For a nice, easy, 50-ish minute walk that takes in the Royal centre of London this is the walk for you. Starting at St James’s Park you’ll take in Buckingham Palace, Horseguards Parade, St James’s Palace and finally end up in Mayfair via Green Park – what could be better? Exactly.
Start at St James’s station, end at Green Park station – time walking 55 minutes.
Travel to St James’s Park station, emerge via the Broadway Mall to take in a bit of old skool art deco sleekness
Once outside make sure you turn around and look up at the building you’ve just exited – this is the headquarters of The London Underground (for now) and at the time of opening was the tallest building in the city. Although the public liked it they did not like the sculptures of Day and Night – Night is in the image below but I couldn’t possibly put Day on this site as he has his willy out (which had to be shortened as the public thought it too big). Prudes.
Onwards onto St James’s Park via the rather lovely St Anne’s Gate and over Birdcage Walk, so called as it used to contain the Royal Menagerie and Aviary which were located there in the reign of King James I.
Once inside St James’s Park make sure you pass over the bridge for two of the most smashing views in London, to the left Buckingham Palace and to the right a Disneyesque vista of Horseguards Parade, the old Courts and the London Eye. All that’s missing is Mickey Mouse, although that would be a little weird.
The St James’s area is named after a Leper Hospital that in turn was dedicated to St James the Less (lucky boy!). In addition to the Royal Aviary, during James I reign the park was also home to camels, crocodiles and an elephant! Fun fact – it’s now, as much of St James’s, still lit with Victorian gas street lights. Ok, not so much fun, but still fact.
Keep walking past the lake and the deckchairs onto Horseguards Parade where the Queen looks at soldiers and horses on her birthday.
Then go through the arch in the middle to see some rather splendidly dressed men with long flowing blond hair poking out the top of their hats, Kylie Minogue style. These guys are the Queen’s Life Guards and are part of the Household Cavalry (and in need of some conditioner).
Ok, turn left now and up Whitehall, London’s administration centre, and onto the big phallus with the little man on it, Nelson’s Column. Built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Fun fact: the pedestal is decorated with 4 metal reliefs – these were made from captured French guns. Ok, so not such a fun fact if you’re French.
Walk through the square and past the National Gallery on your left to the National Portrait Gallery and then head up to the top for a perfect pitstop bar with fab views over London towards Big Ben. You could always take in some of the art too if you have time 😉
Once you’ve downed you wine head back through the square and take a glance to your left before you reach Admiralty Arch – this unremarkable roundabout is actually home to the centre of London and where all distances are marked out to. So next time you’re on the motorway and it says 178 miles to London, it’s to this exact point. Go on, you know you want to stand on it!
Now, through the Admiralty Arch which used to be the residence of the First Sea Lord (nice title!!) which once upon a time was Winston Churchill.
You’ve now made it onto The Mall which was originally a field to play Pall Mall, an old ball game, but we’re not walking all the way down. Instead turn right when you see another phallus with the grand old Duke of York on top, again a celebration of winning the French Revolution wars. It’s rumoured that the door at the bottom of the column is a gateway to an underground Citadel of tunnels linking military buildings. It’s just a rumour mind..as is speculation that Buck House has an underground tunnel to Paddington Station to whisk the Royal Family out of London if needed. Food for thought there!
Up the stairs (but not back down again – get it?!) and right down Pall Mall (more Monopoly) until you get to St James’s Palace.
This Palace was built where the leper hospital mentioned earlier used to stand. Built by Henry VIII and now home to fun loving Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie who live there with their Aunty Anne and these two lovely marching guards:
Ok, back onto The Mall now and there it is – Bucking Palace, official residence of Queen Liz 2!
It’s well knows she doesn’t like it here and instead prefers Windsor and Balmoral. Originally Buckingham House, home to the Duke of Buckingham, it became the home of Queen Charlotte in 1761 and was subsequently then known as The Queens house. Enlarged in the 19th Century it then became the official residence of Queen Victoria and all monarchs there after. You’ll know when Betty is in when you see this flag, The Royal Standard:
So once you’ve spotted the Queen it’s onto Green Park, which is quite green I suppose. It’s not got much in in in terms of lakes and memorials but it has got lots of lepers under foot as this is believed to have been their burial ground from the before mentioned St James’s leper hospital.
At the top of the park, cross over Piccadilly and onto Shepard Market where the May Fair used to be held, hence the name of the area as Mayfair. Good for another pit stop as it has plenty of places to choose from.
And then finally, if you have the funds and the want for one last (posh) tipple, then where better than The Ritz?
Once you’ve emptied your wallets on (but filled your bellies with) champagne and cucumber sandwiches, stumble across the road and down into Green Park for a soothing and warm tube ride back home for a nap.
Another walk done, how satisfied you must be! Now…what walk is next to plan? 😉