LONDON'S SECRET WALKS
Five London tastemakers reveal their favourite strolls in the city
This article was originally published on Refinery29.com.
As London heats up (albeit slowly and reluctantly), its inhabitants take a tentative look outside while nervously shedding their tights. It’s almost time, readers, by which we mean summer time – and we’re already planning our weekend outdoor pursuits (after all, it may be fleeting).
There’s nothing quite like a stroll through a part of London you haven’t ventured to reignite your love for the city. And the best part? It’s free! We’ve asked five of London’s most savvy dwellers to share their favourite city walks. Happy ambling!
Elizabeth Sankey, Singer in Summer Camp, Writer and Blogger at Sankles
“The great thing about being freelance is that you can pick your days off; we [Elizabeth’s husband and Summer Camp bandmate, Jeremy Warmsley] always like to have ours midweek. Everywhere is quiet and it feels so naughty - in a good way. Since we work from home it's great to get outside, so we often plan mighty long walks to do, normally with (cake) stops built in.
Our current favourite is along the river. We will go down to Bermondsey and then walk the entire length of the water all the way up to the Southbank. It's a great way to see London, and there's something really special about the Thames - London was built around it so you feel very in touch with the past, while at the same time you can ogle at all the modern glass buildings being built so close to some of the city's oldest bits of brick. It's also a wonderful way of moving through the different areas that all edge onto the river bank. You go past the design museum, you see the docks, Tower Bridge stretches out gloriously over the water, and then you finally get to the BFI and Royal Festival Hall.
You can carry on going North, but we normally stop there and walk across Hungerford Bridge to visit Covent Garden, indulging in a lunch at Meat Market - the best burgers in London.”
Calgary Avansino – Wellness Expert and Contributing Editor, Vogue
“I've lived in London for 13 years and still one of my favorite things about this amazing city is how easy it is to walk from one neighbourhood to another and enjoy all that it offers up close and personal. I have two young daughters so our walks are always geared towards family-friendly fun, but they are old enough now that we can all strap on our sneakers and really walk - without a stroller - which opens up so many more options.
One of our favourite walks when we are up for a long excursion is to start at Kensington High Street and walk through Holland Park stopping for a swing at the Adventure Playground and a gaze at the daffodils in the Spring; then we head to Daunt Books on Holland Park Avenue, where we could all waste away hours. Eventually we get walking again and head north up to Notting Hill, winding through the gorgeous tree-lined streets until we reach our destination for lunch, which is usually either Granger on Westbourne Grove, Nama (a delicious new raw food restaurant) on Talbot Road or Daylesford on Westbourne Grove.
After lunch we roam around a few shops in Notting Hill (Kensington Park Road, Blenheim Crescent, Elgin Crescent being our favourite streets) and then if everyone still has energy we go see a movie at The Electric. We don't attempt to walk home after all that but maybe in a few years when their legs are a bit stronger we will do the full circle.”
Sapphire Lewis, Manager, Bleach London
“My favourite walking route in London is from Highbury to Dalston, preferably at around 8pm in the summer. Sometimes if I'm coming from town and I can't be bothered to get on the overground, this is such a nice route to take. It only takes around 30 minutes.
You start at Highbury fields and then cut onto Highbury Grove to get onto Grosvenor Avenue. This road is full of really gorgeous houses that I'd love to afford but will never be able to and in the summer the gardens smell amazing. Then you cross over Newington Green Road onto Mildmay Grove North, keeping the train line on your right. This road has loads of little mews running off it that have loads of climbing wisteria and secret courtyards.
Then you come onto Mildmay Road and onto John Campbell Road, which brings you right to the Rio Cinema.
My boyfriend pretty much has a built-in sat nav in his brain so I normally don't pay attention to where I'm going when I walk with him but this is such a lovely route, I made sure I remembered it.”
Tani Burns, Arts & PR Consultant at TBurnsArts and Co-Founder / Director of ARTNAKED
“There are so many great routes around London and so much history. I grew up in Dulwich, which is incredibly green – Dulwich Woods is a perfect place to take the dog for a walk in autumn…as clichéd as that sounds.
Now I live in Spitalfields, which is perfectly situated for a huge range of routes. I have a few favourites, though almost always there will be a new lane that catches my eye. If the weather’s nice, I like to start somewhere around Broadway in Haggerston, where on a Saturday I can empty my wallet pretty quickly on cured meats, bread and cheese. The fresh pesto I buy from the Borough Olives stall is still the best I’ve ever tasted. Then, I walk back down, crossing the canal, through to Columbia Road. When the Sunday flower market isn’t on you can do some real window shopping. Angela Flanders is an incredible bespoke perfumery which I have used a couple of times to create special scents for friends.
Rushing through Spitalfields and Brick Lane to avoid the crowded distraction, I love to head into the old cobbled streets of the city. Around Moorgate and Barbican you see the most facinating juxtaposition of 70s Brutalist architecture (I think the Barbican Centre was once actually voted ‘London’s ugliest building’) and iconic medieval structures like Guildhall. Because of events such as the Blitz or the Great Fire, these areas contain many layers of history which is seen literally in the bricks and mortar.
Finally, to St Pauls, which is hopefully benefiting from a gorgeous evening light, through the Cheapside, and ending up at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Dickens’ curious old haunt, for a glass of deep red. If by that point you’re not too worn out, Gordon’s Wine Bar is a natural step…although it has become very well-known, because it’s off the beaten track it doesn’t suffer too much from becoming a tourist trap.”