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London's Secret Walks

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London's Secret Walks by Chesters, Graeme; Watson, Jim, 9781909282933
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  • ISBN: 9781909282933 | 1909282936
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2/7/2018
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Walking makes a lot of sense in London, whether it’s for pleasure, exercise or simply to get from A to B. Although the city has a comprehensive public transport system, it’s also one of the world’s most expensive and very crowded, so walking is often the quickest and most enjoyable way to get around – at least in the centre – and it’s also free and healthy! London’s reputation for rain is largely unfounded – it actually enjoys lower annual rainfall than New York, Rome and Sydney – and is rarely too hot or too cold to make walking uncomfortable (but take your brolly just in case).

London has a somewhat haphazard street pattern (to put it mildly), the result of having grown organically over 2,000 years, rather than being planned logically like some modern cities. As a result, many attractions are off the beaten track, away from the major thoroughfares and public transport hubs. This favours walking as the best way to explore them, as does the fact that London is a visually interesting city with a wealth of stimulating sights between destinations; you don’t see a lot from the seat of a cab or bus – and see nothing at all when cocooned in a tube train!

The starting point for this book was Samuel Johnson’s advice to his friend Boswell in the 18th century, on the occasion of the latter’s arrival in London: “survey its innumerable little lanes and courts.” By extension, wander off the beaten tourist track and you’ll find a world of fascinating sights, as you would expect in a city as large and old as London. My aim was to compile a list of these hidden attractions and construct walks around them – which resulted in the 25 walks contained in this book.

Most of the walks can be done in half a day or less, depending, of course, on how quickly you walk and how long you spend at the highlighted sights, particularly the pubs and restaurants. The walks don’t always follow the most logical route, but that’s deliberate and part of the fun: the aim is to maximise enjoyment and provide a flavour of the area, rather than to get from the start to finish as quickly as possible.

Writing this book has been a fascinating, educational and enjoyable journey, which has had the added bonus of returning me to the weight I was when I got married (16 years ago). I hope you find the walks as engaging, rewarding and stomach-flattening as I have.

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