This section of the Jubilee Walkway, known as the City Loop, is a short circular walk around the City of London. At just 2 (or 3) miles in length, you will walk around St Paul’s cathedral, with views across Millennium Bridge. You will navigate the labyrinth of the Barbican, walk down narrow alleys, and see the ancient walls of the city. Oh, and of course the skyscrapers. You can’t come to the City of London and not see the skyscrapers.
What is the City of London?
It’s basically the financial district, of which we have two. The other one is in another part of London. This is the original one though. As such, it is a mix of historic buildings with Roman remains, and modern day skyscrapers.
If you hear a Londoner say ‘the City’, this is where they mean.
A few notes about the circular walk around the City of London
I followed the map and description from the TFL website, however, I did notice a few errors. First of all, it tells you to go up a bridge which is no longer there. There is also a bit where the description doesn’t match up to the map.
But never fear, I work in the City, so know it well. I will let you know where they went wrong and how to fix it.
Another thing to be aware of, GPS will not work here. Due to all the high buildings, it will get confused with where you are. I tried to track the walk around the City, however, my little dot was flying all over the place. As such, I don’t have a map for you. I will try to describe the route as best I can for you to follow.
Logistics for the circular walk around the City of London
- Start: Number 1 Poultry
- Finish: Number 1 Poultry
- How to get there: Bank tube station is near the start*
- Distance: Apparently 2 miles. My trackers says 3. Although, due to questionable GPS, that can’t be trusted.
- Time: Depends how much you stop….but allow an hour.
- Tip 1: At the time of writing, most people are working from home. However, once things return to normal I would strongly advise you to do this walk around the City on the weekend. During weekdays the place is like a zoo of City workers.
- Tip 2: Look out for the silver discs on the ground marking the route. I have to say though, I almost forgot about the discs. I did spot a few but wasn’t really paying attention.
*God help you if you are arriving from Bank station
A Guide To The Circular Walk Around The City Of London – Jubilee Walkway
Technically I didn’t start at the official start. I did this after work one day so started from there. However, for the purpose of this guide, I will start your walk from the official start point.
So you can say you are official.
Number 1 Poultry – The start point of the walk around the City of London.
You will be starting your circular walk around the City of London from Number 1 Poultry. It is a pink corner building. The best thing I can say to you is to locate it on the map. If arriving from Bank station, there are a million different exits and I have no idea which one you will come out of. You won’t even know. If you are really unlucky, you won’t even exit at Bank. You will exit somewhere else at Monument.
For guidance, if you are standing at the big junction where the Royal Exchange is, look west. It’s over there (unless you find yourself at Monument….then good luck).
If you look at the photo below. This is the view if you are standing with the Poultry building behind you.
On the ground you should see a gold disc which marks the start of the Jubilee Walkway walk around the City of London
Fun fact: In 2002, the Queen unveiled this panel in celebration of her Golden Jubilee.
From here, walk along the street on the north side of the building along Poultry. Then take the first right after the arches onto King street.
From here you will get a view to the Guildhall at the end. Walk to it.
You will now find yourself in Guildhall Yard, with the Guildhall up ahead, and the Guildhall art gallery to the right
Fun fact: The Guildhall art gallery is home to the City of Londons art collection and has been around since the 17th century.
From here, walk along the first alley on the right, which is lined with bollards painted with the City of London crest. You should see a gold pavement disc before you reach it.
At the end, take a left and a bit further along on the right, you should see an alley with Masons Avenue written above it.
Mason’s Avenue is a narrow alley lined with shops and a pub with Tudor decor (which is apparently fake). It is named as such as it was originally the home to one of the City’s Livery Companies (the Masons).
There is some very interesting history about this street. Or more specifically, the pub at the end. The Old Doctor Butler’s Head. It is one of the City of Londons most historic pubs, first established in 1610 (then rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666). There were a number of them built, however, this is the last one standing.
It is named after Dr Butler. He is a 17th century doctor who devised ‘miracle cures’ which included dropping people from a trap door into the River Thames. He claimed to cure epilepsy by firing a pistol near patients heads. The theory was that it scared the epilepsy out of them.
He wasn’t very qualified, however, King George I was a big fan and appointed him court physician. He went on to acquire a number of pubs to sell his own concoction of medicinal ale to cure gastric ailments.
N.B. The pub no longer sells this ale.
At the end of the alley, turn left and a bit further along you will see Girdlers Hall on the left. You can’t miss it. It’s a small house with a well manicured lawn, nestled between the modern glass buildings of the City.
The Girdlers’ Hall is home to the Girdlers’ Company which is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London (along with the Masons mentioned earlier). They specialised in girdle and belt making, however, these things aren’t in demand like they were in medieval times, so the company now works as a charitable body.
If you continue along the same road, you will hit London Wall (a bigger road). So, the London Wall was a defensive wall built by the Romans, and until the later middle ages, it marked the boundary of the City of London. So what does a road have to do with an ancient wall? Well, this road runs along the course of the old wall, and a bit later on you will see some remains of the wall.
For now, it’s just a busy road.
Cross over the London Wall and turn left. There will be an opening to the right with some stairs. This is where the TFL website got it wrong. The stairs they tell you to go up are not these ones. To be fair, there is so much construction work going on and things are changing. The stairs they want you to go up did use to be there.
Anyway, you go up these stairs and follow it around as it heads into the Barbican Estate.
Now this is where things get interesting. The Barbican has quite a complex layout with many entrances and walkways. I challenge anyone to enter the Barbican and not get lost.
I will do my best to make sure you don’t get lost though.
So, the Barbican is made up of the a Performing Arts Centre (Barbican Centre), and residential complex (Barbican Estate).
