Wednesday, 15 February 2017

London Walks: City and Riverside

After my series of blog posts on Secret London I have been developing a new London project, London Interrupted, which I hope to begin soon. In the meantime I am thinking about London excursions I have enjoyed which can contribute to my new London project. I recently retrod one of my favourite London walks, with my mother and daughter, which I developed ten years ago. It is a circular route starting and ending at Liverpool Street Station.

There was a lot of building work going on (as usual) and the crossrail construction site continues at the once green and leafy Finsbury Circus, which slightly marred our way to the Barbican. The entrance to the Barbican is hard to find at the best of times but a new maze of scaffolding caused extra difficulties.

I must say that despite the access problems it's definitely worth persevering to visit the Barbican, I still think it's a complex of great, architectural beauty, a lot of concrete, but also, green, glassy, airy, watery, with a positive, futuristic, hopeful feel; a lovely celebration of culture and the arts. We enjoyed elevenses in the waterside cafe, before moving on.

The walk continued around the exteriors of St. Bart's and Smithfield's market, to St. Paul's and Paternosta Square, an impressive open space with cafes and metro shops.

The walk across the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern was busy, but I find it always a pleasure, walking over the elegant, smooth, metallic structure. We walked past more of my favourite London landmarks, the Globe, the Clink and the Golden Hinde before arriving at Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market.

Southwark Cathedral is one of my favourite churches in London. The Cathedral itself is beautifully kept, peaceful and with a golden glow about it, it also has a lovely gift shop and cafe. I have enjoyed many a tea and cake in the cathedral cafe. The cafe is filled with pale, varnished wood and a gleaming, copper lit, metal self service counter; it shines and often glitters as the sun comes through its large windows at a very flattering angle. It is also made more attractive by the flower paintings displayed on the walls. The flower paintings also feature on some of the gifts in the shop as well as more Christian specific items.

We wandered around Borough Market, which has a wonderful array of food and drink on offer, different cheeses, breads, spices, juices, vegetables, flowers. It is situated under London bridge and the underneath structure of the bridge forms an impressive roof. The market has grown and become more gentrified over the years, it is now quite easy to get lost among the diverse wares on offer. One of my favourite sections is the impressive selection of edible fungi. There is also a good supply of street food and drink which you can enjoy there and then.

We visited Hay's Galleria and crossed Tower Bridge before coming to the St Katherine's Docks.


Many an extravagant yacht is moored at St Katherine's docks. The boats, narrow bridges and walkways are surrounded by sophisticated apartment blocks and artistic boutiques as well as a smattering of cafes and coffee shops. You are also offered elegant views of the Thames, through wide water ways. By the time we reached the docks the sun was nearly setting and the Thames and London had acquired a kind of fading beauty. Today we forsook the cafes and coffee shops and headed for the pub. We stopped for drinks in the Dickens's Inn situated in the middle of St Katherine's Docks. The pub covers several levels and is very dark and woody, but also comfortable and there are many of Dickens's beery quotes stencilled onto the wooden beams.

The last leg of the walk was past the back of the Tower of London, through Tower Gardens up past Fenchurch Street Station and down Fenchurch Street itself, to Leadenhall market. 

Leadenhall Market is quite a sight for sore eyes, amongst all the high-tech, tall, metal and glass corporate buildings that surround it. It is ornate, in red and gold brick, Victorian with an intricate glassy roof. You might recognise it from Harry Potter, it has a distinctive Diagon Alley aura. There are old shops here, old pubs and a Waterstones nearby. There was building work going on when we visited, hopefully they will enhance the place and not ruin it. We enjoyed dinner in Pizza Express before making our way back to Liverpool Street Station via the Gherkin which overshadowed a pretty old church.

I'm really pleased we did this walk again. I first developed it, about ten years ago; it helped me to recover from my broken heart.

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