I enjoyed some time off from my day-job yesterday and remembered the merits of working for myself. That is, the freedom to wander and work from wherever I please. On this particular day, that took me on one of the best of London secret walks, along the Thames path around Bermondsey. Lovely!
Not that I didn’t miss my work friends, on the contrary, they don’t realize how much I value them. As any independent contractor or remote worker will verify, working on your own all the time can be a lonely business.
I’ve never had the chance to really indulge in this kind of down-time in London though. Usually, if I had time off it was because I was chasing employment or contracts, and I never allowed myself to chill out and explore!
But with a pay-cheque coming in, this time I was happy to indulge in the surprises of London’s beautiful old back streets without any worries. Speaking of which, as we bid farewell to 2023 — a year of coronation celebrations and Superloop introductions — we’re embracing what 2024 has in store for us in London.
London secret walks – Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge
Yesterday was a crisp winter/spring cross-over day, where the sun was shining brightly.
It was chilly but divine; ideal for taking a stroll along one of the best London secret walks.
Charles Dickens describes such a day perfectly in Great Expectations:
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
Thames Walk: London Secret Walks
What I wanted to share with you, is my favourite thing to do in London when I have a spare bit of sunlight – the Thames path walk around Bermondsey.
London secret walks – the Thames path
This section of the Thames path walk weaves its way around the back streets of zone one (the city), along the water and into central London where Tower Bridge dominates the landscape, as it has done for around 130 years.
Our friends Barry and Paulo introduced us to this vibrant area and secret London walk. Many of the great London secret walks can be had around Bermondsey, Southwark, from London Bridge, around Southbank, and across Tower Bridge to the extraordinary Tower of London or lovely St Katharine Docks.
I recently worked out that my favourite wander of them all is accessible via the London Overground (train) from where I jump on at Dalston Junction. It’s just a 12-minute ride up the line to Rotherhithe. From here, you are only a fifteen to twenty-minute walk away from Tower Bridge, but a world of magical experience from the tourist grind.
Thames Walk London Tower Bridge Shard Sunset
London Secret Walks, my route along the Thames path, begin at Rotherhithe. Head to the Overground (orange line) station of Rotherhithe in East London.
No, I still can’t pronounce it, but it’s now one of my free-time go-to destinations.
Turn left out of the station, and then left again immediately at the first street, Railway Avenue (next to the station). It’s just a short walk to the end of this street, where you’ll end up right on the Thames, and on the doorstep of the fascinating Brunel Museum.
Last summer when we passed by here, the tunnel was open underground, and we crawled down a man-hole to below the street where there was a fab light-show art installation being exhibited!
Walk along the riverside – just head towards the bridge! My Google map above might help you out (start at the blue star and follow the red markers into the city). Essentially you can explore what is called ‘The Thames Path’ which travels past some terrific old buildings. This includes what I understand is the oldest pub on the Thames, the Mayflower.
Apparently, to avoid paying mooring taxes, Captain Christopher Jones tied his ship up alongside this pub, and people boarded here before the Mayflower sailed to Plymouth to pick up the remaining passengers and then continued on its historic voyage to America in 1620.
There’s always been surprisingly few people down this part of the world when we’ve dropped by. We’ve taken many visiting friends on this walk because it’s historical and pretty.
Serenity in Central London
Who would have thought you could experience such nostalgia in a peaceful setting in central London? This was the first chance I had to walk it on my own, and as haunting church bells rang out from St Mary’s, I couldn’t help but think about all the lives that had passed here before me.
Perhaps if I close my eyes, I could be transported to any space in time when this place was bustling with trade, markets, sailors, religious folk mingling on the church’s steps, and kids in newsboy caps and scruffy neck-scarfs running barefoot in the street. Just imagine what it might have been like…
Water laps against the old buildings, crows cry out, and seagulls squawk, but the sound of tourist chatter is nil. Every now and then the warehouse conversions open up to vast and amazing viewing spaces, like the spot just past a pub by the name of Angel, which is opposite ruins of King Edward’s manor.
