An Instagram walk on London’s South Bank
I never tire of staring out along the Thames – it’s a view that feels both timeless but is always changing, with endless new details. And nowhere more so than on London’s South Bank, with its street art and pop-up events, as well as some of the best places to gaze at the river.
So when Maria from One Tiny Leap and I were asked to run an Instawalk for Britmums Live, what better excuse for another wander – and to take another 50 photos of one of my favourite parts of the capital.
If you’d like to walk in our footsteps, these are some of my highlights – including a section that works well for bad weather. Because it’s the every-changing South Bank, do expect some of the art and sculptures to vanish – but there’ll always be something new to find when you visit.
1. Golden Jubilee Bridges
Start with your first view across the river from the bridge linking Embankment tube and the Southbank Centre – usually to a soundtrack of steel drums.
2. Hungerford Bridge street art
Head down from the bridge in the direction of the London Eye – but take a few steps away from the river and head under the bridge to check out the Stik street art on the back, stick figures against a bright yellow background growing ever larger along the wall.
3. London Eye view
Walk back to The Queen’s Walk and the river side for views across the carousel to the London Eye. It’s also one of many spots where you can see the decorated street lamps – apparently dolphins or sturgeon but definitely looking more fishy to me.
This is where you’ll find the Christmas market and festivals as well, if there’s an event running.
4. Royal Festival Hall and Southbank Centre
The bright orange ‘modified social benches’ which decorated the river walk this summer might have gone, but there’s always something to spot here. Head up above the restaurants and find street art around the corner from Wahaca with its brightly painted steps, as well as the temporary dancing fountains.
5. Southbank skate park
Whether you want a grittier urban backdrop or simply to watch the bikers and boarders test out their tricks, this is one spot which is never quiet.
6. River view
Keep wandering in the direction of the Oxo Tower and the bank widens to give a great view down to Blackfriars bridge and the tower itself – sparkling with lights if you’re there at dark, or with unexpected pops of colour on the opposite bank in the daytime. Discover the pastel buildings of Gabriel’s wharf too.
7. Barge House Street
Another small detour from the river itself, cut around the back of the Oxo Tower to Barge House Street – also lit up at night, the stripped brick walls are decorated with the names of the nine muses – or spot the brightly coloured ampersand sculpture.
8. Blackfriars Bridge
Cut back through to the river and head under Blackfriars Bridge with its historic Victorian crest, illustrated tiles telling its history and the red pillars which no longer carry railway tracks. There are more great views of the river and back to the Oxo Tower from the bridge too, especially at night, or spot the red buses driving past.
9. Tate Modern
Walk towards the Millennium Bridge and the Tate Modern – there’s usually art on display by the banks, with St Paul’s Cathedral on the opposite side plus exhibitions and modern art galore inside.
10. Clink Street tunnel
Take your pick – continue along the riverside past the Globe Theatre or cut through the Tate Modern building for some quirky architecture shots and head towards the Clink Street tunnel to spot the street art mural of Shakespeare near the entrance.
11. Borough Market
Keep walking and head towards Borough Market – open until 5/6pm, it’s best on Wednesday to Saturdays and closed on Sundays except in December. Not only will you find stall after stall of fabulous food to snap, there are choices galore to eat. Which you’ll surely deserve after a long walk along the South Bank!
Need to know: The total distance is less than two miles, depending how many detours you take and you can do it (or any part) in reverse too. The last three sections have more cover if the weather isn’t great.
If you walked without stopping, it would take at least 30 minutes – but with so many places to snap, make sure you leave plenty of time to pause!
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