London's Secret Walks is a walking book with a difference, taking in many of London's lesser-known, but no less worthy sights. As Samuel Johnson said to his friend Boswell in the 18th century, on the occasion of the latter's arrival in London: "survey its innumerable little lanes and courts." By extension, wander off the beaten tourist track and you'll discover a world of fascinating sights and attractions that not many tourists - or even Londoners - get to see.
Walking makes a lot of sense in London. Despite the introduction of a congestion charge to drive in the centre of the city, it remains traffic-choked. And London has some of the world’s most expensive (and crowded) public transport. So pounding the streets is quite often the quickest and least stressful way to get around. It’s also free and healthy. Although London has a reputation for its wet climate, the city’s reputation for rain is largely unfounded – it actually enjoys a lower annual rainfall than New York, Rome and Sydney – and is generally mild and rarely too hot or too cold to make walking uncomfortable.
London has a somewhat ‘haphazard’ street pattern (to put it mildly), the result of having grown organically over 2,000 years rather than being planned logically, in the manner of say New York. As a result, many of the city’s attractions are slightly off the beaten track, neither on a major thoroughfare or near a public transport stop. This also favours walking as the best means of exploring them, as does the fact that London is a quirky, visually interesting city, with plenty of stimulating sights and distractions between destinations; you miss many of these if you pass in a cab or on a bus – and obviously if you’re cocooned in a claustrophobic tube train.
The starting point for this book was Samuel Johnson’s advice to his friend Boswell in the 18th century, on the occasion of the latter’s arrival in London: “survey its innumerable little lanes and courts.” By extension, wander away from the obvious, because there’s much that’s hidden and interesting, as you would expect in a city as large, diverse and ancient as London.
I’ve researched and walked much of central(ish) London to construct the 25 walks contained in this book, identifying the less well-known attractions in each of the areas covered (there are already plenty of walking books covering the more famous sights). The walks vary in length, but most can be done in half a day or less, depending, of course, on how quickly you walk and how long you spend at the highlighted sights (particularly in the pubs and restaurants!).
The walks don’t always follow the most logical route from a to b, but that’s deliberate: the aim is to maximise the interest and enjoyment of the walk, rather than get from start to finish as fast as possible. Putting this book together has been fascinating, educational and enjoyable (as well as time-consuming). And the exercise involved has made me leaner, with thighs as taut as steel cable. I hope you find the walks as engaging, rewarding and flat-stomach-forming as I have.
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|RRP:||£11.95 Survival Books|
|Published:||1st Aug 2012|
|Number of Pages:||320 Pages|
|Dimensions:||110mm W x 190mm H|