Exploring on Foot – London
Whist living in London, often I would venture out, with no particular destination in mind and aimlessly walk around town. Leaving our flat in West Hampstead (North London) in the morning, sometimes I would walk for miles to areas across town like London Bridge (South London). And in doing so I was able to take in an incredible amount and a wonderful array of sights along the way: Abbey Road, Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park, Oxford Street, Soho, Trafalgar Square, The River Thames just to name a few.
On these walks, time and again, I would also find myself discovering new areas, hidden gardens, concealed passageways, historic streets and interesting sights. Each new discovery revealed an exciting, new side of London that I never knew existed, despite my thinking that I knew the city so well.
These new frames of London, made me realise that I had barely scratched the city’s surface, making me that much more eager to get out explore and look a little harder at my surrounds. Even the simple act of turning down a different street than I was used to would be an adventure, offering up a whole new world of sights and sounds.
Whether you’re new in town or just visiting London for a few days, I strongly suggest that you do the same. Put your oyster card away and instead take to the pavement. London is such a walkable city. Yes, the area that the city covers is extensive but I found that there is so much to see and it’s often missed by taking the Tube.
Don’t get me wrong the Tube is awesome. It is an incredibly fast and efficient way to get from A to B, but experiencing a city is not just about hitting up all the major tourist sites and attractions quickly, it’s also about getting a real feel and sense of character of the place you’re in. I happen to believe you can get this from walking the streets and looking out for the less obvious signs of cultural identity (both past and present), which tell a story just as compelling as the more obvious and well known ones do.
Similarly for me, it’s not all about the final destination but rather the things you find along the way. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote ‘it’s about the journey and not the destination’. And what I mean by that in reference to London is that the history of London is written in the streets. The period architecture, the cobble stoned streets, the street names themselves, collectively offer a glimpse of yesteryear. Along with monuments, plaques, and physical battle scars they show a city that has both seen and felt the effects of the deathly plague, the devastation of the Great Fire, the destruction of both world wars and the rule of the monarchy.
Being constantly in awe of my surrounds on occasion I would go on little London photo shoots, by myself, with Nick or with friends (Dannii) who shared the same passion for London as I did. Snap happy we would walk around London for hours. It helps that London is such a photographic city. Everywhere you turn there is a scene to capture, a moment to record, a part of history both past and present to remember and look back on.
I’d be very happy to spend the rest of my days walking the streets of London with eyes wide open and be amazed by how much history there is in this city.
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