London: A Visitor’s Guide
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How long is the walk? A fraction under 3 miles
How long will the walk take? About 1 to 1½ hours. This is based on a leisurely 20-30 mins per mile, but you should add on more time if you plan on stopping at any of the places
Starting point: Get the Piccadilly line to Hyde Park Corner, or catch the 2, 9, 10, 14, 16, 19, 22, 36, 38, 52, 73, 74, 82, 137, 148, 414, 436 bus
This is a nice pleasant stroll with lots of benches and places to stop for a drink. Take your time, enjoy the waterside, and take in some distant views of London landmarks.
The walk begins outside Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner. This is where the Duke of Wellington used to live. He was one of our most famous Prime Ministers and led the allied armies to victory at the Battle of Waterloo.
As you walk into Hyde Park you will see a huge statue of Achilles up ahead, holding his shield high above his head (it seems a very strange place to have a giant statue of the Greek god!). Turn left and walk up the main path.
Along the way you should see the Hyde Park bandstand. It seems to be deserted most of the time, and you’ll be very lucky to see anybody play. Keep on going until you come to the Dell Restaurant.
If you follow the path around to the left then you will be entering an area known as ‘The Dell’.
Follow the path round to the right until you reach the man-made Serpentine lake, which cuts Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in two (the second half of the lake, over the bridge, is technically called ‘The Long Water’, but everyone knows it as the Serpentine). It was built in the early 18th-century for Queen Caroline, who used it for pleasure, birds and boating.
Follow the riverside path until you come to ‘The Lido’. This is our first tea-stop. You might like to think of this walk as a pub-crawl around the park – but with cups of tea instead of pints. The Lido has some nice seats outside where you can sit and sip your tea. There are also some toilets nearby if you need a wee-break.
The Serpentine Swimming Club hold their events here and you can probably see their swimming lanes marked out in the water.
The temperature is unbelievably cold (I’ve never tested it out, but I will take their word for it), but that doesn’t stop some fitness freaks gathering here for an early morning swim before work.
Before you reach the bridge you should be able to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain on your left. This controversial memorial is a bit like Marmite… you’ll either love it or hate it.
Cross over the central bridge here, and take in some great views of the lake. Then continue walking on the path to the north. You should pass a huge 6-metre tall stone sculpture by Henry Moore, called ‘The Arch’.
This path offers some good views of Kensington Palace, which is the red brick building way off in the distance. This rather understated palace was home to William III, Queen Victoria and Princess Diana.
Keep walking until you come to the ornate ‘Italian Gardens’, filled with benches, statues and water fountains. This was designed by Sir Christopher Wren as a pleasure garden, and is our second stop on our tea-crawl. You will find some refreshment stands and toilets here if you need another break. Then continue along the path and down the other side of the lake. You are now in Kensington Gardens.
The next statue you pass is one of London’s favourites – the ‘Peter Pan’ statue. The author JM Barrie used to live nearby and paid for the statue to appear overnight, as if by magic, and covered it in rabbits, squirrels, mice and fairies.
The path will take you back to the bridge again, so cross over and continue down the other side. This long walk will take you past the little shop and boat houses. If you’re feeling energetic then you can hire a little peddle boat here (summer months only), or ride around on the bigger passenger boat (summer months only).
You might like to check out our guide to outdoor events in London, to see if there’s anything worth doing in the park. You can also check for outdoor events in August, outdoor events in September and outdoor events in October.
At the end of the lake is our third and final tea-stop – the Dell Restaurant again. If you’ve held out until now then this is your last chance to get a cup.
If you take a diagonal right past the restaurant, then you should come to a large rock in the ground which is supposed to form the ‘Holocaust Memorial Garden’. It seems a little bit lazy to me… it’s just a big rock. It’s not much of a memorial.