Walk 1570 - printer friendly version
Westminster to Green Park via St. Paul's Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 5.5 miles / 8.9 km
Ascent - 200 feet / 61 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference TQ302797
Lat 51.501249 + Long -0.12558467
Postcode SW1A 2JN (approx. location only)
This rather circuitous route provides the basis for an excellent walk in central London. Combining many of the sights, it offers a wide range of historical content, many interesting buildings and enables you to enjoy the essential 'atmosphere' of London. The start is Westminster underground Station (Grid ref. TQ302797). Exit the station onto the street and make your way onto Westminster Bridge. From here you will get some excellent views downstream towards the City of London, which will be visited later in the walk.
Cross the road using the pedestrian crossings to Big Ben and go right into Parliament Square. Cross the road and walk between Westminster Abbey and the smaller church of St. Margaret to the Abbey's west front with its twin towers. Diagonally across the road is the Methodist Central Hall with its impressive domed roof. To its immediate left is Tothill Street, which you need to follow to continue the walk. Walk along Tothill Street and take the second right, Dartmouth Street. At the end of this street, go down Cockpit Steps to reach Birdcage Walk and St. James's Park.
Cross Birdcage Walk and enter Green Park walking towards St. James's Park Lake. Turn left and follow the broad path along the southern shore (with the Lake on your right). Cross the lake by the footbridge and continue north to The Mall. This famous London thoroughfare runs from Buckingham Palace northeast to Trafalgar Square. Turn right along the Mall and continue under Admiralty Arch and you will see Trafalgar Square, which will be visited later in the walk.
Retrace your steps and turn left alongside the "Old Admiralty" and cross the large Horse Guards Parade Ground to Horse Guards. Walk through the arches passing the guards and horse guards in their ceremonial uniforms to exit onto Whitehall. Cross Whitehall and walk down Horseguards Avenue to the Embankment and the Thames. Cross the road and turn left to follow the River Thames downstream (i.e. the Thames on your right). You now follow the riverside path for just over a mile to the Millennium Footbridge. (Like most of the bridges over the Thames, it offers superb views up and down the river.)
Do not cross the river, instead turn left and climb the steps towards St. Paul's Cathedral. Turn left immediately in front of the Cathedral. If time permits it is worth walking all the way around St. Paul's so that you can fully appreciate its beauty. From the imposing west end, with its impressive flights of steps, walk west down Ludgate Hill. Continue straight ahead into Fleet Street, once home to many newspapers, and just before the Royal Courts of Justice note the Temple Bar memorial in the middle of the road. At this point you cross form the City of London into the City of Westminster and also leave Fleet Street for the Strand.
It is easier to stay on the south (left) side of Fleet Street passing the entrance to Somerset House on your left, the home of the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery. Reaching Charing Cross railway station you will see Charing Cross, a medieval cross from which all distances are measured from London to surrounding cities. Entering Trafalgar Square, use the pedestrian crossings to reach Nelson's Column. The National Gallery is located on the north side of the square and we need to head along Charing Cross Road at its right hand end. A short way north along Charing Cross Road turn left into Irving Street. This leads into Leicester Square, home to the most prestigious cinemas in Britain. Across the square is the Empire Cinema. To its left is Leicester Street, which is our next objective. At the top of Leicester Street turn left into Lisle Street, right into Wardour Street and first left into Gerrard Street. You are now in the heart of London's Chinatown. Walk down Gerrard Street. At the end bear right through Newport Place and down narrow Newport Court onto Charing Cross Road.
Turn left along Charing Cross Road to Cambridge Circus with the Palace Theatre on the left. Turn left here onto Shatfesbury Avenue, along which you will see many of London's theatres. Reaching Piccadilly Circus locate the diminutive monument of Eros, perhaps mingling with the crowds that seem to always congregate here. After enjoying the atmosphere around Eros, locate Piccadilly and walk southwest to reach the entrance to Green Park, which is on the left hand side of the street just after the Ritz Hotel. This is the end of the walk but after all the hustle and bustle of city streets you might like to enjoy a quiet stroll in Green Park.