Visit London off the beaten tracks

London Free Walking Tour

Last week, we went on a 48hour city break to the English Capital.

We stayed in a hotel packed with eco-friendly features, that we’ll talk about soon. They proposed self-guided free walking tour, with directions.

The walks were as short as 15 minutes in the historical parts of London, up to 2 hours and a half

The one we chose was The secret City tour.We think it originally was designed by Richard’s Jones ( the pioneer of London walking tours).

We loved the experience so much; we thought we’d share it with you for your next city trip to London;

What you’ll see

This walking tour promises to visit London off the beaten track.
It will take you from Tower Hill Station to St Paul’s metro station through hidden streets and tiny alleys, following the steps of Dickens himself.

Starting point : You’ll reach Tower Hill Station with either Circle or District Tube lines. Get London Metro Directions Here

Best time to do the tour : We did our visit on a Saturday morning, and it was very calm which made it even more magical.

Side note: You’ll cross many churches on the way, most of them are closed on Saturday Mornings. A pity if you want to enter and visit

Ready, Set, Go

Step one : admire tower of london

  • Exit Tower Hill Underground station, turn your head to the left and step up the few steps that lead to a viewpoint on the Magnificent buildings of the Tower of London
  • After admiring the view, head down the stairs and left to Trinity square
Points of interest:

The tower of London was founded in the 11th Former Royal Palace, it’s mainly famous for being a jail and a place for executions. A fire hit the building in 1841.
More on the Tower of London here

STEP TWO

  • Pass in Front of the Trinity House and continue to 10 Trinity Square
  • Turn right into Muscovi Street
  • At the end of the street, turn right again into Seething Lane
    • In the garden of Seething Lane, you’ll see Samuel Pepys statue (he was an administrator of the English Navy and Member of Parliament)
Points of interest:

N° 10 trinity square is a listed building.
It used to be the headquarters of the Port of London Authority. Built-in Beaux Arts styles this magnificent building is the property of a high-end hotel

STEP THREE

  • At the end of Seething Lane, on the left side of the street pause outside the gate of St Olave’s church
  • Turn left into Hart Street.
    • You’ll spot the other side of the church and some information on it
    • A little further on the street, admire the beautiful Ship Tavern
Good to know

St Olave’s church is a medieval church and one of London’s smallest. Read more

STEP FOUR: A VIEW ON THE GHERKIN

  • Turn right on Mark Lane and walk up to the “All Hallows Staining” Tower
  • Immediately after the tower turn left in Star Alley and follow it up to Fenchurch street
  • On Fenchurch, turn left and take the first right to Fen Court
    • In this small street, you’ll see gravestones and tabletop tombs, on what seems to be a former church graveyard.
  • Turn left at the end of the street onto Fenchurch Avenue and walk up to the Llyod’s building (it is classified and nicknamed the Inside out Building.) Personally, it made us think of Beaubourg Museum in Paris
    • Don’t forget to turn your head to the right to see the “Gherkin” or Swiss Re Building
Good to know:

All Hallows Staining used to be a church, and all that remains is its tower built around 1320. Staining means stone. More info

STEP FIVE: HARRY POTTER’S FAVOURITE MARKET

  • Turn left along Lime Street and directly right into Leadenhall place and head to the Leadenhall Market
  • Walk through the market and exit by Gracechurch street
  • Cross the street to go ahead in St Peter’s Alley
    • Check the little churchyard in the alley
  • Follow the alley and turn left at the end on Cornhill Street
Points of interest:

Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest covered markets in London and was designed in 1881. If it looks familiar, it’s probably because you saw it in Harry Potter.
More on the Market

STEP 6: GLOOMY PASSAGEWAYS

  • Once on Cornhill, take the second left after the St Michael’s church into Ball Court
    • Take a Peak at the Simpson’s eatery, open since 1757
  • Take the passageway at the left of Simpson’s and take a left as you get out
  • Go right into St Michael’s Alley and stop at George & Vulture
  • Turn immediately right through Bengal Court, then right along Birchin Lane to get back on Cornill street
Good to know:

George and Vulture, is a pub built in 1748 and used to be an inn. It was mentioned 20 times at least in the Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Read more

STEP 7: head to the royal exchange

  • Cross Cornhill street, bear left and then go first right into Royal exchange pedestrian street
  • Walk up to the Statue of Paul Julius Reuters (founder of the world news organization)
  • In front of the statue, enter the Royal Exchange Building
  • Walk through the Royal Exchange Building and down the steps.
    • The Bank of England is at your right
  • Bear left from the steps, cross cornill street again, and go through the Pope’s head alley in front of you leading you to Lombard street
    • Dicken’s first love, Maria Beadnell lived in Lombard street
  • Continue right over Lombard street and pass the Church of St Mary Woolnoth
Points of interest:

Royal Exchange Building was founded in the 16th century by Thomas Gresham. It was twice destroyed by fire. The current version was open in 1844 by Queen Victoria. Now home to luxury shops. A panel at the entrance gives you some history on the building as you step in

STEP 8

  • Cross King William Street and go straight along St Swithin’s lane
  • Take the first right into Mansion House Place
  • Then left into St Stephen’s row
  • Continue in Walbrook where you arrive at The Church of Stephen Walbrook
Points of interest:

The church of Stephen Walbrook was said to be one of the most beautiful churches and famous all over Europe. Henry Moor carved the altar.

