Day 1 began at the Tower of London and saw me wind my way through 7.78 miles of streets, alleys, and crescents (not to mention around 16.5 miles cycling to get there and back). Could I have asked for a better day to spend walking around London’s little lanes and courts? No way! An absolutely gorgeous day out.
One of the things I love best about London is how transparent it is. You get to know its personality and mood just by walking down its streets. The quiet roads told me that City offices were freakishly empty due to holiday travels. Nearly everyone who was working only did so for half a day and promptly skipped to the pub with their office mates. They spilled out of the taverns into the alleys, crowns on their heads and songs on their lips. For me, there is a great charm in feeling like I am part of the action in places I have never been before. Today certainly didn’t let me down.
The Mappy Part:
In my first post, I told you I actually started the project of documenting the streets I visit a couple of years ago. Here is a (pretty much) current map for you, prior to today’s outing.
And close-ups of today’s additions:
- I DO mean EVERY ROAD! When I came across the first tiny little alley that I could actually just see down, I thought, “Hmmmmm, so what’s the rule here? If I can see down the entire length of the road, does that count? Do I walk down it as well? I figured “walk all the streets of Central London” means I must. If I had cheated, I wouldn’t have found START written in the pavement for the picture above, and then where would we be??? The fact is, you can’t see everything by only peering down the street. Too many gems are hidden from view. You gotta walk it. So walk it I will!
- This adventure is going to involve a lot of backtracking. There is just no way to systematically hit every alley without having to double back on myself. Often.
- Backtracking is a good thing. Most of the time I saw things on the way back that I didn’t notice on the way in. It’s a great way to get to know the views from every direction and help link the streets together in my head.
- Mark streets off on the map after you walk down them. Construction and moving vans could – hypothetically, of course – block off places you planned to walk. Don’t celebrate in ink before you actually do it.
- Walking all afternoon and eating very little lunch makes for a highly effective pint at the end of the day.
If you want to be up close and personal with some of the city’s most iconic architecture, this neighbourhood is for you: the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Gherkin, the London Wall and fantastic views of the Shard to name a few. Let’s not forget the Thames too. It’s often overlooked in favour of the buildings lining it, but it really is the heart of the city.
As promised, next up are fewer words and more pictures. Notice the blue sky and warm sun on the buildings? Yeah. It was splendid.
Today I walked through the streets of Celtic London, Roman London, Viking London, Anglo-Saxon London, William the Conquered London, Tudor London, Dickensian London and the City of London (perhaps a few more too). It is the location of two of the city’s horrible disasters: the wrath of Boadicea and the Great Fire of 1666. This area has been built and wiped out like one urban lasagna.
If you view my quest in terms of Roman London, I am essentially 25% done. Success!
For the first few outings, I will stay within the London Wall to get a sense of how big the original city was. I have to pop in and out from time to time as it has a tendency to cross streets, but by and large the ancient area is still well defined by modern roads.
Streets of Note:
Well, that’s it for today, folks! Have a Merry Christmas and happy wanders!!!