The Best Walking Tours In Britain

Having just disembarked our cruise ship today, I have all things vacation very much on the brain. Having stood in line at the immigration disembarkation checkpoint in Tampa for a soul-destroyingly long time, Hubby and I had plenty of time to chat with our fellow passengers (we Americans are a friendly lot, aren't we?) As it turns out, everyone wants to make their next trip a visit to the UK. So when I opened my email for the first time in seven days (I know, right!? I highly recommend it) and saw a request from Catherine from Very to do a collaboration on some of the best walking tours in the UK (and the perfect outerwear pairings for said tours), the timing seemed right. I was particularly taken with the Intelligence Trail tour; a spy tour complete with your own "Agent" acting as a guide. I am a total sucker for any kind of spy stuff. When my husband and I were dating, I got so swept away with the interactive nature of the U.S. Intelligence Museum in Washington D.C., it's a miracle he didn't just leave me there.

Anyway, prospective visitors and UK-dwellers alike, these walking tours look like a fun way to spend an afternoon.


Museums and galleries can be great, but who really wants to spend their precious time away from the office stuck inside? Luckily for those who want to get a bit of fresh air, some of the most enjoyable and enlightening experiences can be found outdoors. The best walking tours marry fascinating topics with knowledgeable and often eccentric guides. Check out the best around the country this autumn. 
London Street Art Tours
This is great for those seeking an edgier snapshot of the capital than Beefeaters and Buckingham Palace. In Griff you have a passionate, engaging guide with an encyclopaedic grasp of street artists and their work - he knows several of them personally. It’s a fittingly multicultural experience, with highlights including the vibrant, cartoonish work of Barcelona dauber Malarky and Belgian-born Roa’s intricate depictions of animals. The tour starts at Old Street Tube station so be sure to tag along.  
The York Ghost Walk
Find spooky thrills in what is supposedly one of the most haunted cities in the world. Frock-coated tour guides usher you down the narrow streets and alleys of medieval York, enthusiastically bringing ghost stories to life with historical re-enactments thrown in along the way. Particularly grisly is the tale of the Grey Lady, an unfortunate nun who was walled up alive, but there are plenty more ghouls to discover. Book your place in advance and keep out the weather-related chills in a Superdry Windcheater Jacket.

The Intelligence Trail
Mysterious guide Agent X leads you through London's streets, regaling you with facts and anecdotes about the gritty truth that lies behind glamorous spy fiction. With different routes covering World War II, the Cold War and a special tour focussing on the raunchy side of spying, this will engage Bond fans, history buffs and thrill-seekers. Check out their home page for more details and to choose your trail.
The Footprint Walking Tour
The free Footprint Walking Tour of Oxford has earned itself a reputation as a wryly humorous insider’s guide to the town’s two thousand year history and its 900-year-old university. Tours are conducted by Oxford students or graduates, meaning you get warts-and-all insight rather than the University-sanctioned info you might find elsewhere.
Whichever tour you go for, wrap up and enjoy a new way to relax.

Comments

  1. Hope you enjoyed your cruise :) Love this list and know it's going to be great, because the Spy Tour in DC was one the faves of my family and a ghost tour in Gettysburg after, sadly, being bored to tears at the battlefield. We asked for a child-friendly tour (me, being the child of the group) and ended up with the guy who gave tours to visiting military. My hubbie was thrilled, and 3 of us were in misery for hours. But the Spy Museum was perfect and I have to admit that we let the kids do it thinking it was a kid thing. Wrong! Next time we are all doing it since my dream job was being a CIA agent. Haha, but really! Sort of like Jamie Lee Curtis in that Arnold Schwazenegger movie! This list looks perfect!

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  2. I've done the York Ghost Walk one. It was about a 7/10, I think. Enjoyable enough but I didn't entirely trust the guide's historical facts (and the ghost bits were unconvincing). York is a lovely city and it was nice to toddle around atmospheric bits at night.

    Personally I prefer wandering unsupervised. Lots of bits of Britain are pretty enough for several hours (or days) of wandering i.e. Bath, Salisbury, Kew Gardens, Westonbirt Aboretum. There are lovely historic places and stately homes everywhere run by English Heritage (in England, obvs) and the National Trust. And lots of lovely smaller towns i.e. Devizes, Bradford on Avon and lovely counties and rural areas i.e. Dorset, the Cotswolds. This list is very much skewed toward the South West where I live - there are lovely bits all over the UK. Puffins on the Isle of May near Edinburgh, for example!

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