them, I walked through one of the cutest places in London, Little Venice and to two famous religious monuments, The Liberal Jewish Synagogue and St John’s Wood Church. A walk for those who enjoy cricket, music and pretty riverside walks – Little Venice to Abbey Road.
The Royal Parks of London are green areas of tranquility and beauty, and this walk started at one of the most picturesque places, Regent’s Park. After taking in its splendour I ventured via a London skyline icon in the BT Tower before finishing in the hidden Soho Square! A perfect short stroll – Regent’s Park to Soho Square
My most recent walk explored the ponds and parks of the south of London where I began at Clapham Common went via Battersea Park before ending at the splendid view on The Albert Bridge. One of London’s unknown walks, but it’s ever so wonderful – Clapham Common to The Albert Bridge
Mount Pond in Clapham Common
The Albert Bridge
Well my twelve walks have certainly covered some distance in London, and explored so much beauty. Which one of them was your favourite? How many of them have you done? Please let me know in the comments section!
Insight into The London Wlogger
Now in the form of a Q&A, I’m going to give you all a bit more info on the inspiration behind the London Wlogger and some useful facts about it!
Do you do all your walks in one go? Or several trips?
One thing I found out was when I’m taking pics, notes, and trying to concentrate on all the different wonders of London I pass, it takes some time! So I can’t do all the walks in one day unfortunately! Also so far all the walks are being done during the autumn and winter, so I have to make sure I finish by sunset… not an easy task!
How long in advance do you do the walks before writing about them?
Now this is a bit of a secret behind the London Wlogger! But I do many walks in advance as I try to stay ahead of myself, so if we do have many weeks of bad weather, I might not be able to get out there and walk. So to avoid this I would’ve done a few walks before I post about them. For instance, as we speak, I’ve already completed and got pics for four week’s worth of posts!
Have you considered doing separate walks that are all connected into one?
I did! There are a few reasons why each week the routes are random, and not in the same area. Firstly, it keeps the audience guessing where the next route will be, one week I’m in Victoria, the next in Hampstead, quite the difference in distance!
Secondly, as all the walks are done in separate trips, it would mean I would have to start from a certain point each time. For instance, if my walk finished at Green Park, the next time I do a walk I would need to start from there.
Lastly, the best way to see London is to not restrict yourself to certain areas, but spread it out, which I hope makes a better series!
What’s your favourite place in London?
Oooo it has to be along the Regent’s Canal, and my favourite view is from Hampstead Heath!
How do you plan each route?
Many of the walks I do are ones that I’ve done many times, or discovered by just walking around London with no plan in place. However, as time has gone on, I’ve planned out routes based on a few factors. Firstly, what there is to see on it, such as landmarks, historical places, or natural beauty. Also how close each area is in proximity to each other, for instance, a walk from Bank to Camden is lovely, but a bit long for a short blog post! Finally, I try to spread out as much of London as possible, so I won’t stay in just Central, but go as far as the outskirts.
Where did the word ‘Wlogger’ come from?
One day I hope this features in the Oxford Dictionary! But the word ‘Wlogger’ is a play on ‘Walking Blogger = Wlogger’! Catchy and clever, but hard to say, think of Vlogger with a W!
What camera to use? Do you take all the pics?
I’d love to say some swanky, expensive camera brand… but it’s my little old iPhone 6s! And yep, the majority of the pics are taken by me, the only ones which aren’t would be inside areas I can’t access such as The Royal Festival Hall and a skyline view of a landmark like The Cheese Grater. All photos not taken by me are credited, but the majority are taken me!
Ever thought of going outside London?
Of course, who knows! I’d love to do more walks in Britain and perhaps further afield, watch this space…
Still want to ask me something? Write me a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a review of all my walks, and gaining a little bit more of an insight into the London Wlogger!
I’ll be back walking again next week, but in the meantime you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too!
A warm welcome to you, and thanks for joining me on another walk around London! Throughout my walks of the capital I’ve explored many parks, and today I shall be exploring two of South London’s most wonderful natural spaces. My walk begins in Clapham Common takes me via Battersea Park before ending along the Thames at the splendid Albert Bridge.
