wear a stout pair of shoes!!


A traverse of the Thames basin

A walk from Greenwich Observatory to Parliament Hill

London: Greenwich is bottom right, Hampstead is top left.

Antony and I were having a beer in central London one day and were musing (like you do), on how little we actually see of the city - the tube runs through tunnels and cuttings and all you can see in a car is the exhaust of the car in front. We admit that you can see quite a lot of London from a bus but on a normal day in London we are either going somewhere or meeting someone and just stepping back and looking at buildings and people isn't part of the equation.

So we hatched a plan to walk across London - or to be more specific, across the Thames basin. You should understand that not everything we plan over a few pints of beer comes off so to celebrate our success on this occasion we've put up this account.

We thought about this a great deal. The finishing point on Parliament Hill seemed entirely appropriate as it is the highest point in London and neither of us had ever been there. The starting point was somewhat harder to establish but we knew we wanted set off from south of the river and seeing as Observatory Hill is within striking distance of the Thames and has good views north we decided on Greenwich.

Joining up these two points wasn't something we decided to do in advance. We had some vague notions of places to visit on-route but in the end most of them got dumped. Armed with a copy of the A-Z we just made it up as we went along.

A note on the maps
Somewhat perversely we have decided to illustrate the route with a bunch of maps swiped from a 1920's Baedecker which show none of the new developments mentioned in our account. This is because we couldn't find any modern maps that we liked - and we do think that these look quite good. We suggest however that you do not attempt to use them as walking maps of London as it is highly likely that you will get lost.

We recommend the A-Z Street Atlas published by the Geographer's A-Z Map Company which is not only inestimably useful but is also a design classic (and for those of you who have long taken this book for granted
click here for an appreciation of  the work of Phyllis Pearsall).

For anyone interested in modern architecture in London we would point you in the direction of the excellent
London: A guide to recent architecture published by ellipsis - their marvellous series of books are full of interesting buildings with plenty of detail and yet are small enough to fit into your pocket.


Next: Greenwich

The Isle of Dogs/Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf to Limehouse Basin

The Regency Canal Pub Crawl

Camden to Hampstead