Fun fact: It is a Grade II listed building….and has been voted the ugliest building in London. It’s also very expensive to live there.
Fun Fact 2: There are yellow lines painted on the ground to help people not get lost.
Walk through the Barbican in the City of London
Upon entering the Barbican Estate, turn right (away from the yellow line on the ground) and follow the outer wall all the way around. You will pick up the yellow line along here.
As you approach this tunnel and stairs, go into the tunnel. Continue following the yellow line as it turns left.
Keep on this walkway in a straight line as you go over Gilbert bridge, with lovely views to the lake below. At the end of Gilbert bridge do a little zigzag, left then right to then walk along the Postern Highwalk.
The Postern becomes Albion Highwalk as you leave the original Barbican, and it becomes more of a modern shopping plaza.
If you are following the yellow lines, it will divide along here. You take the first right onto Bastion Highwalk.
The real London Wall
As you walk out onto the bridge you will see both to the right and left, the original wall of the City of London.
Continue the walk following the yellow line as it curves to the left towards a green circle, passing by the Museum of London and some art installations.
Fun Fact: The museum of London is the worlds largest urban history museum.
As you walk around the circle, take the second exit along a bridge, then down the stairs.
TFL website says the handrails of the bridge are painted yellow. They are not.
Walk towards St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London
At street level, you will be at a roundabout. Take the first right along Aldersgate street. You will walk past this lovely old blue police box…and Little Britain.
When you get towards the end of this road where it splits into two, St Pauls underground station should be ahead, and the Dome of St Pauls Cathedral visible above to the right.
Fun fact: The dome is one of the highest in the world.
This next bit is where TFL’s description and map don’t match. So follow me.
Follow the road as it curves to the right, then stay on it straight and a bit further along, take the left on the other side of the road onto Queens Head Passage.
From here you get an incredible view of St Paul’s Cathedral ahead.
Walk down Queen’s Head Passage, then take the first right onto Paternoster Square. In here you will see a number of monuments and sculptures, surrounded by shops and bars and the London Stock Exchange.
Paternoster (Shepherd and sheep) – A 1975 bronze sculpture by Elisabeth Frink.
Paternoster square column – Designed by Whitfield Partners and erected in 2003. If you look at the top, you will see a gold flame design. It acts as a memorial for both the Great Fire of London and the WW2 blitz. It is illuminated by fibre optic lighting at night.
Fun fact: Functionally, it serves as a ventilation shaft for the service road running beneath the square.
Temple Bar Gate – A massive stone arch way which actually didn’t come from here. It was originally completed in 1672 and lived on Fleet Street at Temple Bar. Explains the name. Temple Bar was the principle ceremonial entrance to the City of London.
It was moved here in 2004.
Walk around St Paul’s Cathedral
Next, you walk under Temple Bar Gate, with St Pauls Cathedral ahead, then follow the path as it leads around St Pauls Cathedral to the right. The cathedral will be on your left.
You will walk past the famous steps to the western entrance of the Cathedral.
Then continue around to reach the south entrance to the cathedral.
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most famous sights in London. It is a working church with daily service, and is open to the public (at the time of writing, the tourist fee is £20). I have not been inside recently, in fact, my memories of it are coming here on school trips as a child. Basically, I have not been inside since I was a child.
Fun fact 1: From 1710 – 1963, it was the tallest building in London.
Fun fact 2: Lots of important and Royal stuff is celebrated here. Including the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Fun Fact 3: It is a Grade I listed building and there are rules as to how things around it are constructed. You may notice that we have some oddly shaped skyscrapers. They are shaped as such so as not to obstruct the view from St Paul’s Cathedral.
Walk towards the Millennium bridge
Directly across from the south entrance to the cathedral, you should see some grassy bits (Carter Lane Gardens), and further along, the pedestrian square with Millennium Bridge in the distance.
Now walk towards it.
Fun Fact 1: Designed and built for (you guessed it) the Millennium.
Fun Fact 2: It has earned the nickname ‘wobbly bridge’ because, well, it wobbles. In fact, on opening day, it wobbled so much it had to be shut down. It was then shut for 2 years whilst they made it more safe.
Walking through the square, down odd steps, you will pass these ball sculptures. I walk past here a lot and I’m still not sure what they are.
Walking towards the London City skyscrapers
Now, you are probably wondering where the skyscrapers are that I have mentioned. Well, they are coming next.
Walk down the pedestrian area, then when you reach the main road, turn left onto Queen Victoria street.
As you walk along this road, you will get a view of the skyscrapers up ahead. Continue along this road which will lead you back to the start at Number 1 Poultry.
Top tip: Make sure to look back at some point along here for another sneak peak view of St Pauls Cathedral.
Final thoughts on the circular walk around the City of London
I know I have mentioned that I work in the area, so know it quite well. Well, what I didn’t know was the history behind everything that I see on a regular basis. They were just things I walked past.
In writing this blog post and researching stuff, I was truly fascinated and will definitely look at things in the City a lot differently now that I know.
More walks around London
Continuing on with the Jubilee Walkway, this route is connected to the Eastern loop, and the Jubilee Loop. have done them, but not written them. It’s been a while so I think I need to go do them again. I can’t remember them well enough to write about.
I have also written about two of my favourite walks along the River Thames on my other website, that girl outdoors. One is along the Embankment in Westminster which gives you great views of all the big London stuff. The other is quieter and takes you along the Chelsea Embankment and through the gorgeous Battersea Park.
If you fancy seeing the city skyline views, then I recommend the Parkland Walk in North London. It’s about 4-5 miles long and nice and easy, taking you along a woodland trail, with some incredible views thrown in.