I’ll admit I’d never actually been to either Clapham Common or Battersea Park before this walk, so for me it was even more exciting to do!
My journey starts in Clapham Common which dates back to the late 17th century when the recreational area was used for horse racing and cricket. It wasn’t until the 1760s when a wealthy local resident by the name of Christopher Baldwin led an initiative to improve the Common by leveling it off and filling in its ditches and planting trees.
During the 19th century the Common was managed by a group of local trustees who continued to level it out and plant trees. As late as the 1920s sheep were still grazing on the Common, though it was now becoming a well-known area of leisure for people within the suburb which was growing both in size and wealth.
However, in the 1860s Commons in London were at risk of being sold to developers as new legislation meant they could be purchased for the benefits of the public. In 1877, the Metropolitan Board of Works bought Clapham Common from its Manorial Owners with its aim to be ‘free and unenclosed forever’!
Both the board and its successor, the London County Council, continued to make improvements to it and in 1890 they responded to public demand to build one of the largest and best surviving Victorian bandstands in the country.
During the First World War troops would be trained in digging trenches on the Common. Whilst in the Second World War the site was used for big events and housed an anti-aircraft battery, with bomb shelters being dug within it.
Sports facilities and entertainments continued on the Common after the War with the London County Council and its successor, the Greater London Council, making improvements to it. The Common was the venue for the International London Horse Show from 1954 to 1985. However, by the 1990s local residents became unhappy with the large scale concerts and other events which they thought were unsuited and damaging the local recreational space. Since 1971, the Common has been owned and managed by the London Borough of Lambeth.
Today, it’s 220 acres of wonderful grass areas, the lovely Mount Pond, many football pitches, and is one of London’s most famous Commons. I did love standing by the pond, with all you can hear is the sound of the birds and the wind, truly the definition of peaceful!
Opposite the Bandstand you’ll find the very popular and convenient La Baita, which in Italian means ‘the hut’. This cafe serves authentic Italian cuisine with sandwiches and drinks offered too. The perfect way to sit there and enjoy the Common on a sunny day.
Outside Clapham Common you’ll find the pretty St. Barnabas Church which was erected in 1897.
It’s now time to continue my walk through Clapham Common and along the main road to Battersea Park.
Along my walk I go past Battersea Park train station, and this rather vintage railway bridge!
Back in 1843 property developer Thomas Cubitt and the local vicar, the Honourable Reverend Robert Eden, reported to Queen Victoria’s Commison on improving the Metropolis. In 1846 an Act of Parliament was passed which gave to the authorisation of a formation of a park on part of Battersea Common and Battersea Fields.
A year before in 1845 architect James Pennethorne produced a preliminary layout of the park, but it wasn’t until 1854 when the main developments of the park took place. The park was formally opened to the public by Queen Victoria in 1858.
Like with Clapham Common, the park was used during the First World War. Allotments were laid out in the park, an anti-aircraft station was set up on the croquet field, and a clothing depot was installed on one of the cricket fields. The park was also used during World War Two for an allotment, a piggery, an experimental radio station, and the running track became an anti-aircraft gun site. Today, the 200 acre park is managed by Wandsworth Council.
It’s not just Clapham Common that has a beautiful and picturesque pond, as Battersea Park has this amazing one too!
Every pond should have somewhere to enjoy its splendour, and next to it you can relax in this riverside cafe!
It’s only when you walk through the park that you find out how vast it is! Also the hidden gems within it keep appearing with more ponds and pathways filled with trees.
Near the northern side of the park sits the Festival Gardens that were designed by Russell Page. In 1951 they were transformed into the ‘Pleasure Gardens’ as part of the Festival of Britain which celebrated the British industry, arts and science to promote the feeling of recovery after the World War.
The event was intended to be a one-off year exhibition, but the fun fair remained there as a permanent attraction until it closed in 1974.
One of the eye-catching features within the park is this cool metal structure!
