The Parks: St. James, Green, Hyde and Kensington
- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
This walk takes you through the wonderful parks that dot Central London. It’s hard to believe your walking through busy London as you enjoy the tranquil parks, including St James Park, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Park. Along the way you see highlights like Buckingham Palace, The Guards Museum, Churchill War Rooms, Trafalgar Square, The Mall, Shepherd Market, The Serpentine, Royal Albert Hall and High Street Kensington.
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Route Description for The Parks: St. James, Green, Hyde and Kensington
One of the joys of walking in London are the Royal Parks, and this walk takes you through Central London, with a focus on seeing four of the best Parks in London. This walk is best enjoyed on a nice day, as lounging in the parks with a good book, a bottle of wine or a picnic is a highlight of many tourists’ holidays in London.
Starting at Victoria Station, walk straight on Terminus Place for 130 m as it changes into Wilton Road. Come to Victoria Street and look right and see the Little Ben Clock, near the intersection. Go left and continue on Victoria Street for 140 m before turning right onto Buckingham Palace Road. Walk down Buckingham Palace Road as it eventually trends to the right and changes to Birdcage Walk and reaches St. James's Park. Along the way, you will pass The Royal Mews and The Queen's Gallery.
The Royal Mews provides transport to the Royal Family, including both cars and horse-drawn carriages. It is also among the finest working stables in existence and responsible for training the horses that pull the royal carriages. You can visit The Royal Mews from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm or 5:00 pm depending on the time of year. The Queen's Gallery is open to visitors from the beginning of October to mid-April from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. It is home to the Royal Collection and changing exhibitions. In-between The Royal Mews and the Queens Gallery is the Buckingham Palace Shop, a great stop for fans of the Royal Family who want official Royal Family merchandise.
Follow Birdcage Walk until it comes to St. James Park, where you enter and follow the path in the park. St. James's Park is the oldest of London's Royal Parks. The park is surrounded by some of the most famous landmarks in the country and the center of ceremonial London. It is also a tranquil place to just stop and relax.
Follow the path along the southern side of St James’s Park Lake, soon reaching Duck Island. Duck Island is a nature reserve and home to the park's bird collection. Across the road from here are the Churchill War Rooms, a great attraction for military history lovers.
Continue past duck Island and walk past the Guards Memorial and have a look at Horse Guards Parade before passing the National Police Memorial along the way. When you reach The Mall turn right and go under Admiralty Arch to the southern end of Trafalgar Square.
You can explore Trafalgar Square, and when you’re done, return back down The Mall. You will pass the Institute of Contemporary Arts, which has a great bookstore and contains the Rochelle Bar and Canteen, which is very popular, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Head back down The Mall for 300 m and take a left to return to St. James's Park. Continue down the path as it rejoins St. James's Park Lake. There are wonderful views of Buckingham Palace, all along the lake and the bridge across the lake.
At the end of the St James Park walk up and cross Spur Road and enjoy a great view of Buckingham Palace and the nearby Victoria Memorial. Buckingham Palace is the home of the Queen of the United Kingdom and the working headquarters of the Monarchy. The palace is where the Queen carries out both ceremonial and official duties. Be sure to check the palace's website for opening times and admission prices.
The Victoria Memorial consists of the Dominion Gates, the Memorial Gardens, and a large monument in the center that commemorates the death of Queen Victoria. The monument is made out of white marble; there are statues present representing victory, truth, courage, charity, motherhood, and constancy in addition to the statue of Victoria.
After passing Buckingham Palace, cross Constitution Hill and continue straight for about 85 m, entering Green Park. Just after passing Canada Gate on the right, turn left onto the path. Follow the path for 400 m through the park before taking a left onto Piccadilly.
Continue on Piccadilly for around 75 m and turn right onto White Horse Street. Follow White Horse Street for 130 m before taking a left into Shepherd Market. The charming Shepherd Market is a small square filled with an array of Victorian pubs, cafes, and boutique shops. The market has more of a relaxing village-like atmosphere compared to the hectic nature of nearby Piccadilly. Near the corner of White Horse Street and Shepherd Market is Ye Grapes, a great Victorian pub that serves Thai dishes and is equipped with quirky decor. The Little Square is another good place to enjoy a meal in Shepherd Market. The restaurant is family-fun and serves delicious food from an eclectic international menu.
