London Walks for Fair Weather or Foul

Sunset, November 1988 | Go to article overview

London Walks for Fair Weather or Foul


A London visit means unpredictable, often inclement weather that may call for flexibility in your sightseeing plans. But you don't have to settle for bus tours or taxis; by dodging into nearby hotels, pubs, shops, and museums when rain gets heavy, you can capture the diversity of this exciting city on foot.

Here, we outline two walks bisected by Piccadilly. They reveal an aristocratic London little changed and secure that it will outlast the 20th century. Both begin just outside the Green Park underground "tube" station. Combined, they can make a full day's outing.

Stroll in Mayfair

Allow about 1 1/2 hours (longer if you like to browse) to enjoy a delightful market area, fashionable old houses, and shops. Exit the tube station on the north side of Piccadilly. Follow our map to Curzon Street. Just past Half Moon Street, turn left to Shepherd Market.

Though its May Fair celebrations were known as a "nursery of evil" in the 18th century, Mayfair now presents a refined and sedate face to the world. Shepherd Market has curio and secondhand stores, delightful tiny pubs (no longer required to close after lunch), and sidewalk restaurants-all along Market Mews and Shepherd Street. On the way to the end of Charles Street, look on the Georgian row houses for the neat brass plaques that identify where Beau Brummell, Somerset Maugham, and King William IV lived.

In Hay's Mews, houses were originally stables for Berkeley Square mansions. Continue to the square, in whose houses with wrought-iron railings and gas lamps-Sir Winston Churchill (as a child) and Prime Minister William Pitt once lived. Cross the square for better views, (If time's short, take Berkeley Street back to Piccadilly) Bruton Street passes fur shops and art galleries on its way to Bond Street's shops of epic reputation. To the left is Sotheby's auction house. …

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