London Walks

Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 03:39 PM
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London Walks


I'm leaving for London in a couple of weeks (on April 3rd) and am considering doing a couple of walking tours with London Walks. I had a few of questions I was hoping people here would be able to answer though =).

1) Is it worth doing a walk or would it be better to do things on my own?

2) How many people are typically on a walk?

3) Are the Explorer Days worth doing or should I do day trips on my own? (I was considering the Oxford and Cotswolds trip.)

4) How much of a discount does the company get you on admission to sights like Westminster Abbey or the Cabinet War rooms?

If anyone could tell me their experiences, it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!
jeesun is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 04:26 PM
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I have heard nothing but good things about their walks and also about the day trips.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 06:26 PM
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I love most of the London Walks.

Some partial answers to your questions:

1. walk/or do on own? Both. Walk around on your own as much as you can. London is a great walking city - something to see on almost every corner and very fun walking. Take London Walks for areas you're especially eager to hear details about. There are discounts for multiple walks - take advantage of that.

2. # people? It depends. I've been on London Walks with as few as 8 people; and I've had the huge misfortune of being on "Donald's" Jack the Ripper walk when it was being filmed for the Discovery Channel (I think) - over 400 hundred people, and they split us up between Donald and another guide. (Don't get me wrong, Donald is a GREAT guide...I also took his Jack the Ripper Walk before it got so famous. There were 10-15 people on it, and it was a wonderful walk. But, in my opinion, it's gotten too big - and many of the locations are no longer atmospheric. For instance, now you stand in a parking lot and talk about some of the used to be a small square, dimly lit.) Except for that awful experience, I'd guess that most walks I've been on have had around 15-25 people.

3. Explorer Days? Haven't done one.

4. Discounts? Honestly, I don't know about this either. I've taken more of the walks that stay outside or go through places with no entrance fee.

My absolute favorite walk was one that took us through a number of small squares, and to an old mews, and places like that. Hidden Westminster, perhaps? I can't remember off the top of my head.

I've never been to London and NOT taken a walk with London Walks. They're great. (But, please, avoid Graham on the "Ghosts" tour - he's an ex-banker and he only talked about banking!)

Enjoy your trip!

leonberger is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 06:28 PM
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OH! I remembered. I think that wonderful walk was "Secret London" (or similar) - it definitely included a private rooftop garden.

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Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 06:57 PM
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I took the Jack the Ripper tour in the day time and it was not interesting altho' the guide was good (I think it was Donald); might have been better at night but as mentioned above, the landmarks are gone.

I did take a London Walks tour to Windsor Castle/Eton and it was terrific. Stayed longer (at no additional cost), listened to evensong at the chapel at Windsor and had dinner. Your train ticket is not timed.

As far as doing it on your own, I took a couple of Rick Steves' London book trips. Worked great and I could go as I pleased.

Check out London walking tours on Fodors by entering same in the search function. Ben has some great walking tours.
nancy is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 02:18 AM
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You can also get various guidebooks for self-guided walks in many bookshops - any branch of Books Etc, Borders or Waterstones is likely to have a section of London books, including walks as well as maps, history and picture books.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 05:58 AM
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Agree with doing both - on your own and London Walks. I have done about 5 in London and 2 one-day trips and all have been great and incredible value for money. You also see and are told about things it would be difficult to find out on your own - e.g the day trip to Oxford and the Cotswolds included entry into some of the Oxford colleges which would have been difficult to get into otherwise I suspect and we saw the garden which may have inspired Tolkein's books - wonderful stuff even if not a fan of his. The all day trips incl discount train tickets and generally some free time too. Could not recommend highly enough.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:08 AM
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In 5 walks, the smallest London Walk I have been on was around 35 people. Haunted London was around 70. The Ripper Tour had two guides - one guide had about 70, Donald (the big name) had close to 300.

Those tours were in March and April. I've no idea what they are like in high season.

Keith is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:21 AM
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1) Do both
2) Depends on tour and time and season
3) The Explorer days are some of the least expensive and best reviewed (on this board) day trips you can do. The Oxford & Cotswolds I think is one that gets especially high marks here (vs. it's competition) IF you have to do it in one day. But Oxford is a city and the Cotswolds are pretty spread out, so you're only getting a peek. Many feel is't not a good idea to attempt the Cotswolds as part of a day trip, esp. combined with something else.

It's difficult to see the Cotswolds w/o a car so if you're not prepared to rent one and drive, it's either this tour or another co. or a private guide.

Here's another thread with more opinions on this

4) Don't know.
mclaurie is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:30 AM
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Another thumbs up for the Walks -- I took the 'Thames Pub Crawl' and the 'Greenwich' walks, and really enjoyed myself. The hosts are usually history students or professors, so know wherefore they speak.

The ones I went on had about 20-25 people, and I could hear everyone fine. I know they got us a discount on the ferry ride to Greenwich, but that's the only 'admission' they had on mine. Haven't gone on any Explorer Days.

It was a nice way to meet folks. My DH doesn't walk much (bad knees) so he gave a pass on these, and I met some interesting folk
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 12:48 PM
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I went on two Original London Walks walks. One was a Beatles walk (got to see Carnaby Street and Abbey Road) and the other was Jewish London (got to see the historic Bevis-Marks synagogue). Both were great.
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Old Mar 27th, 2006, 01:40 PM
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I live in London and go on the walks from time to time. They are very good and for the price (£5-7??) you can walk away at any point and not feel too bad. (Just tell your guide that you're going!!)
I've done there of the pub walks. Two were great (Hampstead and Belgravia) and one that was bad (Knightsbridge??).
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