The Queen Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace
Destinations, England, Europe, Travel

An Afternoon Walk Around London

Late one summer afternoon we go for a walk around central London to show the kids some of its famous sights. Explore London on foot.

We catch the tube to Green Park tube station and arrive at Green Park just as the Vitality Health Festival seems to be winding down and vendors are packing up their stalls.


Figuring out Tube Maps for the London Underground
Figuring out Tube Maps for the London Underground

As we pass through the Green Park, Nick gets the chance to answer a Guinness Book of World Records question in a game show and wins himself a book of game world records.

Green Park, London
Green Park, London

Our walk around London takes us to Buckingham Palace where we sit on the steps of the Queen Victoria statue in front of the palace to take in the spectacular view of the Queen’s official residence.

Green Park London
Waiting in line to fill our water bottle at the water fountain in Green Park. London

Following the examples of our many fellow tourists gathered around the statue and palace, we take the required amount of photos and selfies before strolling to Nick’s favorite place in London, St James’s Park.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
The Queen Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace
At The Queen Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace on our way to St James’s Park.
At the Queen Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace
At the Queen Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace

I’ve been to London a few times before and we’ve seen and been to all the must-see attractions but I didn’t know about this lush green haven or expected to find it in the heart of London.

Play park at St James's Park
Play park at St James’s Park
Watching birds at St James's Park
Watching birds at St James’s Park

There’s a good play park where the kids hang out for a while before we drag them away with a bribe of ice creams.  There are kiosks and loungers are set out all over the greens for public use.  It’s clean and well kept.  People are chilling in the sun and there’s a fun relaxed vibe about the place that makes us want to stay longer.

View of London from St James Park bridge
View of London from St James Park bridge

In the middle of the park is St James’s Lake, which means that there are many birds on its shaded grassy banks.  More than once we stop to watch the mother swan with her hatchlings, the black swan, the cormorant and all the other waterfowl with their newly hatched chicks all along the river as we meander through the park towards Horse Guards Parade. We pass through Horse Guards where we watch the guards on duty vigorously marching up and down the section they have to patrol.

Follow the Diana Princess of Wales Walk
Follow the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk from St James’s Park.

Moving on down Whitehall street with Trafalgar Square just behind us we show the kids 10 Downing Street and Westminster Abbey.

War Memorial at Horse Guards Parade
War Memorial at Horse Guards Parade

Number 10 is a Grade 1 listed Georgian building, the official residence of the Prime Minister, currently Theresa May, and the headquarters of the Government of the United Kingdom.

West Minster Abbey is a royal protestant church, which hosts daily services open to all.  It has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of 17 monarchs. The church as it is today was begun by Henry III in 1245. It’s one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country and has the medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint at its heart.

Whitehall Street, London
70 Whitehall Street, Cabinet Office, London

From the abbey, we turn towards Westminster Palace and Big Ben. The clock tower is officially called Elizabeth Tower, but the Great Clock and the tower together are famously known as Big Ben.  We couldn’t see Big Ben because it’s been under construction since August 2017 and it will be until about 2021.

This part of our walk is the part I enjoyed the least because of the crowds between Westminster Abbey and Westminster Bridge.  We hold onto the kids tightly as we push through the should-to-shoulder crowd of tourists and I’m glad we’re only passing through and not spending a minute longer here.  We really don’t like heavy crowds.

View from Westminster Pier
View from Westminster Pier

At Westminster Pier, we stop to enjoy the view of the river Thames, Westminster Bridge, the London Eye and the city of London with tuk-tuks lined up behind us.

This is the exact same image of the 1000 piece puzzle we bought Leah last year.  We built that puzzle with her as a family more than once.  We’re quick to remind each other and then argue over which pieces of the puzzle we remember building as we recognise the same passenger boats, rooftops, tricky chimneys and windows from the puzzle.  She takes a moment to appreciate the fact that she finally gets to stand in the actual far-away place that she saw in her beautiful puzzle of London.

Westminster Tube Station
Westminster Tube Station.  You can see Big Ben under construction in the background.

Our walk ends here where we take the tube back to our apartment near Chelsea from Westminster Tube station.  We spent about 3 to 4 hrs exploring London on foot.  On the way home, we have dinner at Nando’s and have the kids in bed before 10 pm.

The sun goes down at about 10 pm in the summer here so you really can make the most of your time sightseeing on long summer days in England.

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