Today I want to bring you my self-guided Clerkenwell walking tour. This area is one of my favorite places in central London, and walking is a great way to take in all the details that make it special. There’s a map, too.
Clerkenwell Walking Tour
Clerkenwell is right in the heart of London but often gets overlooked in favor of neighboring areas like the City and Bloomsbury.
It’s worth a visit for its vibrant markets, historic streets, and food scene. Clerkenwell and neighboring Smithfield have a lot of secret places and quiet corners to discover, and a walk is the perfect way to find them.
My favorite place in Clerkenwell is Exmouth Market. This street has some of the best restaurants in London and there’s a vibrant atmosphere day and night.
But it’s not the only exciting place in the area, and you’ll explore a lot more on the walk.
My self-guided Clerkenwell walking tour will show you around this London neighborhood and the surrounding areas. While you go, you’ll see everything from historic markets to some of the oldest surviving buildings in London.
This part of the city is known for its great restaurants, pubs, and cafes, so you can easily stop for a meal, snack, or drink on the way if you want to.
Self-Guided London Walking Tour
This loveliest of London walks starts at Farringdon station. You can arrive by tube, train, bus, or on foot from other parts of central London.
When you exit the station, make your way east to Cowcross Street. Turn right and walk down it, taking in the restaurants and cafes as you go. You’ll start to get a feel for the area’s food scene here.
There are lots of little alleys and passageways off Cowcross Street, so make sure to keep an eye out for places like Faulkners Alley and White Horse Alley to duck into as you walk. Peter’s Lane is particularly pretty.
When you reach the end of Cowcross Street, turn left to head up St John Street. You’ll go by famous restaurants like St. John along the way. It was a pioneer in the nose-to-tail dining movement and is a popular place to eat in the area.
After you pass the restaurant, continue your Clerkenwell walking tour by taking a slight left on St John’s Lane.
At the end you’ll find yourself under a historic stone archway called St John’s Gate that houses the Museum of the Order of Saint John. It tells story of the ancient religious military order from the 11th century to today.
You can visit the museum if you’d like to, or continue your Clerkenwell walk by going under the arch and into St John’s Square.
When you reach Clerkenwell Road, cross over where it’s safe and keep walking north through St John’s Square when you get to the other side.
You’ll pass by more of the neighborhood’s famous restaurants and bars here, and you can peer into or visit the cloister garden of the Museum of the Order of St John as well.
When you reach the top of St John Square, head up the skinny lane that is Jerusalem Passage. Here you’ll find one of London’s most famous sushi restaurants and one of the city’s great international pubs.
When you get to Aylesbury Street, turn around and retrace your steps down Jerusalem Passage. Once you’ve returned to St John Square, take your first left on Albemarle Way. This skinny street will bring you back to St John Street.
Turn right when you get there and walk all the way down to Charterhouse Street. You’ll pass by more of the area’s famous restaurants as you go.
When you reach Charterhouse Street, continue your Clerkenwell walking tour by turning left. Here you’ll start to explore Smithfield, one of the most historic parts of London.
As you walk, you’ll notice the colorful gates of Smithfield Market across the street.
Dedicated to meat, this market dates back to the 10th century and is the UK capital’s sole remaining wholesale market in continuous operation since medieval times.
Take your first left where Charterhouse Street divides, and head up towards Charterhouse Square. On the way you’ll pass the famous Fox & Anchor pub and other neighborhood favorites.
When you arrive in Charterhouse Square, you’ll be surrounded by historic buildings. On your left you’ll see The Charterhouse, one of the great places to take in London’s architectural history.
Built in the 14th century on the site of a burial ground for victims of the Black Death, The Charterhouse has served as everything from a Carthusian monastery to an almshouse since its founding.
You can walk around the square and take in the rest of the buildings before making your way back to Charterhouse Street. When you reach Lindsey Street, turn left and walk down to Long Lane.
If you want to pop into Smithfield Market to take a look, you can do so via Buyers Walk East on your way. Otherwise you can admire the painted metalwork from the outside.
Once at Long Lane, continue your Clerkenwell walking tour by turning right and going past restaurants like Enoteca Rabezzana.