At the end of Festival Gardens you find the distinctive and rather amazing structure of the Peace Pagoda. Regular London Wlogger readers will remember another Pagoda appearing in Victoria Park in one of my previous walks!
The construction of the Peace Pagoda actually relates to the unlikely town of Milton Keynes in the UK. Back in 1978, the Reverend Gyoro Nagase arrived in England from Japan to assist with the construction of the first Peace Pagoda in the UK in Milton Keynes. Now you might think, it’s very random for a famous Japanese religious monument to be in Milton Keynes, but there is logic behind it! Back in the seventies when the new town of Milton Keynes was being developed, one of the planning advisers had visited Sri Lanka where he saw a Peace Pagoda. It was proposed to the Milton Keynes Development Corporation who loved the idea, and it remains there today.
In 1984, Reverend Gyoro Nagase moved to London to assist with 50 volunteers and Buddhist monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order to construct the Peace Pagoda in the park, and its amazing structure was completed in 1985.
To get to my final destination today I need to take a walk along the side of the Thames, and the view across it is simply stunning from the Peace Pagoda. You can tell I enjoyed taking videos on this walk!
A famous place for morning joggers and dog walkers, I walk along the side of the river to reach The Albert Bridge!
Located over the River Thames connecting Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south bank, the Albert Bridge was designed and built by Rowland Mason Ordish in 1873. However, it proved to be structurally unsound, so between 1884 and 1887 Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated design elements of a suspension bridge to it.
Two concrete piers were added to it to further strengthen it in 1973, which means today the bridge is an odd hybrid of three different design styles! For six years after it was opened it became a toll bridge, though this was unsuccessful and the charge was lifted.
The bridge was given the nickname of ‘The Trembling Lady’ as it had the tenancy to vibrate when large numbers of people walked across it. The entrance sign to warn troops from the nearby Chelsea Barracks is still there today.
Today, there are still traffic control limits over it to prolong its life, making it the least busy of London’s bridges. The bold colouring of the bridge was painted on it in 1992 to make it more visible for ships, and I think you’d find it hard to miss it! At night the bridge is illuminated with 4,000 bulbs, and with Grade II listed status it’s one of the capital’s riverside icons.
The view from it you can imagine is amazing! On one side you can see the Chelsea Bridge, and on the other is Battersea Bridge.
I couldn’t think of many nicer places to end a walking adventure of London! I’ve taken a trip through South London to visit a famous Common, Park and Bridge, and seen how the first two played their part in both World Wars. Hope you had a great time reading my walk, and please share your thoughts below! Whilst I have you here, you can give me a follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too!
Greetings one and all! My walks have taken me to some of London’s most famous parks including Hyde Park, Green Park, and St James’s Park. Today, I visit another one of the capital’s beauty natural areas, Regent’s Park. From there I’ll go past the distinctive BT (British Telecom) Tower before ending in my final destination of Soho Square!
My journey begins in one of London’s eight Royal Park, Regent’s Park. Designed by John Nash, the park covers 395 acres of land and includes the Queen Mary’s Gardens which features over 12,000 roses of 400 varieties!
Originally part of the vast Forest of Middlesex, known as Marylebone Park, in 1538 the land was seized by King Henry VII. He turned the 554 acres of land into a hunting chase, and for the next 50 years it became a place where the King and Queen would entertain visiting dignitaries.
However, between 1649 and 1660 after the Civil War, the Commonwealth Government under Oliver Cromwell chopped down many the park’s trees to help pay off the debts from the war. When Cromwell died, Charles II became King and the park returned to the crown. Over the next 150 years the land was leased out to tenant farmers as hunting had gone out of fashion.
In 1811, there became a greater financial opportunity to start building on parkland than farming on it, and the new Prince Regent, later King George IV, wanted to take advantage of this. This lead to designs being produced for a new summer palace in the grounds.
The government architect, John Nash, was the man behind the redesigned park which was renamed Regent’s Park. The park featured a huge lake, canal, and the new royal residence. 56 villas and a series of grand regency terraces were built within the park by John Nash to pay for it.
