At least once a month I make a trip into the city early on a Sunday morning when there are few people about, it feels more intimate, just me and London town. I take photographs and wander around the markets, walking the streets in search of new discoveries. It’s my me time, where I explore and rediscover my hometown and the big bonus is I usually have no plan so I can go off-piste. Depending on my mood or how energetic or lazy I feel I first decide on transport, if I have some time I take the bus and sit on the top deck and try to bag the front seat for a wider perspective 😉 then I decide a general direction.
Trainers are a must as I have often walked 15 miles or more on a Sunday whilst out exploring. One of my Sunday routes when I have visitors staying and I am asked for a tour that mixes sights (Tower Bridge, Shard, Daigon Alley etc.) with fun is to head to London Bridge early ahead of the crowds. I grab a quick and easy breakfast of toast before leaving, nothing exotic as there will be plenty of great food to sample during the day. The first market we will hit wont be open until 11 and we will be ready for a snack by then.
Alight at London Bridge and exit onto Tooley Street, cross over and enter into the Hay’s Galleria via Hay’s Lane. The Covered Galleria here is beautiful with a mixture of shops and eateries and little trinket vendor carts. Don’t forget to look up and admire the spectacular roof! Head to the end of the covered glass canopy and marvel at the views of the city. Turn right and on towards HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge where perhaps another coffee may be called for “plenty of establishments” and it’s a worthy pit-stop to take in the views. Then we head to Maltby Street Market which is under 10 minutes walk away and opens at 11am. Mainly food and drink here but it’s well worth a visit, top tip is to walk all the way through and check out what’s on offer and then retrace your steps and buy whatever takes your fancy. The vendors are all really nice and most are happy for you to sample their offerings before you buy.
Markets have been a mainstay of London life since Roman times with the first one reputed to have been based near to the location of Leadenhall market “Daigon Alley to many” which is a stones throw from Bank Station. Leadenhall isn’t open on a Sunday but it’s worth a quick walk through for the beauty of the market itself and the Victorian covered roof and it’s on our way up towards Liverpool Street. Where we cut across Bishopsgate and dart through Spitalfields market, we are not on the clock but we do want to get to our final destination before it closes just after 3pm. So onwards via the Ten Bells pub on Commercial Street (significant associations with a famous London Son, Jack the Ripper) then down Fournier Street and on to Brick Lane.
Don’t get sidetracked by Brick Lane “it’s easily done” but if you do you may lose out on our final destination….. but you can always wait for another Sunday as the year is full of them 😉
You must try Beigel Bake for a coffee or Tea and a Bagel (Salt Beef or Salmon and Cream Cheese I can recommend) but perhaps on your way back as queues on a Sunday are often the norm. As it is open 24 hours, you have plenty of time. Cross over Bethnal Green Road and literally walk towards anyone coming towards you with flowers or plants, follow those in front of you or better still use your satnav. I know the way like the back of my hand over car parks and other shortcuts but I suggest google maps as I’d make you go wrong, for sure!!!
Columbia Road is where the flower market is with lots of quirky little shops; cafes, pot shops, ceramics, art galleries etc. I have been coming here for years and it has changed, but the flower market is still the same, it’s only open on a Sunday and it’s an institution. Be warned it is a tight squeeze through the flower stalls so a little meditation before you venture into the crowd and don’t get vexed or annoyed as that’s part of it’s charm. If you have mobility issues or are claustrophobic then do take someone with you who can shout Oi on your behalf…..
One other new Sunday market that has just opened in October is the Flat Iron Square Flea Market near London Bridge, which I haven’t been to yet but is on my list. So perhaps also check that out before I get to it in November and let me know what you think? Enjoy!