We walked a little bit further out of the centre, but not too far, and arrived in Whitechapel (or Jack the Ripper infamy) – a run-down street with low-end shops that was not surprising given Whitechapel is only the second place on the monopoly board. There was, however, a cool park (Altab Ali Park) which – like many London parks/squares – looked slightly out-of-place. It had benches, sculptures and a skate park made of big boulders and a fantastic arch over the entrance.
Some of the blogs I read before doing this walk made Vine Street out to be a very pretty little street, so I had high expectations. However, it was rather disappointing – quite plain, with a few old buildings and a couple of moderner ones. The nicest part was, perhaps, the bar that was set back a bit from the street and had a covered, tree-enclosed, patio in front, full of Londoners enjoying what looked like a rather liquid working lunch.
Fenchurch Street station
Onto the third of the four stations on the monopoly board and to a part of London we had visited briefly in the past but not from this direction. It was surprisingly beautiful, although since reading ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ trilogy always reminds me of the character, Fenchurch.
Walking under the railway bridge, we continued down a wide street to the Tower of London (i.e. Jail), and were stunned by the incredible views we had of it coming from that direction. We were able to enjoy the views further because we discovered a viewing area where we sat and rested our tiring feet, drinking a cup of tea (Mum) and coffee (me) that we had bought from a nearby van, and enjoying the gentle, mystic music made by a man who sat on the wall, playing a strange steel drum called a Hang (pronounced ‘Hung’ – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hang_(instrument)). It felt incredibly spiritual sitting near a huge sundial, overlooking such an historic building, listening to such a peaceful sound. It was even better when it started raining and all the tourists disappeared! (Although, at this point, the man packed up his Hang. He sat on the bench next to us and Mum asked him about the instrument.)
Old Kent Road
Feeling refreshed, we began our longest stretch so far, which took us initially over Tower Bridge, the first time I had ever used this bridge. There were some lovely views over the city, and it was a good bridge for lots of stopping as the walk across is broken up and it feels almost enclosed.
We continued along this road for some time, then came to a subway, which at that time we did not need to use, and turned onto Old Kent Road. Lots of blocks of flats and a big Lidl: we snapped the first road sign we saw and headed back to negotiate the huge subway, eventually ending up on the road we wanted.
Our route onto Fleet Street took us through Borough (a much needed loo and tea and cake break), then across Blackfriar’s Bridge, until we were very much back in the London we knew. Modern day Fleet Street is very much associated with law and as we walked down it there were many alleys heading off into the Temple area of London.
Fleet Street then met Strand, where the Royal Courts of Justice are situated (another one of my favourite buildings in London) and we called this our ‘Go to Jail’ stop. There is a lovely café opposite the courts which serves a variety of fresh juices and a lovely selection of leaf teas, but we did not stop on this occasion.
Finally, we reached Bow Street, on the edge of Covent Garden, then went to find our hotel where we spent a relaxing evening with curry, wine, books and soaking our tired (and shoe-stained) feet, preparing ourselves for the rest of the walk the next day.