London is always the most happening city of the World. No matter what time of year it is, there is an event, drama, festival, carnival, exhibition to get excited about. But for a traveller, who wants limitless supply of entertainment, the South Bank of the River Thames should be the destination for him/her. This neighbourhood, spanning between Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge, offers stratospheric wheel of London Eye, Spectacular view of London from Tate Britain, Flamboyant building like The Shard, street art of clinic street, world’s best drama in National Theatre, geometric street of Butler’s Wharf and many more things to get excited. Even William Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in a house located in the South Bank.
In this post I will guide you to make a memorable walk in the South Bank. However, due to Covid-19 Pandemic, I could not ride on the London Eye, nor The Shard was open.
My journey started from Butler’s Wharf. Alternatively I could have started from London Eye. But I preferred to stay at Westminster Bridge during dusk. So it was obvious to start from Butler’s Wharf.
Since there is no tube station at Butler’s Wharf, it can be reached by walking either from London Bridge (Jubilee or Northern Line) or from Tower HIll (District or City Line). In both options, a ten minutes walk is required. I wanted to add more spices, colours and texture. Hence I deboarded at Tower Hill station and crossed the iconic Tower Bridge by walking.
Crossing the river Thames I reached Butler’s Wharf. It was a very cloudy morning of Spring. I went behind the Wharf and started walking along the cobblestone street of the Shad Thames. The antiquity of the street took me to the 19th century. I imagined the cargo swinging from cranes and rattling along the cobbled stones on iron wheeled carts. This area housed the largest tea warehouse of London. Nowadays tea is sold in the specialist stores here.
From Butler’s Wharf I started walking towards west along Tooley Street. I thought to walk along the bank of the river Thames but I preferred the old street as my mind went back to the 19th century.
I crossed the London Bridge using the subway while humming the famous rhyme of school days “London Bridge is falling down my fair lady.” The bridge was really fell down by the attack of Norwegian King, that I mentioned in the post “Walking with the history in the City of Old London”. Suddenly it started raining. So I had to take a shelter in the subway. When the rain stopped, the sky became crystal clear.
Just Crossing London Bridge I came across an elegant historic building. The building is known as Southwark Cathedral. The building served as a medieval Augastinian monastery before it was refurbished as a cathedral in 1905. The Harvard Chapel reminded that John Harvard, the founder of Harvard University, was baptised here.
Behind the Southwark Cathedral, the ancient Montague Chamber reminded me the Shakespear’s Tragedy “Romeo and Juliet” where Juliet belonged to Montague. Farther walking west, I reached Clink Street.
Clink Street is named for England’s first prison set up in a cellar of the Bishop of Wincheter’s Palace in 1150. This street is spanned between the riverside Anchor Pub and St. Mary Overie’s Dock. Lovely street arts can be found in this narrow street.
Walking further west, I crossed Southwark Bridge by the subway and the road led me to Shakespeare’s Globe.
Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays, in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames. The original theatre was built in 1599, destroyed by the fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644.
It accommodates only 1,400 spectators compared to the original theatre’s 3,000. Unfortunately I could not witness a show. It was closed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
I was feeling goosebump to be at a place where Shakespeare used to write his plays. I felt the same 2 years ago when I visited the Castle of Hamlet near Copenhagen. My travel or my journey of life somewhere made a bridge between Copenhagen and London.
There was a lot more to surprise me that evening. I kept going towards the west. Crossing the Millenium Bridge I came across Tate Modern.
Tate Modern contains the latest collection of modern art and the visual documentation of all the art-movements of the 20th Century. Works from the landmark art movements of the 20th century (including expressionism, surrealism) are grouped thematically here. The organisated display shows how the different genres overlapped and influenced the work of other artists.
There are many galleries in Tate Modern. Turbine Hall is specially used to host the regular programs of talks and biographies of artists. But mostly I was astonished to see the original painting – “Mountain Lake” by Salvador Dali, “Three Dancers” by Pablo Picasso. When I was a student of Fine Arts, my teacher Lt. Shashanka Chaudhury showed us the series of books named “Great Indian Artists”. Tate Modern took me in my teen age when I saw these paintings in that series of books.
I came out of Tate Modern. Suddenly I got a What’s App call from my friend Arijita, who suggested that I should go to the rooftop restaurant – “”. I went there, ordered a beer and baked salmon. From the restaurant, I got the spectacular top view of the city of London.
Finishing off the beer I came out. My next stop was the National Theatre. Opened in 1976, the National Theatre has staged more than 1000 classical and contemporary dramas.
Strolling further towards the west I reached Southbank Centre – the heart of the Southbank. Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room are spanned at this point. Due to the lock down they remained closed also it was about to dusk.
So I headed towards London Eye. London Eye added a distinctive feature to the London Skyline. The 135 metre high wheel is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel. If it was running, then probably I could get a breathtaking top view of the city.
I came to Westminster Bridge and using staircases I went to the center of the bridge. From there I got some magnificent views of the London Eye. Turning back I saw Westminster Abbey and Royal Parliament Hall.
My walk ended in Westminster Bridge. From Westminster Tube Station I came back home.
Covid-19 hampered the walk very much. Otherwise I could go to the Imperial War Museum, could watch some great open air concert and obviously from The Shard, I could have the experience to sit in the terrace of the city and get a top view of London and its suburbs.
Dear fellow reader, I wish when you go to the South Bank, you will be able to experience them all. Wish you all the best.