Length: Unless otherwise stated, walks run for 2 hours or slightly longer and cover 2–2.5 miles.
Group size: usually a maximum of 15, pre-booked only via Eventbrite.
Cost: £15 per person for 2+ hours; shorter walks at a reduced rate.
Private tours: browse the suggestions below and contact me for a quote.
Walking the Islington & Hackney Border south from the Regent’s Canal to the City
Part of my ‘Beating the Bounds’ series of border walks, walking from De Beauvoir and the Regent’s canal to Finsbury, Shoreditch and the edge of the City in Moorfields. A varied mix of City Livery Company history, ironworks, canal basins, WWII devastation, the lost hospitals quarter, a natural swimming pool and a mediaeval well.
Starts at the Rosemary Branch by the canal and ends near Old St Station.
Canonbury Tower Tours
Canonbury Tower near Canonbury Square is a survivor of Islington’s Tudor and even earlier history. It was built in the late 16th century as an addition to an earlier manor house, features beautiful wood panelling in some rooms, was home to several notable people including Francis Bacon and Oliver Goldsmith, and offers a fantastic view from the roof.
Courtesy of the seventh Marquess of Northampton, Islington Guides are now offering two tours each month, strictly limited to 10 guests. My next tour is on 9th February 2024 at 11 am, details and booking here.
‘Beating the Bounds’ from King’s Cross to Farringdon
A historic walk winding either side of the border between Camden and Islington boroughs – also the route of the now-buried River Fleet. We will see signs of the river course, traces of wells and tributaries, seek out border markers and explore varied architecture from pretty houses to old warehouses and religious orders. Part of my ‘Beating the Bounds’ series of border walks.
Starts at King’s Cross Station and ends near Farringdon Station.
Walking the border between Islington & Hackney around Dalston and De Beauvoir
‘Beating the Bounds’ to mark and confirm the borders between parishes is an ancient tradition, where the border was literally paced out, agreed and marked with stones each year. This is one of a series of walks exploring the borders of today’s Islington Borough (with Hackney and Camden), looking at how this has evolved over the centuries due to a mix of changing land ownership, parish church catchments, significance of early settlements and roads, and natural features such as springs and ponds.
This walk between Islington and Hackney boroughs follows the lines of Balls Pond Road and Southgate Road. There’s a wealth of interest on either side of the border, including a leper hospital, almshouses, inns of pleasure and ill repute, pretty 19C residential roads, market gardens, a livestock market, vanished churches, factories and a manor house.
Starts Haggerston Overground and ends at the southern end of Southgate Road by The Rosemary Branch.
The Regent’s Canal: the Angel to Hackney
A weekday winter’s morning canal walk, strolling east from the Angel and ending near Hoxton. A mix of canal history, horse stables, trendy apartments, cafes, tranquil basins and wildlife at a time of year when the towpath is usually relatively quiet.
Starts at Angel Station and ends near Hoxton Station.
A watery wander around the Angel Islington
A circular walk around the Angel area, exploring lost and hidden rivers, springs and wells; a manmade canal and reservoirs; the New River – an astonishing early 17C waterworks scheme; risqué pleasure gardens; a famous theatre; Georgian and Victorian squares and streets; an eccentric estate owner; a lost cricket ground; and all ending in a historic market.
Starts and ends near the Angel station.
Mediaeval to modern – the monasteries of Clerkenwell and their legacy today
In medieval times Clerkenwell was an area of fields on the outskirts of the City of London, dominated by monastic institutions. The monasteries were all closed in the 1530s when Henry VIII broke with the Church of Rome but their buildings remained. Some were demolished but others were repurposed and rebuilt over the years; many of them still play a philanthropic and caring role today.
Starts and ends near Farringdon Station.
For a built-up urban area, Clerkenwell has a perhaps surprising number of green spaces, many of them named as ‘squares’, but not always square in shape. Some are ancient open spaces dating back centuries, particularly in the south of the area closer to the City. Here, monastic houses were founded from the 12th century onwards, including St. John’s Priory and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. Many other garden squares closer to Pentonville are the result of tremendous residential building, by three main landowners, from 1800 onwards. This walk tracks north through Clerkenwell, looking at both types of squares and their histories.
Starts at Barbican tube station, ends at the Angel.
Historic Finsbury and St. Lukes
Now part of the borough of Islington, this area and adjacent Clerkenwell formed the old Borough of Finsbury until 1965. The Finsbury area was originally part of the religious parish of St. Giles Cripplegate, just outside the City walls. St. Giles was in turn divided in the early 18C when St. Luke’s Old St. was built. This walk explores several centuries of history including archery fields, Elizabethan theatre, a noted artillery regiment, a plague pit, the birthplace of Methodism and a radical early metropolitan council.
Starts at Barbican station, ends near Old Street station.
Once a run down area on the edge of the East End, now an amazing mix of old and new, the dilapidated and fashionable, Tudor retreats, almshouses, elegant squares and workhouses. Plus a radical and campaigning 19C parish administration who generated electricity from waste in a building that still stands!
Starts at Hoxton Overground, ends in Hoxton Street.
De Beauvoir Town – royal hunting ground to 19C residential estate
De Beauvoir lies in today’s London Borough of Hackney and is still sometimes called ‘Kingsland’ because Henry VIII hunted here. It is distinct from but nestled up close to Dalston, London Fields, the Regent’s Canal, Shoreditch, south east Islington and Mildmay. This walk winds through the early/mid 19C streets and beautiful central square, a historic canal basin, lost churches, site of a cattle market and much more.
Starts at Haggerston Overground station, ends near The Rosemary Branch on Southgate Road.
Clerkenwell Crime and Punishment
Turbulent centuries of monasteries, vengeance, courthouses, prisons, murder, social reformers and more….
Clerkenwell lies just outside the old City, originally the location of the monastic houses from the late 1100s. When Henry VIII siezed these in the 1500s, some occupants met grim fates. Over the following centuries, the population increased greatly as London grew and people came looking for work, and in turn the area became overcrowded, crime-ridden and squalid. As it lay outside the City’s direct jurisdiction (part of Middlesex), the area attracted radicals, rebels and criminals. The local system of magistrates, judges and parishes in turn built prisons, courthouses and workhouses.
This walk explores the nature of crime and the various punishments meted out over the centuries in this fascinating area.
Starts and ends near Farringdon station.
Highbury, Canonbury and Central Islington Highlights
This walk starts in Highbury Fields, then winds south either side of Upper Street. We will explore the coming of the railways, a 16C manor house, a 17C water course, theatres and music halls, two churches, cattle sheds, agriculture, literary figures, pretty Georgian terraces and squares, an art gallery, at least three romances and more.
Starts at Highbury Barn, ends at Islington Green near the Angel.
Cloudesley – from fields and livestock to genteel living
The Cloudesley Estate in Barnsbury originated from a bequest of two fields in 1517 from Richard Cloudesley to the Parish of Islington. After three centuries of agricultural use, the residential estate was developed from 1820 onwards. This walk highlights the social and cultural history of the first half of the 19C in Islington and is enlivened by histories of those who were buried in the crypt of Holy Trinity church. You will meet the great and good of the parish, hear of a huge fraud and scandal, learn of residents who travelled the world and those closer to home.
Starts and ends in Cloudesley Square (5 minutes from Angel tube).
Payment and refunds
Payment in advance via Eventbrite secures your booking.
Cancellations up to 24 hours in advance are refunded (minus Eventbrite booking fee); within 24 hours of the tour, no refund. Walks will go ahead whatever the weather, please be prepared to dress accordingly.