Running around Westminster, London

On the evening of Tuesday, March 10th, I ran my 600th ever Runkeeper activity. It is fitting that for such a milestone, I was in London, where the distance for the modern marathon is said to have been formalized at 42.195km.

Staying on Belgrave Road in Pimlico, I was ideally placed to see some of the major sights of Westminster for free (at least from the outside).

Darkness is not so conducive to great photos when using an iPhone camera: apologies for any blurred images. I ran a slightly shorter version of the route in early evening light a couple of days later. Photos from both runs are included and the grey pins along each route represent the places where I stopped to take pictures.

From Runkeeper app
Tue, 10 Mar 2015
From Runkeeper app
Thu, 12 Mar 2015

I hope this article inspires visitors and residents of London to take a run or a walk around some of the major sights.

Buckingham Palace

This large and ornate palace has been the official London residence of the British monarchy since the 1830s. It is where the Queen stays when she is in London. Here are 40 facts about Buckingham Palace.

buckingham palace
Buckingham Palace by night
buckingham palace, london
In front of Buckingham Palace
buckingham palace, london
A good way to ruin a nice view!

Trafalgar Square

A short run up The Mall (not as interesting to American teenagers as the name might suggest), and we find ourselves at Trafalgar Square. The square is home to the National Portrait Gallery. Like all public museums and art galleries in the UK, it is free to enter, though I am not sure if the staff and patrons would appreciate a sweaty runner wandering around the exhibits.

The other famous sight in Trafalgar Square is Nelson’s Column (a tribute to a 19th Century naval war hero). And the square itself takes its name from a battle in 1805 won by Admiral Nelson.

Each year on New Year’s Eve, the square is filled by revelers awaiting the countdown.

The image of the tall statue on its column with buses or taxis passing by its foot is one of the iconic images of London and features on many a postcard. I tried to emulate this with my photos, though I will never make a career out of photography.

London, Trafalgar Square, black taxi, double decker bus
A running cliche: double decker and black Hackney cab in Trafalgar Square
London, Trafalgar Square, black taxi, double decker bus
Trafalgar Square: Early evening

Crossing the Thames

After leaving Trafalgar Square, for the first run, I passed Charing Cross station on the Strand and ran over Waterloo Bridge, stopping to take photos of the cityscape over the river. Being on the river bend, this is said to be the best spot to take photos of London at ground level. Unfortunately, only one of my photos came out. So you’ll have to go and see for yourself now…

London’s famous river is said to derive from Celtic origins and to mean ‘dark’. It is surprisingly similar to the Russian темно, which also means ‘dark’. 

London Eye
London Eye seen from Waterloo Bridge


For my second run, I took a slightly shorter route, cutting one kilometre off the overall distance and taking one of the Golden Jubilee footbridges that runs parallel to the Hungerford railway bridge. Likewise, I took a few pictures over the river.

London Eye, Houses of Parliament
London Eye and the Houses of Parliament

London Eye
London Eye from Golden Jubilee Bridge
London, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge
Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge

London Eye

While I didn’t climb on the London Eye (the big Ferris Wheel on the banks of the Thames), I have been on there before and do recommend spending money on this for the wonderful views it affords visitors.

London Eye
Approaching the London Eye

Houses of Parliament

Coming up to the Houses of Parliament, I was presented with two choices:

(1) stay on the other side of the river to get a fuller shot of the building, or

(2) cross Westminster Bridge to get a closer view of the political seat, and also to pass alongside Westminster Abbey, where Prince William married Kate a few years ago.

I opted for the first choice because I didn’t feel like negotiating the tourists that dawdle along the road looking up at the buildings and taking photos. Don’t judge me for my double standards!

London, Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament in black and white
Westminster Bridge, London Eye
Westminster Bridge and London Eye

Along the river and over Vauxhall Bridge

The last part of the run was down along the river and back to Pimlico, crossing at Vauxhall Bridge. As I managed to sneak a little bit of Russian trivia in here earlier, I am now going to end on a segue into my very favourite piece of Russky general knowledge:

When Tsar Nicholas I visited London, he saw the sign “Vauxhall” as he was pulling into the station on the train. He thought it was the general English word for station and took the word into Russian when he adopted railways there. To this day, the Russian word for railway station is вокзал.