Since I began Bowl Of Chalk London walking tours five and a half years ago I have continued to offer three set walks each weekend which operate on a 'pay what you want' basis. Each walk generally lasts about 2.5 / 3 hours. They are as follows:
Saturday morning - Trafalgar Square to St Paul's cathedral.
This walk begins in the tourist hot spot of Trafalgar Square, taking in the square itself, Nelson's Column and the National Gallery building. Although we don't venture around the 'sights' of Westminster, Big Ben is visible at the bottom of Whitehall. After visiting the statue of Charles I next to the official centre of London, we have of late, passed Benjamin Franklin's House, threaded our way through Victoria Embankment Gardens and up in to the bustling Covent Garden and St Paul's, the Actors' church. From here we make our way around Aldwych, passing the church of St Clement Danes and the Royal Courts of Justice, in to the City of London via Fleet Street. We usually veer off through the maze of alleyways that brings us to Dr Johnson's House, the famous statue of his beloved cat, Hodge and past the famous Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub. Back on Fleet Street, we pass the church of St Bride's, and up towards St Paul's cathedral.
Saturday Afternoon - St Paul's to Monument (via Bankside & Borough)
This walk begins by St Paul's cathedral, through the churchyard and on to the Millennium Bridge, taking us over the River Thames towards the Tate Modern on the south side. Here we pass by Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the site of the original Elizabethan Theatre which opened on Bankside in 1599, and along to the usually heaving Borough Market. We usually pop in to the 17th century George Inn on Borough High Street before heading up on to London Bridge, which offers a great view of the iconic Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the H.M.S Belfast before finishing at the Monument, commemorating the Great Fire of London, 1666.
Sunday - East London
The Sunday walk is very street art heavy, but does include historical elements. We often begin near Old Street, including Bunhill Fields Cemetery, where the likes of Daniel Defoe, William Blake and John Bunyan are buried. We pass the Wesleyan Chapel on City Road before heading in towards Shoreditch, which although is now a plethora of cafes, boutique shops and clubs, was in the 19th century, the centre of London's furniture trade. We usually stop off at Arnold Circus, the UK's first ever council estate, then bypassing the incredibly busy Brick Lane make our way towards Spitalfields with its fascinating Huguenot, Jewish and Bangladeshi heritage. Obviously the street art changes pretty regularly, but I tend (as with all my tours) to talk about things that interest me, and street art is no different. I'll undoubtedly point out and talk about Banksy, Ben Wilson (the chewing gum man), Christiaan Nagel, Bambi, Roa, Jimmy C and Thierry Noir ... amongst others.
If you're in London one weekend and think that one of these walks might appeal (or fit in with your schedule) then please send me a message via the contact form. You won't actually know where we're meeting until I send you all the details confirming the walk and how many places you'd like to book. I do this so I can keep an eye on numbers. Please don't try just turning up. You'll see from the photos that it could be just you, two people, four, eight or more. Unless someone books loads of people at once, it probably won't be that big a group.
Please check the dates on the website homepage to make sure the walk you'd like to join is running, as although it is pretty continuous, there are occasional changes.
So, I've got three recent walks to include in the roundup. The first was on Thursday evening. I was asked to take a company based on Rivington Street, (in Shoreditch) on a Christmas Party-esque type of walk around east London. Although they were all of normal height, with one above average (I would say), they were a small company. They'd booked a table at the infamous Ten Bells pub just next to Old Spitalfields market, so that's where we finished. Here they are outside the Ten Bells.
The Ten Bells, built in the mid 18th Century is infamous (as I have already mentioned), because of its connection with Jack The Ripper and the murders that took place around the Whitechapel area in 1888 and 1889. All of the victims were prostitutes, and the final Ripper victim is thought to be Mary Kelly, whose 'patch' was outside the Ten Bells and was the only one who was not murdered out on the street, but in her lodgings nearby. The Ten Bells' name changed to 'The Jack The Ripper' in the 1980's but I think someone pointed out that they were basically glorifying someone who murdered women, so they changed it back.
On Saturday morning, I did my regular walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's and was joined by Lawrence and Jerome from Singapore and Chris from the States.
Here they are standing outside what is generally regarded as Britain's smallest Police station, fitted snugly inside a hollowed out light fitting on the south eastern side of Trafalgar Square. It was installed in 1926 and also apparently served as a lock-up for drunk and disorderly types, although you could only get two of them in there ... at a push. My most recent inspection reveals that it contains a few bags of salt / grit and some brooms.
For Sunday's wander around the east end I was joined by an international quartet of Emilia, Anna, Vera and Vincy, hailing from Poland, Germany, Spain (via Austria) and Hong Kong if my memory serves me correctly. Here they are in Old Street, by what has been dubbed the 'Silicon Roundabout', home to an array of tech based, internet start-ups.
The area been in the news over the last week or so, because David Cameron (the Prime Minister) has pledged £50million to regenerate Old Street roundabout in to a super duper civic hub type place dedicated to tech start ups complete with a 400-seat auditorium and other shiny digital things. I think it's government money he's pledging ... not his own.
Coldest walk - Thursday night's east end walk
Group most eager to find a pub - Thursday night's east end walk
Best moustache - No winners
Youngest - Jerome
Most American - Chris
Best English accent for a non English person - Vera (Germany)
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.