For macabre Victoriana take a trip round Highgate Cemetery. Sadly it is no longer open for individual roaming, but the accompanied tours are entertaining and informative. With its catacombs, statuary, grand mausoleums and famous names this latter day necropolis is a spooky but fun place to visit. Lucinda Hawksley, Charles Dickens's great, great, great granddaughter, will be giving two talks in the cemetery's chapel in February 2012.
A walk along Buckinghamshire's Chess river, through ancient forests, past water meadows, and through fields teeming with wild flowers, lined by cob nut trees and blackberry bushes, is a wonderful way to clear the smog from your brain.
Best of all, it's accessible on the Metropolitan tube line and a round trip will cost all of £7. En route, the Cock Inn at Sarratt and the Rose & Crown at Chorleywood make splendid stopping off points for sustenance and liquid refreshment. We passed a watercress farm too, and a huge bunch of freshly-harvested greens cost £1.50 and tasted a hundred times better than the stuff from the supermarket.
Take the Metropolitan Line from Baker Street or Marylebone Station to Chalfont & Latimer. Follow the river walk along the Chess river to Chorleywood village.
Chorleywood is on the Metropolitan tube line also.
The walk is about 7km.
Chorleywood Common, Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, WD3 5LW
Google map: bit.ly/reCtPs
Church End, Church Lane, Sarratt, Herts WD3 6HH
Google map: bit.ly/nI5yiW
Few of the visitors who flock to Greenwich ever set foot in neighbouring Deptford despite the fact that it too has a bustling market, historic buildings and an interesting maritime past. A good way to explore all this and more is on a new walking tour which uses information from Charles Booth’s famous study of poverty in Victorian London as the basis for an examination of how Deptford has changed over the centuries. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, the walk is a great introduction to Deptford’s ethnically diverse high street, fascinating past and award winning modern architecture. I live nearby but still learned a lot when I went on the walk recently. It is led by Sean, an actor and historian, who not only knows his stuff but can present it very well and also includes a visit to the area’s best pub. It's good value too at £10 for a three hour walk.
This walk takes advantage of some of the transport routes used during our more industrial past.
Start from the Festival Park retail and leisure complex, site of the 1980s Garden Festival, and where Josiah Wedgwood's Etruria Hall is now part of the Moat House hotel. Join the towpath of the Trent and Mersey canal and walk north through the site of the former Shelton Bar steelworks and passing some fine examples of the traditional Bottle Kilns used by the pottery industry to Westport Lake.
From here it is a short walk to Burslem, the most attractive of the six towns which make up "The Potteries" and setting for the best of Arnold Bennett's novels. There are several good pubs here for a refreshment stop. From here you can join the greenway which follows the former "Loop Line" railway back towards your starting point.
The Moat House Hotel - a good starting point for the walk:
Moat House, Etruria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 5BQ
+44(0)8457 76 76 76
Google map: bit.ly/rpkp6L
Arnold Bennett's Burslem:
Wolseley Bridge, Stafford, ST17 0WT
Google map: bit.ly/qePOvu
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