33 WALKS THROUGH LONDON THAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS by Nicola Perry
£17.99 (Emons Publishing) Review by Belinda Morris
Nicola Perry grew up in London and readily admits that the only walking she did back in the day was down well-trodden routes – home to school, home to park, home to markets… And her story is probably like those of many of us who grew up or lived in a city – you become very familiar with your own patch and rather blinkered when it comes to the other quarters. And it has to be said that London has a lot of quarters.
This book is great because it’s not just about telling you to visit this museum, or sample the macaroons in that patisserie – it actually urges you to walk the streets/sidewalks/towpaths and look around you. As well as pointing out hidden gem boutiques, galleries, public artworks and restaurants, Perry, a now-seasoned walker, offers circular walks that take in characterful streets and alleyways, architectural oddities, green spaces… As you explore the city on foot (and without haste, as is usual for most Londoners) she shares local insights, tips and anecdotes. A bit of culture here, a dollop of eccentricity there.
The book is divided into districts – Central, North, South, East and West London – with six or seven walks in each. All are titled to give a flavour of the experience (Anti-Establishment Walk, Rock ‘n’ Retire Walk, Artful Lunchtime Walk) and helpfully Perry gives the distance and suggests a time and/or day of the week to best enjoy it. Every walk comes with a clear map, with starting point and how to get there by public transport and numbered places of interest along the way.
And of course there are photos of the key places to look out for en route. I particularly like that the homes of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are pinpointed on the ‘Queen & Country Walk’ in Chelsea, and by way of contrast (or not?) Hoxton Street Monster Supplies (Bespoke & Everyday Items for the Living, Dead or Undead’) on the ‘East End Market Lovers’ Walk’.
It’s a lovely book – the vibrancy, energy and diversity of the capital leaps from the pages. I’m feeling the urge to buy some walking boots.