July 15, 2016. It’s always been a great walking city. Four years ago, it was a great Olympic running, jumping, swimming and swinging city. Of course, they ran the 26.2-mile marathon here. In a little over 2 hours. If we start today, we’ll beat them all. Let the Walking & Eating Begin!
This is a Walk in four events. With breakfast, lunch and dinner intermissions. Do the whole thing and you’ll cover more than 26 miles (42km). A wonderful twelve-hour Walk through the parks, over the bridges and along the Thames and around the circuses. Past Big Ben and the Tower of London. Out to the brand new Olympic Stadium. Burn more than 4,000 calories. Way more than you’ll eat. But you’ll eat well. Let the Walk Begin!
Parks and Gardens
Five miles (8km) around and through Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, the Buckingham Palace Gardens, Green Park and St. James Park. Two hours. 600 calories burned. But first things first.
Breakfast. Which you might have at one of London’s many Farmers Markets. The Pimlico Market to the south of our starting point at Hyde Park Corner. The Marylebone Farmers Market to the north. Click to see the big, detailed Google Walking Map I made for you. It pinpoints all the markets and restaurants along the Way.
If you go to market, you might have some Cheddar or Caerphily from Alham Wood Cheeses with a walnut-raisin bread from Exeter Street Bakery and a pear or apple from Chegworth Valley Juices. Less than 400 calories.
Which isn’t always the case at Leon, a small chain of restaurants serving a variety of “organic porridges”. A very substantial portion of the blueberry & honey oatmeal will give you 444 calories to burn. The banana oatmeal with Mexican chocolate flakes and orange blossom honey is good for 542. The grilled egg, mushroom and cheddar sandwich on whole wheat is just 372.
Any one of which will energize your walk across this patchwork of parks and gardens that extends from the west all the Way to the River Thames at Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and the thousand-year old Westminster Abbey.
For your second event, you’ll walk across water and head north to the London Eye, the enormous Ferris wheel that will take you more than 400′ above water. I’m sure the views are spectacular up there, but they’re pretty great down at river level, too. Walk on the river’s edge for a little more than 3 miles (5km) to the Tower Bridge. Along the Way: Royal Festival Hall, the Tate Modern museum, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Then cross back to the North Bank and the Tower of London, the 900-year old fortified castle. If I weren’t walking 20 miles today, I’d stop here to absorb centuries of fascinating history. But keep going, a few hundred meters inland, then about a mile to St. Paul’s Cathedral and its Churchyard. Then back to the river and a beautiful two miles along the Victoria Embankment. Past the massive old government buildings to the point directly across from The Eye.
Events One and Two have brought you 12 miles (19km) and burned nearly 1,500 calories in four to five hours. Now you’re down about one thousand, even if you started the day with the banana-chocolate porridge. Check my Google Map for lunch options ranging from the definitive version of fish & chips to an almost-too-cool oyster bar, great vegetarian, Thai, Pakistani and Malaysian.
Streets and Circuses
Your next eight miles burns about 1,000 calories in three tourist-action-packed hours. In one brisk afternoon, you go from Trafalgar Square through the West End theater district to the British Museum. Past the BBC Broadcasting House to Regents Park and the London Zoo.
Down Baker Street by the Sherlock Holmes Museum and across Portman Square. Along Park Lane and on to Grovesnor Square. Through Mayfair to Pall Mall and the Haymarket and finally to Picaddilly Circus. Where you’re in a good place and time to make the all-important decision: where to go for an early dinner. Don’t be shy. You’ve just burned more than 2,500 calories along the Way. When you do the math, you’ll probably burn nearly 4,000 for the full 24-hour day. Or you can have a snack, then go for the gold. C’mon, it’s London in July. There’s daylight until 10 in the evening.
The Final Stretch
To the Olympic complex and back. Through Weavers Fields and the Museum Gardens. Into Victoria Park and onward to the Olympic Greenway for an extreme close-up view of the Olympic Stadium. Now let the Serious Eating begin!
Princi is the very cool little Italian bakery in Soho. You could be happy with the ham & cheese ciabatta for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not to mention the pizza slices.
The Leon restaurants around town for a variety of “organic porridges” for breakfast. A very substantial portion of the blueberry & honey oatmeal will give you 444 calories to burn. The grilled egg, mushroom and cheddar sandwich on whole wheat is just 372.
Borough Market for some of Britain„ finest purveyors of cheeses, meats, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables. The Ginger Pig butcher„ stall for the warm sausage roll.
Food For Thought is a tiny vegetarian place in Covent Garden. The one with the line outside the door. The menu changes daily. The soup & salad and quiche & salad deals are remarkably Better and Cheaper lunches for London. Couscous for dinner.
According to local legend, The Golden Hind‘s fish & chips preparation is the definitive one. What do I know? Big, cheap portions.
It’s The Churchill Arms for big, cheap portions of stellar Thai food in what looks like a traditional London pub.
Champor Champor is a lovely little Malaysian place near the Tower Bridge. Just in case you need an early lunch break.
J Sheekey Oyster Bar for exceptionally good shellfish and clever vegetarian dishes in Covent Garden.
Yauatcha is the very hip place in Soho for superior dim sum. Everything is excellent. Downstairs for the dim sum and upstairs for the bakery.
Need To Know
Looking for a loo along the Way? Click for map of the city’s public bathrooms.
Click to see the big 3D Google Map I made for Walking & Eating your Way through London.
A bit out of the Way
Unless you go for a personal best and finish with the above-and-beyond Walk to the Olympic Stadium complex. In which case you deserve a serious snack at Tayyab’s for Better Cheaper delicious Pakistani/Indian.
Yes, Books for Cooks is a cookbook store in Notting Hill. But there’s a cafe-test kitchen in the back where they prepare a few things for lunch each day. Their favorite recipes from their favorite cookbooks. Slightly out of the Way but a terrifically enjoyable place for a low-cost, high-value lunch.