Thanks Jim W of Maryland for the review on Tripadvisor…
Every time my wife and I come to London we make sure we take advantage of London Walk tours. There are dozens upon dozens of interesting walks to choose from. They all start a the entrance to an Underground tube station and cost ten pounds per person, or eight pounds for seniors. Children under fifteen are free. The guides are interesting speakers and have a thorough knowledge of the areas they lead their tours through. The walks last two hours on average.
This time around we chose a Dickens and Shakespeare themed walk starting at St Paul's Cathedral station. Our guide was a Royal Shakespeare Company actor. He took us on a fascinating journey to actual places described in these authors books, and through areas of London where Shakespeare lived and Dickens worked. At various points along the way he would recite, often from memory, passages from various books and plays. Standing in the courtyard of Guildhall and listening to his voice fill that vast space was truly magical. This walk could easily have been split into two, one on Dickens and the other focused on Shakespeare.
Another London Walk we took focused on London during the Blitz. It also started at the St Paul's Underground station. The mother of our guide lived through the Blitz so he was able to provide very personal accounts of the horrors that were rained down upon this beautiful city and its people.
We also took London Walks tours through the Covent Garden Theatre District and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The best thing about London Walks is that in a short period of time you learn very interesting information from the guides, while seeing places 99% of London's visitors will never see. Just as one example, we stood in Smithfields which was once the meat market and cattle yards of London, and saw where the Scottish hero William Wallace and the English terrorist Guy Faulks were executed, where Dickens' character Oliver Twist would have passed on his way to a robbery, where we could touch the scars left in the walls of St Bart's hospital by bombs dropped from a Zeppelin in WWI, all while listening to our guide recite from King Lear. If that isn't fascinating, I don't know what is!
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 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 www.walks.com.