Continue down Shepherd Market as it changes to Market Mews for 240 m before turning right onto Pitt's Head Mews and then reaches Park Lane at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Cross Park Lane via an underground pedestrian walkway to enter Hyde Park. Hyde Park is one of London's eight Royal Parks and it contains many famous landmarks within its 350 acres. There is also a variety of recreational activities at the park including swimming, boating, and horse riding.
After entering Hyde Park, make your way towards the Serpentine. Our map shows us going left for about 35 m then turning right onto a path, passing the Achilles Statue on your left. We then go right on a major road before we come to the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen, which has a great location.
Take a left right before the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen and follow the path in front of the restaurant for about 1.0 km, walking alongside the southern portion of The Serpentine. Along the way you will pass the Serpentine Lido, an outdoor pool. People can often be seen swimming in the murky water. Take a break and have a bite to eat or a refreshing drink at Lido Café where you can enjoy classic British food and the view of the lake.
When you reach the split in the path after Lido Café, keep to the left. Follow the path for 150 m, making sure to stop and see the Diana Memorial Fountain on the left. The Diana Memorial Fountain is made up of 545 pieces of Cornish granite. The goal of the design is to reflect the life of Diana. The water flows from its highest point in two directions, cascading and swirling to the bottom where it meets in a tranquil pool.
Continue on your path, crossing West Carriage Drive, and then continuing for 300 m along The Long Water. Go left at the first major intersection and walk towards the Round Pond, which has Kensington Palace in the background. Along the way you’ll pass the Physical Energy Statue. This controversial statue commemorates Cecil Rhodes; he used his wealth to try to extend the British Empire from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope. Rhodes was the founder of Rhodesia, today known as Zimbabwe. With the fortune he left to the University of Oxford, the institution established The Rhodes Scholarship to provide funding for international students.
You are now in Kensington Gardens, another one of the city's Royal Parks. Within its 265 acres, you can find Kensington Palace, Albert Memorial, a Peter Pan Statue, the Serpentine Gallery, and the Italian Gardens.
Head south and make your way to The Albert Memorial. The Albert Memorial, one of the city's most ornate monuments, commemorated Prince Albert's death in 1861. The memorial depicts Prince Albert holding the catalogue of the Great Exhibition that was held in the park in 1851 which he helped organize and inspire. There are marble figures at each corners representing Europe, America, Africa, and Asia. Also included in the memorial are figures representing engineering, agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing. At the base, the Parnassus frieze shows celebrated poets, musicians, painters, architects, and sculptors, representing Prince Albert's love for the arts.
Across from the memorial is the Royal Albert Hall. If you can go see a concert there during your visit to London, it is a stunning venue
Circle around The Albert Memorial before heading back up the path a little to The Flower Walk, about 30 m up from where the path you were previously on ended. Walk down The Flower Walk to the left and exit Kensington Gardens; cross over Kensington High Street, where you go right.
Follow Kensington High Street for 650 m until you reach High Street Kensington Station.
High Street Kensington is full of restaurants and shops. The side streets can be fun to explore as well. Along this street, you will find The Goat Tavern, the oldest pub in Kensington, established in 1679. The pub overlooks Kensington Gardens and its cellars even have tunnels that lead into the palace grounds. If you are hungry for more than pub food after your walk, Bill's Kensington Restaurant, located just inside the station, is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea.
Insider Hints for The Parks: St. James, Green, Hyde and Kensington
- Today’s walk is made for a picnic. Buy some wine or beer, get some snacks, and spend an hour or two on a blanket in any of the parks you go through.
- While walking along The Serpentine you are very close to Harrods. Walk South and cross South Carriage Drive and head down Knightsbridge and then Brompton Road if you want to make a stop.
- From the High Street Kensington tube station, you can also walk north on Kensington Church Street to reach Notting Hill if you fancy exploring more. Notting Hill is often a let-down for tourists, though the nearby Portobello Market is a highlight.
- If you have the energy, instead of stopping at High Street Kensington, consider walking back along the northern end of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and ending at Marble Arch.
Getting to the The Parks: St. James, Green, Hyde and Kensington Trailhead
Start at Victoria Station, which has great service by overland train, tube, and buses.
The Parks: St. James, Green, Hyde and Kensington Elevation Graph
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The Parks: St. James, Green, Hyde and Kensington Reviews
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