Monday, 12 February 2007

Getting to know you part 2 - A walk on the wild side

If bus tours are a great way of seeing London without any effort, walking tours are a way of getting to know something very specific with slightly more effort. Whatever your interest there’s probably a walk for it. Jack the Ripper, pubs along the River Thames, Victorian London, the British Museum, ghosts, even the Beatles are all covered in one walk or another.

Jack the lad: A victim is found (Source: London Walks)

The most well-known company is London Walks. They run hundreds of walks every year, whatever the weather and whatever the date. There are even walks on Christmas Day. Their most famous is the Jack the Ripper walk, one of the guides for which is Donald Rumbelow. Internationally renowned as the world’s leading expert on Jack the Ripper, Donald was the man Johnny Depp turned to when researching the Ripper for his film, From Hell. Too bad he didn’t pay as much attention to the accent. Think about it though, by shaking this man’s hand, you’ve almost touched Jack Sparrow.

Time please: The George Inn is London's last remaining galleried inn

I haven’t done the Ripper walk, but I have done several others and I’ve never been disappointed. I met an American couple on the Along the Thames Pub Walk. They were on their third trip to London and they told me they made a point of doing at least one walk every time. I saw them the next day in Greenwich, small world. London Walks’ guides are knowledgeable and entertaining. These are people that clearly enjoy what they’re doing. Graham of the Ghosts of the Old City Walk really warmed to his subject on a darkening winter’s night. It wasn’t just a walk, it was performance.

And for the less lively of you out there, don’t let the word ‘walk’ put you off. Leisurely stroll with plenty of breaks would be more accurate, just not as punchy.

London Walks

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