Streets Ahead is the column from London Walks' Pen David Tucker…
"What London Walks would you recommend for children?"
The "walks for kids" question is one we're asked a lot. The wide-ranging answer usually goes something like this (this is how I put it in a recent email to someone who'd popped that very question):
The last word…
And what about some of the Away We Go! – Day Trips from London that we do? Surely some of them would also be to your children's taste. The one to Richmond & Hampton Court of course springs to mind. As does the Oxford & the Cotswolds trip. I'd be very surprised if that one wasn't also more or less right for them. I remember being very interested by my first visit to a "university town" when I was a youngster – probably because I sensed that I was getting a sneak preview of my own future.
I have to say I think it's as much a question of the guide as the content. Katy's great with kids. Ditto "the world's greatest guide"* (Karen). In which vein, we had a "herogram" in a while back about several of the walks in relation to the writers' grandchildren. She sang the praises of all of the guides, but the really striking thing about the letter was that Hilary's Christopher Wren's London – Bloody, Flaming, Poxy London (for the record it only runs in our Summer programme) came in for special praise vis-a-vis the writer's grandchildren: how super Hilary was and how interesting she'd made it for the children. Now on the face of it, you'd think if there was any walk that wasn't right for a couple of kids it would be Christopher Wren's London – but Hilary managed to bring it off. More than bring it off – she clearly turned up trumps! Let me see if I can find that note.
Here's what she says:
'I have just returned from a week in London with my two grandchildren, J.J. and Suzanne (ages 10 and 9 ). Today I am going through all the memorabilia/ tickets,cards,etc. I am on my way to buy binders for scrapbooks for each of them.
'I am writing to you to tell you how much your walking tours enhanced our visit to your lovely city. We had such a good time with all the tour guides, and they each made my grandchildren so much a part of each tourI can't begin to thank each of them adequately.
We went to Windsor/Eton with Chris Green on Monday and that was the beginning of a fantastic week. Chris went over the list of walks with me on the train to Windsor and made suggestions of which tours would interest J.J.and Suzanne.
We loved the tour of Christopher Wren's London on Tuesday with Hillary. She really took the children under her wing and pointed out things that they could relate to. We ended up at St. Paul's for evensong And sat in the choir loft with the boys' choir. Fantastic!!!
The next day we went to Shakespeare/Dickens London with Jean Haynes who Quoted from so many poets that I wake up at night aware of her words. Wonderful!
Later that day we met up with Helena and met an old friend from the Windsor tour. We went on the London Walk and learned so much about the places where we had already wandered on our own. (We had picked up your brochure at St. Martin in the Fields on Sunday when we first arrived).
On Thursday we went to Greenwich , again with Chris, and were in for another delightful day. My son came in on Thursday evening and we took off on our own on Friday , but I just wanted you to know how your tours and guides added to our trip. I wish we had had another three weeks to really 'do 'the city. It was a marvelous experience.
My daughter and son-in-law are planning to go to London this summer and I have already given them your summer walk schedule. I thank you so much for your expertise. One very satisfied tourist, Peggie O'Neill'
*I'm not making that up. The classy old American travel magazine Travel & Leisure crowned Karen with that very laurel – "the world's greatest tour guide."
Accompanied children under the age of 15 go free on all London Walks
Full Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.