Baker Street – Swiss Cottage Walk – 26.04.2014

“The game is afoot.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of the Abbey Grange

A game was indeed afoot, we were on the trail of Baker Street once again. We were picking up we had left off just a month or so ago, so we could explore this infamous area. With my deerstalker hat on and my investigating shoes, I was about to discover yet more about London and what it had in store for us… The detective Sherlock Holmes may have found his cases them “Elementary” but uncovering London is a whole different thing. Outside Baker Street Underground Station we were greeted by a rather handsome bronze statuette of Mr Holmes in all his glory. The great detective was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who based his character Holmes on Dr. Joseph Bell. He was a surgeon who had an ability to diagnose his patients before he had the full facts of their case in question. He introduced companions such as Dr John Watson and the police detectives Lestrade and Gregson who often called on Holmes for his assistance. Doyle, wrote the stories from 1887 until 1927, although there is one famous story where Holmes meets his nemesis Moriarty at Reichenbach falls and Holmes could have disappeared for some time… perhaps that one you should read!

Walking on from Baker Street Station, where the worlds first underground railway was built, we found ourselves approaching a large green domed building. This was “Madame Tussauds”, where we can rub shoulders with the rich and famous, albeit with their Waxwork lookalike! Madame Tussaud started life in the early C18th in France creating models for the sister of Louis XVI. The French revolution changed the career of Tussaud and eventually the models became a traveling exhibition, which came to London in the C19th. The display was known as the “Baker Street Bazaar”, where people had could pay a mere sixpence to get in to meet and greet a model of the rich and famous of their day. It moved to the green domed building in 1884. Passing on from the famous waxworks, we shortly came across the “Royal Academy of Music”.

From 2014 – 26.04.2014 – Baker Street – Swiss Cottage Walk

We could not hear a myriad of sounds emanating from the building which was a shame, because I almost expected it, but I suppose it is soundproofed 😉 . The Academy has been in existence since 1822 and has a set of wonderful graduates that are too numerous to mention, but some of them include Sir Elton John, Annie Lennox, Sir Henry Wood, Katherine Jenkins and Dame Myra Hess. We continued to wander down the Marylebone road, which despite the lovely surroundings of the Georgian houses that were along the sides, the traffic and it fumes did not really make this part of the walk that enjoyable. We therefore decided to take a diversion towards “Regents Park”,  where we decided to take a short rest and have a picnic in the park on the warm sunny afternoon, it was a such bliss (and highly recommended I can assure you!)

Lands held by Henry VIII, which were used for hunting up until 1646, eventually undertook a transformation later in its life when John Nash set about to redesign the entire area. Nash was architect to the crown and the Prince Regent, he redeveloped the landscape and even planned for a second home as a summer palace for a Prince Regent. This, however, never happened and eventually in early C19th, the general public were allowed into some of the park and for a few days a week. Today only 2 villas remain from John Nash’s original concept of the park, which is a shame. I wonder what it would have been like when it was first created, was it as beautiful as it is now?

From 2014 – 26.04.2014 – Baker Street – Swiss Cottage Walk

Sitting by one of the gorgeous stone fountains, we let the sun beam down on us and watch the gentle breeze sprinkle the water spray on the plants beside us. However, we could not laze about forever, so we decided to keep walking. It really is a lovely park, blooming flowers and amazingly kept grass. I am not surprised it was so busy with people jogging, taking there dog for a walk or just enjoying a short stroll! As we past through the formal gardens we came out into more open land, were people seemed to be playing cricket and running around enjoying the sun! As we kept strolling along the path, I looked on my left and spotted through some iron railings some beautiful deer (or at least I think they were!). We were walking past London Zoo, which seems to be very odd next to a public park! At the early C19th the London Zoological society established a menagerie in the park, it was eventually granted a Royal charter by King George in 1829. The public were not allowed into the zoo for another two decades and among its regular visitors was Charles Darwin, the zoo has changed over the years and its focus on saving endangered species. When we peeked through the next set of railings we were treated to watch to wonderful penguins as it was “World Penguin Day”!

It almost felt sad to come out of the park as it was such a lovely afternoon, but we soon treated with walking across the “Regents Canal”. John Nash who designed Regents Park, was on the board of directors for the canal company and was able to incorporate this stretch of water which was built to join up with the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal. If we had chosen to walk the canal it would have led us to Little Venice where we had walked the a few weeks ago! It is sometimes nice to see the canal from a different angle. Once we had cross the bridge we were once again out onto the road, where I spotted the “Belsize Walk”, if followed its entire route would take us to Hampstead Heath. Something to save for another day!

From 2014 – 26.04.2014 – Baker Street – Swiss Cottage Walk

Across the way was “Primrose Hill”, another branch of “Regents Park”, which makes up its mighty 197 hectares. When we were at the base of the hill, we did not realise how high it was, particularly as the trees surrounding it seemed to hide it’s slope. The hill was captured in one authors imagination…

“I missed my way among the streets, and presently saw down a long avenue, in the half-light of the early dawn, the curve of Primrose Hill. On the summit, towering up to the fading stars, was a third Martian, erect and motionless like the others.”
The War Of The Worlds,1898, H.G.Wells

As no martian stood staring down on us, we decided to climb it. We were well rewarded, as it has a spectacular view from the top. William Blake is quoted here to “I have conversed with the spiritual Sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill”. The panorama maybe of the City of London and other assorted buildings but nevertheless it is still spectacular. The hill also boasts something else dramatic where Iolo Morganwg founded “Gorsedd of the Bards” who were supposedly to be guardians of the language and culture of Wales. 🙂

We walked from here on the roads mostly to Swiss Cottage. The Swiss Cottage was originally a coaching inn which was built in the 1840’s when there was a craze for “cottage ornée”. The area had a number of well-to-do residential mansions, but gradually the place altered with the road being widened and underground station being built. The pub is Grade II listed and still serves the odd drop of beer! We finished our afternoon walk at Swiss cottage, without a drink at the cottage I hasten too add!

The Route we walked is as follows –

View all the photos by clicking on the photo below –

2014 – 26.04.2014 – Baker Street – Swiss Cottage Walk