Self Guided Kensington Walk
Explore The Best Kensington Has To Offer Independently
1 - Diana Playground
2 - Orangery
3 - Kensington Palace
4 - Round Ponds
5 - Albert Memorial
6 - Geographic Society
7- Royal Albert Hall
The Kensington Walk
This short walk crams a lot into a short distance. The distance is well under 2 miles and non-stop you could do it in 40 minutes or less. However, many people will be hard put to complete the walk within one long day - there is so much to tempt along the way.
|The London Icons Walk|
|City Of London Walk|
|The Kensington Walk|
|The Shopping Walk|
The Start Of The Walk
We start the walk at Queensway Underground Station on the Central Line. If its more convenient, Bayswater Station is just 200m away.
In front of Queensway station cross the busy Bayswater Road and enter Kensington Gardens by the Black Lion Gate. On a Sunday artists will be displaying their work along the railings here.
Diana, Princess of Wales' Memorial Playground
Just inside the gates on your right is the playground dedicated in memory to Princess Diana whose home at Kensington Palace is very near. The centrepiece is a huge wooden pirate ship and various other activities and playthings for the youngsters. One of the better free playgrounds you will come across on your travels.
There is also a cafe selling sandwiches, drinks etc. and toilets.
From Black Lion Gate / Diana Playground walk straight down the wide path in front of you into the park. For visitors, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens can be termed one park. We have a dedicated Hyde Park / Kensington Gardens page which will tell you more of what the park has to offer.
After 5-10 minutes you come to the Kensington Palace complex.
Popular on account of its associations with Princess Diana, Kensington was in the 17th and 18th centuries where the monarch held court before royalty moved onto Buckingham Palace.
Today you can tour the palace, its popularity soaring since it was used as the home of Princess Diana. There is a collection of her clothes on view within the palace.
We have a dedicated Kensington Palace page which will tell you more about the palace and has links to the official Kensington Palace web site so you can check out opening hours and prices.
The Orangery, (open to everyone) is part of Kensington Palace and is one of 'the' places to take tea or perhaps something heavier when you're in London.
The Round Pond
On the east side of Kensington Palace is the imaginatively named Round Pond. It was here that the playwright J.M.Barrie met Llewellyn Davies whilst walking his dog, LLewellyn being the inspiration for Peter Pan. There is a statue of Peter Pan elsewhere in the park, (see our Kensington Gardens Page).
Now, make your way away from Kensington Palace in an eastward direction, south of the Round Pound. We are heading for the Royal Albert Hall which you will see now on the south side of Kensington Gardens, (the large domed building, see picture below). There are various options to get there, perhaps the finest is to take the path that runs east just south of the Round Pond. Ignore turnoffs until you are due north of the Royal Albert Hall, where you turn right straight for the hall.
Just before you get to the Albert Hall you come to the impressive Albert Memorial.
Built as a memorial by Queen Victoria to her husband between 1863 and 1875. Prince Albert was responsible for much of what you will see in the next part of the walk. Prince Albert was enthusiastic about education, progress and industry. The piece of land south of this point was made available and developed under Prince Albert's influence and contains world class museums, a university and the Royal Albert Hall concert hall itself.
During the 2nd World War an anti aircraft gun accidentally shot off the orb and cross at the top of the memorial. Now cross over the road to the Albert Hall.
Royal Geographical Society
Immediately to the left of the Royal Albert Hall is the Royal Geographical Society. A charity devoted to the promotion of all things geographical, it has over 14,000 members world-wide and holds about 2 million items.
The public are allowed access to the reading rooms and collections, but you will need Id and pay a fee.
|Royal Albert Hall|
Royal Albert Hall
Opened in 1871, perhaps the UK's most famous concert hall. Was originally going to be called the Hall of Arts & Sciences but Queen Victoria instead had it named after her husband.
The hall is best known for the annual proms concerts, but has hosted a wide range of performances including the first Sumo tournament held outside Japan.
Concerts tend to be 'establishment' entertainers, opera and such like.
Take a look at what's on before making your way to the back of the hall, then descending the steps to Prince Consort Road. In front of you is the Royal College of Music.
Royal College of Music
The College teaches all aspects of modern classical music.
Among its famous past pupils are Andrew Lloyd Weber, Gustav Holst, Benjamin Britten and Rick Wakeman. As you can see its the cream that attend here, around 600 students from all around the world.
1 - College of Music
2 - Imperial College
3 - Kensington Palace
4 - Science Museum
5 - V & A Museum
6 - London Oratory
7 - Rembrandt Hotel
8 - Harrods
9 - Harvey Nichols
Turn left at the bottom of the steps, heading eastwards, then right at the T junction into Exhibition Road, then keep on the right hand side of the road. You now pass the Imperial College of Science & Technology, found in 1907 and part of the University of London. One of the top tier of scientific, engineering and medical research and teaching institutions in the world.
Next on your right is the Science Museum, a world class museum with free entry and open 7 days a week. This really is a great museum for people of all ages, museums are usually quite dry for kids, but this is the exception. The basement and workshops are especially good for youngsters.
|Natural History Museuml|
Floors of exhibits ranging from full size steam locomotives and aircraft to how computers work will keep many absorbed for a whole day.
(See our London Museums page for links to all the official web sites of the museums. All the museums here at South Kensington have free entry.)
Natural History Museum
Next on your right are the Earth Galleries of the Natural History Museum, once a separate entity called the Geological Museum. Carry on down to the busy Cromwell Road and turn right. The full impact of the Natural History Museum now hits you, from the outside it looks more like a palace than a museum. A Victorian masterpiece?, completed in 1881.
Like the Science Museum, entry is free and opens 7 days a week. With more than 70 million specimens , ranging from microscopic slides to mammoth skeletons, the Museum is home to the largest and most important natural history collection in the world.
Now retrace your steps to the busy junction of Exhibition Road and Cromwell Road, walking across Exhibition Road to the Victoria & Albert Museum opposite. The entrance is a few yards on your left.
Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is the major museum in the UK for arts and design. Like the Science Museum and Natural History Museum entrance is free and the museum is open 7 days a week.
The London Oratory
On leaving the main exit of the V&A Museum turn left on the wide pavement heading eastwards towards Knightsbridge. Immediately on your left is the London Oratory, the London headquarters of the Catholic Oratorian Order. There are several masses offered each day and private masses are available by arrangement.
During the 1980's the KGB had a dead letter box near the alter.
On the opposite side of the road is the Rembrandt Hotel, a 4 star hotel. The building was originally commissioned as a set of luxury suites for Harrods department store, which we visit very soon.
Carry on walking eastwards along what is now the Brompton Road. In the middle of the road you will see a green kiosk, probably with a few black cabs parked alongside. This is a tea room for the cab drivers. There used to be similar places all over London, those that are left are now protected.
Harrods Department Store
We finish our walk at Harrods, London's most prestigious and Europe's largest department store. The coveted Harrods bag can be relatively cheaply obtained by purchasing in the food hall.
Knightsbridge in which Harrods stands is one of the most desirable areas of London. One of the closest residential areas to the royal palaces and buildings of government. The area was developed about 200 years ago when it was unappealing marshland type terrain, hard to imagine now.
Further along Brompton Road at the junction with Sloane Street on the same side of the road is Harvey Nichols, London's most glamorous store?