Playing tour guide when I have friends or family visit is always a treat. A few weeks ago I hosted my friend Sasha from Canada. It was a little bit of a last minute trip but it was so nice to get a dose of home. It is coming up to two years since I’ve last been on Canadian soil and needless to say I am looking forward to my upcoming visit in June.
I first did this walk in 2010, right after the Icelandic volcano grounded travel for a few days. Since then I’ve brought guests on this route because it hits a lot of the iconic London sights. Here is the run down of my recent tour through Green Park to Southbank.
Start: Green Park Tube
On the approach to Buckingham Palace you will come across two Canadian landmarks, Canada gate and Canada Memorial. The gate forms part of the city’s Queen Victoria Memorial scheme. The Canada Memorial erected in 1992, behind the gate, is a tribute to the 113,663 members of the Canadian Forces killed during the First and Second World Wars. The memorial is an understated sculpture but juxtaposed with the grand black and gold gate the two are a good pairing.
We continued on to Buckingham Palace to catch the Changing of the Guard. I’ve seen the changing a few times now but this time in particular was slightly disappointing because most of the action was happening on the other side from where we were stood.
Also, they didn’t have their red coats on so it was decidedly less flashier than it tends to be. After the pomp and circumstance was over we lingered to take pictures of the Victoria Memorial which was brilliantly shining in the sun.
Next: St James’s Park
London is awash in cherry blossoms everywhere. As we strolled through St James gorgeous scenes were created in the shadows of the blossoms. You can also get a good view of the London Eye here and the back of Horse’s Guard Parade. We lingered to catch the myriad of bird life and also spied a pelican resting in the shade.
Emerging at the other side of the park we walked into horses guard parade, the Calvary Museum is also housed here. They were still changing their guards so we were able to catch them very close up. This area is a great way to get some close shots if you missed them during the changing of the guard by the palace.
Next: Parliament Square
Heading south towards parliament square Big Ben comes into view. The square is pristine and this is actually one of the few times that I had seen it without people camping in tents. A popular place for protest a few years ago everyone was cleared away.
We veered off to see Westminster Abbey closer up. I’ve not yet been inside and will go some day but the front facade of the building is spectacular. Donned with 20 modern martyrs Martin Luther King Jr is there in the middle.
End: South bank
Turning back towards parliament square we cross the Thames and head to Southbank. Passing by the London Eye much closer up Sasha declares she has no desire to get on it during her trip so we admire it from the ground. Finally getting through the thick crowd that inevitably mills around the bank we head behind the Southbank Centre to grab a meal at the Real Food Market.
There is an amazing variety of food here from all over the world and closer to home. Even if you aren’t doing the walk and just heading to Southbank for the day you must pay the market a visit. We walk around and stop at a specialty tea stall and purchase a yummy blend of citrus ginger. I must admit the pot the tea was steeping in was my initial draw but the sample was lovely and sold us.
I’d recommend giving yourself a good leisurely 2-3 hours to cover this walk not counting stopping for tea or a meal. If you want to extend the walk then you can start off at Hyde Park corner as this is the official starting point for the walk.