STEP 9

  • Exit the church, cross Wallbrook Street and go ahead in Bucklersbury
  • Turn left on Queens Victoria street, and head to Watling Street on you right
    • You’ll see the cordwainer statue
  • Continue on Watling, to see Ye Old Watlin, a pub built in 1666 with dismantled ships timber
  • Cross Walting street and go ahead along Bow lane a medieval pedestrian street
  • Halfway through Bow Lane, turn left into Groveland Court to See Williamson’s Tavern
Good to know:

Williamson’s Tavern: Used to be the official residence of the Lord Mayor during the 17th

STEP 10

  • Go back to Bow lane and turn left
  • At the church go left in Bow Churchyard then right
    • To your left the Statue of Captain Jon Smith, one of the first settlers in North America
  • Head right along Cheapside street, cross the street and go ahead
  • Turn left into Old Jewry and first left into Frederick’s place
    • Elegant houses to see now embassies and banks
  • Exit Fredericks place and return left in Old Jewry
  • Turn left into St Olave’s court
  • Left onto Ironmonger-lane, then right through Prudent Passage
  • Turn right onto King Street and cross Gresham street ahead to enter the City’s Guildhall Courtyard, you can visit the art gallery
points of interest

London Guildhall: grade I listed building. An administrative building used as a town hall for over 100. Read More

STEP 11

  • From the gallery go through the courtyard
  • Pass under the offices at the right of Guildhall when you exit it
  • Go right onto Aldermanbury street and head to Love Lane Garden
    • Statue of Shakespeare in the middle of the garden
    • Behind the statue: remains of a church
  • Exit love lane garden and bear right on love lane
    • You’re passing in front of the mounted police stables
  • Cross Wood Street and get to the covered St Alban’s court
  • Go Right into Oat Lane then left along Noble Street
  • Cross Noble Street to see the Roman Fort Remains : 1000 men used to live here, more info here

STEP 12

  • Continue left on Noble street then right on Gresham
  • Turn right on Aldersgate street
    • You can visit the London museum
  • Cross Aldersgate street an go through the gate of St Botolph’s church to go in Postman’s Park
  • Stop at the Memorial to Self Sacrifice
Good to know

Memorial to Self Sacrifice: inspired by a painter in 1887, it commemorates everyday heroism acts of those who lost their lives to save others. More info

STEP 13

  • Exit the park by the gates opposite those you entered
  • Cross the street and turn right
  • Continue straight ahead and turn LEFT into little Britain (not the one on the right when you exit the park)
  • Go to the end of the street to see the Gatehouse of St Bartholomew the great
  • Exit the church and go out the gatehouse
  • Take the first street into cloth fair
Good to know:

Cloth-fair was held every year until 1855. The monks established it. Learn more

STEP 14

  • Continue on cloth fair, turn left into the alley after the wine bar
  • Return to cloth fair and turn left into West Smithfield street
  • Pause on the left by the memorial of those who were executed here
    • The walls are heavily pockmarked due to a zeppelin raid
    • The buildings behind the walls are those of St Bartholomew’s Hospital
  • Walk up to the Henry 8 gateway
  • Go through the gate and enter the Church of St Bartholomew the less on your left
    • Suggested stop: the museum of the Hospital under the arch at the left when you exit the church
LAST LAP

  • Return through the gate, turn left on Giltspur street
    • Suggested stop at the corner of Cock-lane: to see the Golden Boy of Pike Lane put up in the memory of the London Great Fire that stopped here. Doesn’t he look like a friend of Maneken Pis ?
  • Continue on Giltspur street
  • To your right the 18th-century watch house
  • Turn right to see the Holy Sepulchre Without Newgate Church
  • Out of the church, head back to Giltspur street, cross to look at the Viaduct Tavern : it’s london’s only remaining Gin Palace
  • Exit the tavern to the left along Newgate street and head to St Paul’s Underground Station ahead of you

Before heading to the station, we made a detour to St Paul’s Cathedral.

A must see in London’s heritage, with its domes and whispering gallery, if you have the budget (18 pounds per adult, in December 2018).

We hope you enjoy it, and if you do it, tell us what your favourite stop on the walk was.

What’s your favourite walking tour in London ? Tell us in the comments

Holiable
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