5 best London guided walks
A walking tour of London is one of the most rewarding ways to explore the city. But the capital's sheer scale and number of sights means that it can sometimes be overwhelming to navigate. A knowledgeable guide who knows the area well can bring the city's history and culture to life – and can help give context to the stops along the way. A handful of tour operators – both mainstream and independent – offer plenty of walking tours, from foodie jaunts to musical excursions.
Art History UK is offering a Hampstead: Making a Modern World walk which explores the lives and works of some of the most forward-thinking individuals of the last century who called Hampstead home: from John Keats and Sigmund Freud to Piet Mondrian and George Orwell. Led by cultural historian Andy McKay, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, this walking tour takes in Keat’s House, Constable House and Goldfinger’s House (all exterior only). June 9, 6.45-8pm with drinks from 6pm, from £30pp. Meeting point: Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR. Duration: 1 hour, 15 minutes. Art History UK (0207 602 3716; arthistoryuk.com).
Explore the streets of this ancient Georgian village on a walking tour
Music for kings
This Music for Kings walk run by Context Travel traces the footsteps of composer George Frideric Handel who spent most of his life in London in the 18th century. Led by music historian Ruth Shlovsky (may change) it takes in Mayfair and Piccadilly, with stops at some of the city’s most historic theatres and concert halls in addition to the churches and houses where Handel worked and lived. The walking tour visits Handel’s home, Burlington House, St George Hanover Square and Theatre Royal Haymarket, where the Messiah made its debut. Your guide will also discuss Handel’s complex relationship with his patrons and the differences between opera and oratorios, anthems and organ concertos as well as how Handel composed different works at various points of his life. Departures between January and December 2016, 10am-1pm, from £80pp. Duration: 3 hours. Context Travel (0203 514 1780; contexttravel.com).
Handel House Museum in Mayfair is dedicated to the life and work of the German-born composer
In the public eye
SideStory is a new website that allows you to book London walks led by insiders and creative professionals, including a Sotheby’s lecturer and the interiors editor-at-large at Wallpaper* magazine. The company has recently launched a new In the Public Eye walk. Led by artist and University of the Arts London lecturer Grace Adam, it explores the city’s public art, starting at the British Museum then on to Trafalgar Square for a stop at Hans Haacke’s ‘Gift Horse’ perched on the Fourth Plinth before wandering down to Piccadilly for a visit to the Royal Academy’s courtyard installations, ending at St James’s. Book any time, times vary, from £89pp (with 4 people). Duration: 3 hours. SideStory (020 3432 8187; sidestory.co).
Sophie Campbell, The Telegraph’s heritage columnist and a qualified Blue Badge guide leads this four-day London end-to-end walk by the Thames which starts in Hampton Court Palace and follows the sinews of the river until the Thames Barrier in Woolwich. Highlights include Strawberry Hill House, built in the 1740s by Horace Walpole, son of Robert Walpole, our first prime minister; Kew Palace, where George III spent summers with his wife and 15 children; Kelmscott House, residence of social philosopher William Morris for the last 18 years of his life; Painted Hall; and Brunel Museum. Departures between May and September, from £899pp including accommodation and evening meals with wine. Telegraph Tours (03330 059035; telegraph.co.uk/thameswalk).
Borough Market and beyond
Walk Eat Talk Eat’s SE1 and Borough Tour visits Borough Market and Maltby Street Market, passing landmark buildings including the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin and the Walkie Talkie. It takes in shops loved by locals, a gin distillery as well as a local pub. There’s also a chance to sample a mini English breakfast bap at St Katherine’s dock, scotch eggs and buttermilk waffles at Maltby Street Market, baked Camembert and local beer in a traditional pub – all finished off with a palate-cleansing gelato. Departures every Saturday between January and December 2016, 12-3.30pm, from £72pp including all meals. Meeting point: Tower Hill tube. Duration: 3.5 hours. Walk Eat Talk Eat (07709 449 742; walkeattalkeat.com).
Visit famed Borough Market as well as local favourite, Maltby Street Market