This was an easy paced walk of around 6 miles led by Ken Livermore C386 providing Centurions with the opportunity to visit three London parks and a rose garden.
We started from a very busy Green Park Tube Station just after 11:00am but as we ducked into an alley we soon emerged into the peace and quiet of St James Place. This rather exclusive part of London was once home to many illustrious people... Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Winston Churchill, Chopin to name but a few. From here we headed down to the Mall passing St James Palace and as the Mall is closed to traffic om Sundays, it was a pleasant stroll around the area admiring the many buildings along the way. A quick detour up to Carlton House Terrace to do a bit of statue spotting. The Queen, King George, Charles de Gaulle, Florence Nightingale.....
The next stop (well a very brief glance really) was Trafalgar Square and from here, we cut through back on to the Mall close to Admiralty Arch and then down Horse Guards Road to enter St James Park. Here we ambled around the park to emerge back onto the Mall just in front of Buckingham Palace.
Crossing Constitution Hill - we all recountered memories of the 2012 London Olympics and the race walks which took place here. And so we stopped for a group photo - ably helped by some poor passing tourist who nobly agreed to take our photo. He spoke very good English and he had a brilliant sense of humour as he organsied the group to stand correctly!
Back into Green Park and we stopped by the Canada Memorial and then walked up towards Piccadilly to view the latest memorial erected- the WW2 Bomber Command Memorial. A stunning piece of sculpture.
From Green Park we then crossed to the relative calm of the "traffic island" and Wellington Arch. This building used to house what must have been the smallest police station in London - so Chris Flint informed us. Again, another pause to look at the Australian Memorial. Then we braved the crowds to cross into Hyde Park by Apsley House (home to the "Iron Duke" - the Duke of Wellington). At this time of year, this end of Hyde Park is given over to "Winter Wonderland" - now in its 10th year and somwhere to avoid if you can. Quickly turning left, we headed for the peace of the Rose Garden. At last... time to reach for our packed lunches!
Lunch over, we then headed over to the Serpentine and passed the famous Serpentine Swimming Club - well known for its early morning dip on Christmas Day. Well, we all resisted the tempation to jump in...
Another pause by the Priincess Diana Memorial Fountain and then we crossed the road into Kensington Gardens. Here, we admired the splendid iron gates, the Albert Memorial standing proudly opposite the Royal Albert Hall. And this is where our group split - three of us to head for home and the rest of the party to go on to Marble Arch via Kensington Palace and the Italian Gardens.
Many of our walks are not just merely walks. They are a journey through history - and this walk was no exception. Ken came well prepared in the history of our route along with print outs of maps, photos, plans etc. Thank you Ken. And thank you to our Strolls Secretary, Steve Kemp who orgainsed us all. And not least to everyone who made the journey to be there: Chris Flint, Norman Smith, Wendy Watson and husband Ray, George Beecham, Sean Pender and me!
A briliant day out with perfect winter sun to boot!
Report by Kathy Crilley, Captain