I certainly see the points of some of the London walking detractors, and I have previously written about some of my biggest bugbears about walking in London. However, I feel I would be doing London a serious disservice if I didn't try to convince you that it honestly can be a really lovely, and very interesting, place to walk.
I'd say it's quite a challenge to walk around central London without coming across something interesting to see.
My walk to work obviously leaves me spoilt for choice as I pass such landmarks as the Gherkin, St Pauls, The Shard, Somerset House, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament (that's not even all of them!). Even on a day when I'm tired and feeling a bit like I'd rather be at home than on my way to work, such sights can't help but lift the spirits. There's something of the film set about them - it's surreal to regularly be walking through the middle of them.
Even walking through less central areas of London though, I find there are still interesting sights to be seen. One of the things I love most at the weekend is wandering around the lovely neighbourhoods of Islington on my way to get a coffee in Angel. All the beautiful houses and architecture that you can see almost anywhere in London make taking a bit of trouble to map a route through the quieter residential streets very worthwhile.
Yes this may not be the beautiful landscapes of the Lakes (and don't get me wrong, I love those dearly) but there is another kind of beauty in London. Urban, architectural, but still beautiful.
Think London is all buildings and urban sprawl? Surprisingly, there is a lot of green space in London with 8 Royal Parks and a variety of other parks, squares and smaller green spaces. The picture above is me in Epping Forest - doesn't look like most people's view of London, right?
Don't get me wrong, a park can't satisfy all my cravings for walking in a greener setting. There's something wild about the northern English countryside which London parks - and indeed much of the countryside surrounding London - are entirely without. However, this doesn't detract from enjoying them. Indeed, they feel like a safe and easy escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, where you can stretch your legs, stride out and (if you're lucky) spot some of the 'wilder' wildlife of London.
One of my favourite parks - remembered very fondly from my early childhood - is Richmond Park. I challenge anyone not to be excited by getting up close to both red and fallow deer, which can be found in abundance all around the park. If you're lucky, you may also be able to spot some green parrakeets, along with the more expected wildlife - squirrels, rabbits and a whole range of birds. Richmond Park feels like a real escape, but at the same time offers amazing views right back into central London.
"The St Lawrence is water, the Mississippi is muddy water, but the Thames
is liquid history"
John Burns MP
I couldn't write about walking in London without writing about the Thames. Of all the places in London that I love to walk, along the Thames is my favourite. Particularly the area stretching from London Bridge around to Southwark Bridge on the south bank of the river.
The description of the Thames as 'liquid history' could not be more apt along this particular stretch of the river. From London Bridge, you can see down river to the ever impressive Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf beyond it, with the Shard looming up right above you and the Tower of London not far distant.
Walking along, it is like ticking off the sights of London one by one - the Globe Theatre, St Pauls, the Tate Modern, the Oxo Tower, Somerset House, Royal Festival Hall, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and just beyond Westminster Abbey, followed shortly by Lambeth Palace and further on Battersea Power Station looming.
It doesn't matter how often I walk along this route, the light, the weather, it all changes and affects how it looks and how it feels. At the moment, it couldn't get much more festive, with lights decking out the path ahead of Christmas.
Even if I can't convince you of walking in London more generally, I hope that you'll someday get the chance to walk along the Thames in central London - particularly during the week or at a quieter time when you can take it in without too many other people. I promise it is worth it.