Are you partial to a weekend stroll but feel you keep retreading the same routes (understandable after a year of lockdown)? In that case, you might be tempted to check out Camden Guides.
As an incentive, they’ve organised a week of half price walks this month (from 21st-27th June) to encourage Camden people to find out more about their borough, and learn about famous former inhabitants. Guided walks take place most mornings, lunchtimes, afternoons and evenings – and many are only an hour in length.
So what’s on the schedule? On Wednesday 23rd June they all have a medical flavour. Richard Cohen is leading a lunchtime walk and says visitors will “explore the area around Fitzroy Square, look at some of the new and old buildings of University College Hospital, and hear about some of the people who have made the hospital London’s Medical Powerhouse”.
If that’s not for you, the next day, Thursday 24th June, sees walks take place around King’s Cross. At lunchtime retired policeman Chris Foster leads an hour’s amble called Alternative King’s Cross: “Come and hear stories about his time when I was a Bobby on the Beat in the area some years ago”, he says. And with the area’s colourful history, that should definitely open a few eyes.
A special walk that takes place the same evening is a Meet the Guides walk. Course Director Jill Dalton says that this free event is aimed at people “who are interested in taking our course, and becoming qualified tour guides. It offers an opportunity to talk to a number of existing Camden guides and learn about the training and examinations that guides need to complete to get the Camden Guiding badge from the Mayor of Camden”.
“I always wanted to become a tour guide,” says ex-Bobby Chris Foster, “but not being an academic, a historian or a teacher, I thought I’d be completely out of my depth. Three years ago I went on a Meet The Guides walk with some experienced guides who all persuaded me to have a go. I loved every minute and qualified as a member of Camden Tour Guides Association. This was one of my best decisions I have ever made.”
One more for the road? Still in King’s Cross, Kirstie Shedden leads a morning walk on Saturday 26th Jun that explores the industrial past of the area. Come and hear “about how the canals, railways and horse drawn transport worked together and hear stories of those who lived and worked in the area”, she says.
And that’s not all: the Camden Guides also raise money for Charity, in conjunction with the Mayor of Camden, and on Saturday 26th Jun, Alan Hovell and his team will run a walk Celebrating Camden Diversity that goes through Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia, starting at the Story Garden in Somers Town, and ending in Fitzroy Square at the Indian YMCA where a lunch can be purchased. Donations will be taken (recommended minimum £10 a head for waged people).
If you try the walks, fascinating stories are guaranteed – as well as learning something new about the borough of Camden. Booking is required through camdenguides.com, but most of the walks are half price and under £6. The walks will follow social distancing rules. For the full list of walks visit the camdenguides.com website.