Sunday, 10 August 2014

Private Walks

All through the month of August we'll be blogging a few choice nuggets from The Mothership – that's, the main website of London Walks. Our From The Archive series is written in the main by London Walks' Pen David Tucker and will feature practical tips on joining in with a London Walk, some general London info as well as some more "off the beaten track" bits…

Private Walks

Private London Walks and Group Bookings

Call 020 7624 3978       

Okay, a bit of common sense to get us started.

In seven words: it all comes down to the guiding.

That's the iron law, whatever the makeup of the group. It can be a private walk for a couple of sophisticated adults – or a private walk for a "challenging" school group. Or anything in between. Whatever the group – it all comes down to the guiding.

Consider, by way of example, a "challenging" school group.

Think of that time-honoured adolescent combination of boredom, lethargy and free-floating belligerence.

There, in a nutshell, is why it's important to get the right guide. You want a guide who can snap them out of that. Just like that. And keep them out of it. Some guides can do that. Some can't. It's a god-given talent that some guides have got and others don't have. You're booking a private walk for a school group you want a guide who's got that ability as part of their skill-set.

And that's why you come to us. It's in your interest to 1) get the right walk for your group and 2) get the right guide. The two sides of the same coin. It's in our interest to make sure that happens.

Whereas it's in the guide's interest to get the job/take the job – even if they're not right for it.

You book a private walk through us you eliminate the risk of getting a guide who's not right for your group. You eliminate that risk because your best interest is absolutely congruent with our best interest.

So there's lots of upside. And no downside at all. Including cost. It doesn't cost more to go through us.

In addition to the all-important guide-group "fit" there's the full panopoly of London Walks experience and back-up that you get. As well as being able to talk it over – explore the possibilities, draw on the unrivalled nous of "the walking tour specialists".


Don't just take it from us. Instead maybe chew on this. It's from a teacher. It's unsolicited. It's par for the course for the London Walks guides who specialise in walks for school groups.

"I have just returned from a school visit to London with a group of sixth
form students. As part of the itinerary we took part in a Jack The Ripper
Tour with Susanne on Tuesday 09th July (7pm).

"We all felt that we must pass on just how fantastic she was. The kids
were enthralled with her stories about Jack and life in London at the
time, she was very knowledgeable and answered all pupils questions very
clearly. She also had a brilliant sense of humour and really connected
with our pupils. It was an absolute pleasure for us to watch her in
action and the students were still talking about it the next day. I have
already recommended the tour to other departments at the school and we
will definitely be adding the tour to the itinerary in 2014. Once again
thank you for an amazing guide and please pass on our thanks to Susanne."

And on that note, for sure, let's hear it for private walks! 

Your own guide just for you and your group. We move heaven and earth to get a great "fit" between guide and group. We'll get you the right guide for your group!) And it's a walk or tour that's tailored just for you. And as for what it costs to "go private" – well, a private London Walk must be the best bargain in London!

And there's just so much to choose from. If you're thinking about "going private" it's Welcome to Aladdin's Cave!

By way of an example: for history, archaeology, zoology, piquancy and an astonishingly different perspective all rolled into one come mudlarking with us on the Thames foreshore. A private Beachcombing tour – guided by the world's leading expert on that stretch of the Thames foreshore. It's dead in the centre of London but it's terra incognita even to Londoners – and great fun for all ages. And you'll be able to take a piece of London history home with you – a shard of Roman pottery, a mediaeval roof tile, an Elizabethan clay pipe... Souvenirs don't come any more special!

The London Walks guides repertory of over 550 walks (including all the Day Trips from London) can be tailored to fit your needs. We also organise Treasure Hunts, Fright Nights, and illustrated lectures. Foreign language-speaking guides are available. For further details, please contact Fiona, Noel or Mary.

 And you want to know why it always makes sense to "go with London Walks" if you're thinking of booking a private walk? Here's why: 1) price and 2) service.

1) We beat all comers on price. How do we do that? It's simply a matter of London Walks being run off our kitchen table. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration – there is a London Walks "office". But it's in our home. So that means we're not paying those killing London rental rates for office space. Let alone commercial rates (property tax, if you're thinking in American parlance).

2) And as for service, well: 1) is absolutely to the point here as well. Because we work from home London Walks is an 18/7 operation. You  ring a "normal" business at 6.30 am – or 10 pm! – or over the course of the weekend you're going to get an answering machine. You ring London Walks – 020 7624 3978 – you're get a real person, a live person. And for that matter, not just live –  lively! Same goes for email. You send an email on Friday evening to a big company you won't get a real response until sometime next week. You might get one of those machine generated things, but who needs that crap. You send one here you could well be hearing back from "the English rose" (Mary) or me (David) or Katy (our "juv lead") within the hour. And we'll certainly be back to you with a proper reply – not some machine-generated placebo – before the weekend is out.

Now any of that important? Damn straight it is. Great communications are one of the names of the game here. You're going to be late for a private walk and you can't reach the guide because he or she is on the tube. And you're about to go on the tube itself where you won't be able to ring. What do you do? Do you stay above ground, so you can keep trying to get through phonerly? Which means you're going to be still later getting to him? Or do you head into the tube, hoping that he (or she) will hang on, even though you're likely to be 25 minutes late. It's a problem, isn't it? Except it isn't a problem if  you've booked with London Walks. Isn't a problem because you ring here. And we'll get the message "patched through". One way or another. It gets an extra helping hand into the mix. It's the essential link. As crucial to the operation as the "controller" with the phone/radio connections is to the ambulance service.

Also, there's depth, there's "back-up" with London Walks that you don't get elsewhere. You have to make a very late change of plan. For example, something's come up and you need to do the walk a couple of hours later than its previous scheduled starting time. You go to someone who doesn't have the sort of depth and "back up" that London Walks has – well, maybe that guide has other commitments, can't do it for you two hours later. Bad news. You'll be billed of course – and you won't get your walk. Double whammy. Different story here. Because of our depth and "back up" we can almost always pull a rabbit out of the hat. So flexibility and resourcefulnes is also a very important part of the mix. You get that with London Walks, you don't get it elsewhere.

Anything else? Sure. We'll talk it through with you – either phonerly or by email. Find out a lot more about your group – where you're coming from, literally and figuratively – what you have in mind, what you want the walk to deliver. And that's all by way of getting the best possible "fit" between guide and group. Let alone tailoring the thing – route-wise or commentary-wise – to any given group's requirements and wishes. You're not going to get that elesewhere. The singletons will just say, "yes, sure, I'll do that for you." Well, yes, they will do it. And if they're a professionally qualified guide they'll do it competently. And if it's "up their street", so to speak, they might well do it more than competently. But competently, more-than-competently, schmompently – what London Walks aims at – and is able to consistently serve up – is brilliantly. There's a difference. A big difference.

And the final point is perhaps the most important of all. We're London Walks. This is what we do. Have done for  half a century. Walking tours in London is what we specialise in. Nobody – NOBODY – does it anywhere near as well. There are good reasons for that. Good reasons why there's no comparison!

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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