However, the Prince’s attention turned to improving Buckingham Palace, so the idea of a summer house didn’t materialise. Nor did the 56 villas either, as only 8 were built! The park was originally only exclusive for residents of the villas and terraces, but in 1835 it was open to the public!
Like most of London during World War Two the park was bombed, with rubble from the buildings that were destroyed being dumped on the park’s lawns. In 1932, the Queen Mary’s Gardens opened to the public, with the rose gardens being completed in 1934.
Today, the beautiful rivers, scrubs, plants and fields provide a reminder of what it was like to be in Regency London. You do feel very lucky to have such stylish and peaceful gardens in London, as you feel like you’re in the countryside, not the centre of a city!
The park also features many sporting facilities with football and cricket pitches. It’s the perfect combination. On one part of the park you have the rivers and plants, and the other the sporting side of a park!
The park also features the amazing Jubilee Gates which are made from iron and were installed to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V, and the official opening of the Queen Mary’s Gardens in 1935. The gates have Grade II listed status and were donated by Sigismund Goetze who was a wealthy and successful artist that lived in Grove House on the northern perimeter of the park from 1909 to 1939.
I’d love to stay in the pleasant Regent’s Park, but I’ll continue my walk to Soho Square, and doing so I pass by one of the distinct buildings of the London skyline in Fitzrovia, the BT Tower.
Opened in 1965 by Prime Minster Harold Wilson, the BT Tower was built from 13,000 tonnes of steel and 4,600 square meters of glass. It was commissioned by the General Post Office to support microwave aerials carrying telecommunications transmissions from London to the rest of the country.
Architects Eric Bedford and G.R.Yeats were the men behind its unique design, with a cylindrical shape chosen for it so the building wouldn’t shift no more than 20cm in the high winds. The aerials on the tower were originally designed to handle up to 150,000 simultaneous telephone conversations and 40 television channels! Imagine the demand for those aerials now if they were used for WiFi signals…!
The tower stands at 189 metres high which at the time made it the tallest building in London until 1980, when the NatWest Tower overtook it. Today, it’s the 11th tallest building in the capital, and you do sometimes forget it’s there as more notable buildings like The Shard and The Cheesegrater in London get more attention! Over the years the tower has gone by many names including the Museum Tower, the Post Office Tower, the London Telecom Tower, and currently the British Telecom (BT) Tower.
It was awarded Grade II listed status in 2003, and even today it’s still a major broadcasting and communications hub with most UK TV’s passing through it. Regularly fundraising events such as BBC Children in Need are still held there.
With great phone signal in the area by the BT Tower, I now move onto the final destination of today’s walk, Soho Square. Outside Soho Square stands St Patrick’s Church, which is a Roman Catholic Parish Church which was built between 1891 and 1893 and designed by John Kelly. The current structure had replaced an earlier and smaller chapel which was built by Father Arthur O’Leary in the 1790s.
My journey ends in pretty Soho Square which dates back to 1670s and was formally known as King Square after Charles II.
In the middle of the square sits a statue of Charles II which was carved by Danish sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber in 1681. However, in 1875 when the square was altered it was removed from the square due to its poor state and it was given to artist Frederick Goodall. He placed the statue on the island in his lake at Grim’s Dyke until 1890 when dramatist W.S. Gilbert purchased the property. When Gilbert died in 1911, Lady Gilbert directed it to be returned to the square, and in 1938 it was restored into its original place.
The picturesque Tudor-like hut in the middle surprisingly has only been there since 1925. During World War Two the hut was used as a bomb shelter with 12 inches of brick and a concrete roof to accommodate around 150 to 200 people. However, today I’d love to say there is a magical use for it, but alas, it’s now just a shed, filled with gardening tools to help keep the square looking lovely!
My walk has taken me from one of London’s most famous parks to a secret square via one of London’s tallest building. I hope you found the walk both enjoyable and fascinating, and I look forward to you joining me again next week! In the meantime, why not follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too.