Thames Walk

A stroll along the South Bank

London has plenty of places to walk. One of the most scenic and traffic free is along the South bank of the Thames from Westminster to Tower Bridge. It's a distance of about three miles and it takes just as long as you would like it to.

You could go either way, but my preference has always been to start at Westminster and end up at Tower Bridge, in which case start at Westminster underground station just by the Houses of Parliament.

Walk across Westminster bridge and take the steps left towards the London Eye. You might well take time out to watch one of the many performance artists who frequent this part of the South Bank.

Continue on past the Royal Festival Hall, taking a last look at the skateboarders using the undercroft of the South Bank Centre, as rumour has it they won't be there much longer.

Looking across the river you will see the white stone Shellmex building, famous for the largest clockface in London. Also on the opposite bank below the Shellmex building is the stone obelisk brought back from Egypt in the 19th century and referred to as Cleopatras Needle.

Carry on past the National Film Theatre to Gabriels Wharf and the OXO Tower. An underpass takes you below the newer Blackfriars Bridge, past the remnants of the old bridge and onwards to the Tate Modern in the old Bankside Power Station building closely followed by the reincarnation of Shakespeares Globe Theatre.

At this point, you can take a diversion across the river on the Millenium footbridge to visit St Pauls Cathedral. Even if you choose not to be diverted, the view across the bridge and up to the cathedral is a classic.

The route now takes a slight detour inland around the corner past the Anchor pub. A tavern or similar drinking establishment has stood on this site for about 800 years. Samual Pepys is reputed to have watched the Great Fire of London from here in 1666.

Clink Street takes you past the site of the old Clink Street debtors prison and museum outside which, Roman walls are visible. Take a detour past the replica of Sir Francis Drakes Golden Hinde and continue along the waters edge to London Bridge. This is the new bridge on the site of the bridge that was shipped to and reassembled in Lake Havasu, Arizona in the 1960s.

You now have to climb the stairs to the road level of London Bridge and cross the main road heading diagonally to your left. Take the stairs down and 'through' the modern building at 1 London Bridge. A riverside walkway takes you along past HMS Belfast.

On the way, you will pass Hays Galeria. Converted from one of the many riverside warehouses this is, for want of a better description a small shopping mall. Worth a quick look.

The historic sites now come thick and fast. HMS Belfast has been moored here since 1971 following a distinguished career protecting Arctic convoys, the D Day landings during World War II and further combat action during the Korean War.

The ultra modern, egg shaped City Hall, headquarters to the London Assembly and the office of the Mayor of London occupies this side of the river while the Victorian Tower Bridge leads across to the much older Tower of London.

Tower Bridge houses a museum and a visit includes the opportunity to walk across the high level walkways between the bridge towers.

The Tower of London has been a royal palace, a prison, a fortress and even a zoo during its thousand year history. First built in 1066 following the Norman conquest, it has been witness to insurrections, grand larceny and executions, the last taking place during World War II, the most notable probably those of some of the wives of Henry VIII. Today it houses a large collection of historical artefatcs and the crown jewels of England which are open to the public.

The historic St Katherine Dock also lies, somewhat hidden, north of Tower Bridge. The dock was once a working dockyard surrounded by warehouses. The shipping that remains is largely pleasure craft although you may well see one or two traditional Thames sailing barges moored up. The buildings have all been converted to residential or leisure use.

The nearest tube station is at Tower Hill, just north of and across the road from the Tower.

There are plenty of opportunities to eat and drink along the route.

2 hours
Opening hours
Free entry
Accessibility   No information available
Last update - 21 May 2016
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