Walking Tour 1: Embankment, South Bank to Westminster
The map is based on Google Maps suggested walking route. Ignore right turn onto Victoria Embankment once you have crossed Westminster Bridge and take the more direct (straight) route to The Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster).
Distance: 3 km
Starting Point: Embankment Tube Station (which is on the Northern, Bakerloo, Circle and District lines). Exit Victoria Embankment/ Embankment Pier for the River Thames
Cross the River Thames using the Golden Jubilee Bridges to the right/ west of Embankment Station. There are two pedestrian bridges: use the western/ right hand side pedestrian bridge, that is, not the first set of stairs but go underneath the bridge and take the second set of stairs. You should see a green shed at the bottom of the steps.
Crossing this Golden Jubilee Bridge should give you a view of the River Thames, Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster, Elizabeth Tower with Big Ben) and the London Eye.
On the other side of the river walk back under the bridge but take the ramp up and at the end of the ramp take a right. You are at what is known as the Southbank Centre. Behind the Royal Festival Hall is the Southbank Centre Food Market with numerous food stalls with a variety of food styles at reasonable, value for money prices. To get here head to the steps near the bust (head) of Nelson Mandela and head down stairs to the left. Hope you’re hungry!
Meander your way through the market and at the opposite entrance of the food market on the western side of the Royal Festival Hall is the Bloody Oyster a pop restaurant housed in an old London double decker Routemaster bus. This is typically only here during the summer months. Indulge in the ‘Rock and Cock’ with £1 oysters and £5 cocktails typically between 3:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. on weekdays only.
As you walk back to the riverfront up two flights of stairs look for the yellow staircase to your right where at the bottom is the Southbank Skatepark. At the top of the yellow staircase is the Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden where you can buy a drink (or sneak in your own alcohol but be discreet) and admire the view of the River Thames (great at sunset).
From here walk west along the River Thames (river on your right) towards the London Eye. If you want to take a 30 minute ‘flight’ on the London Eye best to book ahead with standard tickets costing approximate £22 based on specific time and date and £27 for a flexi ticket (any day or time) or £31 for a jump-the-queue ticket. For all the options: https://www.londoneye.com/tickets-and-prices/. Is it time for a break to relax and reflect on the journey so far? Jubilee Gardens is on the River Thames and next door to the London Eye. Find a peaceful corner and watch the crowds wander by. More information can be found here: http://jubileegardens.org.uk/.
From the London Eye head to the next bridge that crosses over the River Thames: Westminster Bridge. This green bridge, same colour as the leather seats in the House of Commons, with its ornate lamp posts crosses over to the Houses of Parliament. If you take the steps for the western footpath which means crossing under the bridge before you exit the tunnel you’ll have a chance to take a photo of Elizabeth Clock Tower (Big Ben) from within the tunnel: a classic Instagram shot.
Climb the steps to the bridge deck and walk towards the Houses of Parliament. If interested tours to the Houses of Parliament happen every Saturday until 2 September 2017 and cost £25.50 and online bookings can be made here: https://visit.parliament.uk/HouseofParliament/shop/ViewItems.aspx?CG=GT&C=ENGT.
Security has increased in the area following the recent terrorist attack but don’t let this deter you from enjoying this part of London.
Nearby is Westminster Abbey, an important church in England’s history. A great representation of gothic perpendicular architecture but for me as an engineer I remember this abbey as the burial place of Sir Isaac Newton the father of gravity. His tomb was briefly depicted in the movie ‘The Da Vinci Code’. In poets corner famous poets have been buried or memorialised here like Chaucer, Shakespeare and Byron not to forget several kings and queens. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 09:30 A.M. with last entry at 3:30 P.M. weekdays and 1:30 P.M. on Saturday. It’s closed for worship on Sunday. You can book online tickets for £20.00 at: https://tickets.westminster-abbey.org/wagolive.com/home/maintain.aspx.
Walk back towards the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge to take the tube from Westminster (which is on the Circle, District and Jubilee Lines).