London’s Hidden Walks

Stephen Millar has written three excellent books of London walks, published by Metro Publications.

The first volume contains thirteen walks, the second and third volumes twelve each. This keeps each book compact. Six volumes with half a dozen each would be better still, but clearly that would push up the price.

They really are good, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Most walks books, and this website, give information in an introduction, but keep the walk directions brief so you can keep moving. Stephen Millar takes the opposite approach, including a mass of detailed information within the walk itself.

This does mean you spend time standing on the pavement reading, and that on occasion the ‘turn right’ is buried in text, but it does work and you won’t have to remember the facts when you’re facing a place of interest. And Stephen Millar really has done his research: I've scoured a great heap of books for information for my walks, yet have still discovered new facts when following his walks, where our routes overlap.

There's a plethora of pictures, some full page but most very small, to help you identify the places you're looking at.

It's inevitable in a large city that you'll pass through some places which are unattractive or plain dull, but Millar has a nose for finding the best way through to maintain interest. Incidentally, these uninteresting places tend to be east and north of the City of London, and not so frequent to the west.

If you’re in London for a short time, Volume 1 is the book to have, and the first eight walks the ones to focus on. If you live in London, it’s not optional, you need all three.

Ignore the clunky title of this series. Unfortunately, nearly every book about London contains ‘amazing,’ ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’ on the cover.

These books just about fit into a large pocket.

Favourite London Walks and Walking Village London

These two books are written by Andrew Duncan and published by New Holland Publishers.

Favourite London Walks charts fifty different routes in all parts of London, including the outskirts, and has taken me to see places I wouldn’t otherwise have thought of.

On occasion there’s a tendency to go the direct way rather than zig zagging to explore the fascinating nooks and crannies, but this book really does help you explore.

London engulfed many villages as it expanded, and Walking Village London takes you to look at twenty two of them. There’s some duplication with Favourite London Walks, but it’s worth owning both books. Of the two, Walking Village London possesses slightly more charm. And it satisfies a personal foible by being lighter.

Both of these are novel-sized books, not something you’d stuff in a pocket.

The maps are clear and show the stubs of side roads. But you wouldn’t catch me walking in London without my book of maps.