Posts Tagged ‘walks’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on December 24, 2009 at 7:11 am
Filed under: christmas, featuredarticle, walks

Christmas Day in London

I love Christmas Day in London. Everything’s closed; everybody is at home. The capital is deserted, and if it’s a frosty or snowy morning, it’s virgin white, untouched by footprints. (Though alas, it looks as if the snow is all gone now.) If you like solitude and moody atmosphere, it’s the one day of the year you can get that in the middle of London.

Quintessential London Christmas; dark brick, tall windows, railings, bare trees, snow.

Quintessential London Christmas; dark brick, tall windows, railings, bare trees, snow.

Some of my favourite places will be closed; the garden squares won’t be open, the Inns of Court will probably have their gates locked. But I might wander along the South Bank – I could go to the eleven o’clock service at St Paul’s [map], take the Millennium Bridge, past Cardinal’s Wharf and Bankside and the South Bank Centre, and then take Westminster Bridge back over the Thames in time for Evensong at Westminster Abbey[map] at three o’clock. That would make quite a special Christmas Day with the chance to hear two really marvellous choirs singing plenty of carols and other great music.

Or I could wander through the deserted City; the atmospheric Castle Court [map]tucked away behind the Royal Exchange, with its ancient Jamaica Wine House; the even more atmospheric churchyard of St Olaves Hart Street [map], with the skulls above the gateway; St Mary at Hill[map]  on its cobbled sloping street leading down to the Thames. Between the glassy skyscrapers and the 1960s concrete office blocks, these hidden, narrow alleyways with their Georgian houses and Wren churches, ancient pubs and tiny gardens, seem to come straight from Dickens’s time.

Feeling more sociable? Head for Hyde Park[map] or Hampstead Heath[map]. If the snow’s gone,  you won’t get the chance to go tobogganining, but you’ll be able to witness one of those mad sporting events we Brits are famous for – the Christmas morning swimming race in the Serpentine. It kicks off at nine o’clock sharp.  And if the Serpentine is iced over, don’t worry – they’ll break the ice.

There are a few restaurants open for Christmas lunch, but most of them are serving rather expensive lunches (quite a few at £200 upwards!) though many branches of Bella Italia and Strada will be open offering more modestly priced lunches.  I suspect you’ll probably need to book, though, so if you do want to go hiking around deserted London, pack a thermos flask of soup and some sarnies, or put your roast in the oven to have a nice hot meal waiting when you get home.

Photo by Paolo Camera on flickr

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