Here you can gaze up and down the Thames, with all of London’s famous landmarks in sight. It’s breath-taking whether the sun is out or not (though it can be windy and a bit chilly on a cloudy day).
Thames Walk London City View Cityscape
You can’t really get lost at this point, because while there’s construction going on, you just need to walk adjacent to the water. Follow the Thames Path signs towards Butlers Wharf; there’s an underpass where eventually you will find more people congregating around Tower Bridge.
I like to stop and people-watch from a perch at All Bar One (free WiFi and yummy tapas here too). But you can easily continue meandering along to the bridge and then across towards the Tower of London.
The experience is ‘secret London’ at its best, and I feel so privileged and grateful to have the chance to get to know this energising old city intimately.
Quieter Walk Along the Other Way from Rotherhithe
If you want to take a look at this area but would prefer to hang out in a quieter spot rather than walking towards the city, we discovered a lovely large and comfortable pub that’s about a five-minute walk from Rotherhithe station. Turn left and go directly down Salter Road until you come to the Thameside YHA.
Across the road from there, positioned on a nice patch of land by the water is The Salt Quay, a good place to eat, chat, blog and soak up some atmosphere. We had a good old gossip with Jordan Lea and Rachael at this very place last summer.
2024 Updates: Embracing New London Walks and Challenges
As we step into 2024, it’s exhilarating to see new trends and opportunities for walking enthusiasts in London. Embrace the London secret walks and discover even more about this wonderful city.
Guide Dogs Sculpture Trail in Canary Wharf (March 2024)
This spring, don’t miss the Guide Dogs sculpture trail in Canary Wharf, featuring stunning guide dog sculptures by various artists. It’s a fantastic way to explore London’s art scene while enjoying a leisurely walk.
Walk 2024km Challenge
For those looking for a more ambitious challenge, why not aim to walk 2024km this year? It’s a great way to stay fit, explore new areas, and contribute positively to our environment.
Nature Notes (iOS Only)
Take the time to appreciate and note the beauty of nature on your walks. It’s a wonderful way to enhance your wellbeing and connect with the environment.
Personal Walking Challenges: Embrace London Walks
Customise your walking experience with a challenge that suits your style. Dive into the world of London Walks by choosing a step, distance, or time-based challenge.
This is your opportunity to uncover the diverse array of Hidden London tours. Make 2024 a year to walk more and discover the secret corners and treasures of London. Every step you take is a chance to experience something new and extraordinary in the city’s unique and lesser-known paths.
Exploring London’s Evolving Landscape
In 2024, London continues to evolve, offering an array of experiences that enrich our walks. The city’s dynamic changes not only reflect its history but also its commitment to a sustainable and inclusive future. Each step along these London secret walks is a journey through time and imagination.
Energy Revolution Gallery at the Science Museum (Spring 2024)
For those who intertwine their walks with a touch of educational enrichment, the upcoming Energy Revolution Gallery at the Science Museum is a must-visit. This space, dedicated to the climate crisis, offers insights into how we can pivot towards greener energy sources. It’s an inspiring addition for anyone interested in environmental sustainability and the future of our planet.
The British Science Festival at UEL (September 2024)
Another exciting event in 2024 is the British Science Festival, returning to London after over two decades. This festival, hosted by the University of East London, is an excellent opportunity for science lovers to engage with innovative ideas and discoveries. It’s a perfect blend of education and leisure for those who love to combine their intellectual interests with their walking adventures.
Living in and Loving London: Embracing the Journey
In 2024, let’s walk not just for the sake of exploration but for the stories we will tell, the people we will meet, and the memories we will cherish. London is a city of endless surprises, and each walk is an opportunity to uncover something new.
So, lace up your walking shoes, step out the door, and let’s make 2024 a year of unforgettable walks and discoveries.
Let’s build a community of walkers who not only seek the beauty of London secret walks but also engage actively with the city’s evolving narrative. Your stories and insights are what make this journey so enriching for all of us.
Do you have a favourite walk in London? Please do share in the comments so we and other readers can check it out! Your insights always add such richness to our community’s experience.