Turn left down the narrow passage that is Rising Sun Court and follow it to Cloth Fair. You’ll see the stunning facade of the 12th-century Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great at the end.
When you reach Cloth Fair, turn right. On your right you’ll pass by what’s known as the oldest house in the City of London, and you can peek down lanes like Cloth Court and Barley Mow Passage as you walk.
This is one of the most historic streets in the UK capital, so it’s worth taking your time as you go.
When you get to West Smithfield, you’ll be in a large square. The middle of it is where grisly public executions once took place in London. Scottish hero William Wallace was hanged, drawn, and quartered here in 1305.
Take a left on West Smithfield and then another quick left through St Bartholomew’s Gatehouse. This building dates to 1595 and was one of the few spared by the Great Fire of London in 1666.
When you’re through, you’ll be able to explore the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great and its churchyard. This is the oldest parish church in London and there’s an amazing sense of history here.
Back out on West Smithfield, turn left and continue around the square. Keep an eye out for the William Wallace Memorial on your left as you go.
Once back in front of Smithfield Market, take a left to walk through the market via Grand Avenue and admire the red phone boxes as you go.
Then take a left on Charterhouse Street and pass by more famous restaurants and over more streets until you get to Ely Place. Turn right when you arrive.
Hatton Garden Area
Ely Place is one of the most beautiful historic streets in the area, and it’s home to the 13th-century St Etheldreda’s Church.
Originally the chapel of a large estate that housed the Bishops of Ely, it’s one of only two London buildings that date from King Edward I’s reign.
Spend some time exploring Ely Place, then head down Ely Court, a passage that leads to one of the best hidden pubs in London. The Ye Olde Mitre was a London filming location for the Guy Ritchie movie Snatch.
Once out the other side of Ely Court, turn right on Hatton Garden. Here you’ll find yourself in the heart of London’s diamond district.
Walk up to Greville Street, turning right when you get there. When you reach Bleeding Heart Yard, take a right and explore the hidden courtyard. It was the home of the Plornish family in the Charles Dickens novel Little Dorrit.
Once you’ve explored Bleeding Heart Yard, continue your Clerkenwell walking tour by going back out to Greville Street and turning left.
Walk down to Leather Lane, where you can turn right to find yourself in a bustling street market if it’s a weekday. If not, you’ll still be surrounded by some of London’s best coffee shops.
When you get to the end of Leather Lane, cross Clerkenwell Road where it’s safe and continue walking straight up Eyre Street Hill.
When you get to the end, turn right on Warner Street, then left on Baker’s Row. This street will take you up to Farringdon Road.
On the corner of Baker’s Row and Farringdon Road, you’ll see The Eagle, which is known for being the first gastropub in London.
Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell
Turn left on Farringdon Road and continue your Clerkenwell walking tour by heading up to Exmouth Market. Turn right on Exmouth Market and let your taste buds guide you down the street. This is a great place for a meal or snack.
At the end of Exmouth Market, turn left on Rosoman Street and follow it north as it becomes Amwell Street. This is a classic residential street in Clerkenwell.
Walk up Amwell Street until you get to Inglebert Street. Turn right on Inglebert Street and enjoy the views of St Marks Church, Clerkenwell as you walk towards Myddelton Square Gardens.
When you reach the church, go around the square in any direction and exit onto Chadwell Street on the opposite side.
Continue your Clerkenwell walking tour by following Chadwell Street until you reach St John Street. Turn left when you get there and follow it north as it becomes Islington High Street.
Soon you’ll arrive at Angel station, where your self-guided Clerkenwell walk ends. You can pick up the tube here or spend more time exploring the area.
Clerkenwell Walking Tour Details
Map of the first half of the walk: https://goo.gl/maps/NbBfik7hwyHgAF1n6
Map of the second half of the walk: https://goo.gl/maps/Z49AmbgwiVE1Zwxt9
I’ve written a lot more London walks and pulled them together in my London walking tours blog post.
There are other walks to be discovered in London’s Hidden Walks, too. You can get it here. There are additional ideas in my London walking books post as well.
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