Travel,  UK

Strolling the South Bank to a Cuppa

As I’ve been preparing for my upcoming holiday (One week until takeoff!), I’ve been going through the photos from my last trip to Europe in summer 2015. (What did I see, what did I miss?) Anf I came across the photos from a sunny walk around London that I absolutely loved. This is my South Bank stroll of London.

My Airbnb in 2015 was in a beautiful neighbourhood straddling Lambeth and Kennington, which leads on to the South Bank of the Thames from the Lambeth Walk. My good Edinburgh friend, Jim, travels to London a lot for work and had suggested an extension of my regular routine — with a few of his favourite stops — when I told him how much I love to walk along the South Bank. (And because he knows I am a long-time musical theatre geek. There’s a song called The Lambeth Walk from the musical Me and My Girl (1937) that was written about — you guessed it —Lambeth Walk. Needless to say, I had a little bounce in my step as I hummed my way along in my head. (The locals must have thought I was nuts.)

Jim also gave me a destination that was right up my alley: the 300-year-old historical Twinings London Flagship Store.  And so, from Lambeth to the Strand, this my South Bank stroll of London.

London walk 1

Get strolling on the South Bank

Should you not be staying near Lambeth (or not be inclined to whistle or hum the show tune as you make your way down the walk), and war history is your thing, a good starting point for this wander is the Imperial War Museum’s London branch (Tube Stop: Lambeth North). The Churchill War Rooms are housed here and the set of exhibits “tells the people’s experiences of modern war from WW1 to conflicts today”. Admission is free — a #GetThrifty bonus that you will find with most museums in the UK.

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From there, get your step on for a 30-40 minute walk along the South Bank.

Never mind Big Ben and Westminster (though they are spectacular). I love these lamp posts along the Thames because they have such fabulous expression and character. They are apparently based on the Fontana del Nettuno in Rome.

London walk 8
Expressive lamp posts on the South Bank.

While the lineup at the London Eye always deters me from experiencing it, I do love to photograph it. It’s also a good landmark for me if I ever feel a bit lost. This area is very touristy, but is a good spot to pick up some reasonably priced postcards or London-themed souvenirs from the street vendors.

The London Eye on the South Bank of London.
The London Eye on the South Bank of London.

As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset… errr day!

One of Jim’s instructions was for me to skip the Westminster and Jubilee Bridges, and though I’m quite partial to Westminster Bridge (the South Bank Lion makes my day), I listened and went to Waterloo Bridge. There’s a song by The Kinks called “Waterloo Sunset” that I was instructed to sing when I got there, but that was not happening. (Sorry, Jim!) Should you know the song, go for it.

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Destination reached!
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The view from the Waterloo Bridge.
South Bank London stroll to Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge selfie.

When you get across the bridge, you might want to stop at Somerset House to see one of the exhibits. When I was out and about, I was on a tea mission (and it was way too nice out!), but Somerset House is on my list for this next trip. It’s a beautiful building, as is the very impressive Australian High Commission. (My photo does not do it justice…)

Australian High Commission in London
The Australian High Commission in London.

Last stop, Twinings

If you’re like me and send a million postcards, the post office is en route to the Twinings shop and museum. Pop your postcards in the mailbox and walk thirty seconds up to enter a tea lover’s paradise – final destination: the Twinings London Flagship Store. Single tea bags? No sweat. Gift sets? Done. Make your own tea box or buy a fancy tea set? You’re in the right spot. The get thrifty portion of the day was officially over. I bought a lot of tea.

If you have willpower (clearly, I didn’t), initially ignore the things to purchase and march to the back to check out the museum portion of things and have a “cuppa” or tea tasting experience at the tasting bar. The classic Earl Grey is spot on.

Twinings Tea in London; at the end of a South Bank London stroll

I think I clocked about 25,000 steps that day. (At least!) Thank you to Jim for the suggested deviation from my usual Westminster Bridge stroll.

What’s your favourite stroll in your city or somewhere you’ve travelled?

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.

— C. S. Lewis

I’m incredibly excited to head back to London in June — this time on a girls’ trip with my besties. Some exciting things are lined up for this trip and I look forward to sharing our adventures! For more London tips, click here.

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