diamond geezer

 Sunday, January 29, 2012

WALK LONDON: Walk Out To Winter (Sat 28 & Sun 29 Jan)
Paved With Gold (1½ miles)


Three times a year, Walk London organise a weekend of walks across the capital. This is one of those weekends, with fifty perambulations up for grabs, each led by an expert guide, and each free of charge. Here's a report of the walk I went on yesterday...

Not a bad turnout, I thought. A hundred people turned up outside Sloane Square station yesterday morning, each keen to wander the streets of Belgravia and discover more about the rich folk who live(d) here. There being so many of us we were split into two tours, each under the tutelage of a separate leader. My half's guide was Stephanie, who used to be an elephant-keeper at London Zoo, and was therefore highly adept at keeping a large group of wanderers under control. She does this for a living, working for the excellent London Walks, and we were to follow a route that usually costs punters eight quid. Bargain.

We headed first for the Pimlico Road, home to an upmarket agglomeration of designer boutiques. When the moneyed classes of Belgravia fancy a new bathroom, or silver candlestick or floral print handbag, how fortunate that so many local businesses are falling over themselves to offer such services. Viscount Linley runs a bespoke furniture store at the foot of Passmore Street, not especially busy with punters, but then I guess it only takes one sale to rack up a hefty profit. Stephanie paused us in Bunhouse Place because here's where the original Chelsea buns were baked, and to point out the Peabody homes where many Victorian servants hereabouts rented an apartment. Workers often needed to live somewhere close to their masters, for example all those humble mews houses which now sell for a million plus, tucked round the back of the larger villas.

The famous residents and ex-residents came thick and fast. Mozart lived in Ebury Street, only for a brief stay, and only as a young child, but long enough for him to compose his first two symphonies. Round the corner, in Belgravia proper, Noel Coward was bombed out of his home and went to stay at the Savoy. That, said Stephanie once we reached Chester Square, is where Andrew Lloyd Webber now lives, a few doors down from Mary Shelley's old place. She wouldn't take us over to the townhouse at number seventy-something, the one with a 24 hour police guard on the doorstep, but yes, blimey, that's where Margaret Thatcher lives out her remaining days. Surprisingly close to Victoria station, her gaff, but tucked away in a secluded spot overlooking private gardens, and offering precious anonymity.

All of the houses in Belgravia are of a similar type, having been built at the same time, and still being under the control of the Grosvenor Estate. Four-or-five storey terraced townhouses, each redbrick underneath but plastered in stucco, and a requirement in the lease to paint the front every few years in the regulation magnolia. He's a tough landlord, the Duke of Westminster, but numerous super-rich foreign millionaires flock to buy his property and help to top up his personal fortune still further. When he's in town he lives in an apartment in Eaton Square, one of London's largest residential squares - broad and very long, and set around grand communal gardens. Meanwhile close by is the house where all the external scenes of the original Upstairs Downstairs were filmed - 165 Eaton Place in the series, but 65 in real life. [photo]

Where the identikit buildings stop, the Cadogan Estate begins. This is a bit nearer to Knightsbridge, a little busier with people, but still an insanely desirable place to live. A Bentley parked up beside a Range Rover beside a Mini, that's the sort of roadside combination that's normal here, and a personalised numberplate often de rigeur. We turned off down a narrow mews beside the Prince of Wales' dry cleaners to see the anonymousflat where Judy Garland committed suicide [photo]. And finally to the hotel where Oscar Wilde unwisely turned himself over to the police, and where mistress Lillie Langtry had rooms. Here Stephanie bade us farewell - I suspect thirty minutes short of the tour she normally provides, but then it was damned cold, and we'd paid her no more than thanks. The entire walk runs next on March 10th, should you be interested, because you get so much more out of a Belgravia stroll with an expert to guide you.

If you're interested in one of today's free walks, good luck. You'll have to dig your way through this user-unfriendly database, which lists each walk separately beneath a not-especially informative header. The Walk London website used to display these special walking weekends so much more practically, via an appropriately detailed one-page overview, but I can only assume the project has had its budget cut substantially so can no longer afford a bespoke coding solution. Anyway, I've dug around and can tell you that two thirds of the weekend's walks are merely short strolls in the heart of town, many of them repurposed Walk London walks. They'll be good, but if you fancy something longer and healthier then today's only options are Capital Ring section 12, the Thames round Richmond, a short trek across Epping Forest and half of the Regent's Canal. Walk out to winter - your mind and body will thank you for it.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
tired of london
in the aquarium
round the island
christopher fowler
thamesfacingeast
one bus at a time
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
uk general election 2015

read the archive
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv