Responsible tourism with Take Me to London

The current worldwide situation made us realise that responsible and sustainable tourism is the Future.

Suddenly people became more aware of nature, we can hear the birds singing, we notice the wildlife more and – when we start travelling again – venturing outdoors will be a safer option. We also realised the importance of the community, and we know that supporting small local business should be a priority.

I have always loved the outdoors and have been hiking for many years. This little project I am about to tell you about has been on my mind for quite some while.

                 (On the Pilgrims way recce walk  with Jill who is one of my ‘ partner in crime ‘ when it comes to hiking )


I have been a member of a hiking group for years. Their hikes vary between 14-18 miles. I enjoy their trips very much, however as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide and history buff, I always wanted to know the history of the places where we were hiking and to have some time to take pictures. These are things that hiking groups normally lack.

Having this in mind, I signed up for a Hill and Moorland Leader Award Training Course. It consisted of 3 very intensive days surrounded by beautiful scenery in the Peak District.  It was both fun and a challenge. I successfully completed the course and the forced break from work gave me time to think and create new tours combining two of my passions, guiding and hiking.

The trips created are all day trips from London. We will be travelling by train and the walking distance will not be more than 10 miles, to historic locations allowing you to take in beautiful scenery, familiarise yourself with the English countryside and learn about the history of the places. The locations chosen will be interesting for both international and domestic markets. Public tours for the domestic market are launched on ‘Meetup’ under the name ‘London Historic Walkers’;    and there will be walks which adventurous international travellers can book on our website. Groups will be small, thus enhancing the experience. For private group bookings please get in touch with us.



Our first tour from Dover to Deal was a great success. Stunning scenery combined with historical sites of the First and Second World Wars, Roman Invasions, Henry VIII, Smugglers, Boatmen, Swimmers and more.

Why hike with us?  It will be a lovely walk, easy terrain, charming English Countryside accompanied by many stories and a great deal of history. The hikes will be led by a Blue Badge Tourist Guide who has both successfully completed the Hill and Moorland Leader Award Training Course and is a member of the British Mountaineering Council.

Initially we are offering 4 tours – with more to come:

Runnymede and Windsor Historic Hike 

White Cliffs and Castles Historic Hike

Pilgrim for a Day Historic Hike 

Sissinghurst Circular Walk 


Check out our website for more and sign up for our newsletter so we may advise you when the tours will be starting :

by Ildi 

Runnymede and the Magna Carta

The Story of the Magna Carta


Monday 15 June marked 805 years since King John sealed Magna Carta at Runnymede.

Magna Carta, meaning the Great Charter, held the King accountable to the rule of law, just as it did his subjects. In total it was made up of 63 clauses, covering law, liberty, and the church.

The most famous and important of these clauses is :

‘No man shall be arrested or imprisoned except by the judgment of their equals and by the law of the land.’

To  no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

It was implemented through a council of 25 barons. It was the origin of parliament and democracy.’


What led him to sign the great charter?

King John was a highly unpopular King. He was a womaniser, he was always trying to put people in their place, fought expensive wars with France and lost lands, He imposed heavy taxes on the barons, had taken away their castles, their lands and, above all, he had established a new kind of law court presided over by the King, to which business – that previously had gone to the courts of the barons – now went.The barons rebelled, captured London, met with King John at Runnymede on the 15th of June 1215 and forced him to sign the Great Charter.

And although Magna Carta was intended to create peace between King John and his rebellious barons, England was plunged into civil war after the Pope declared the Charter invalid.

When King John died in 1216, nine year old Henry III took to the throne. To keep the peace, Magna Carta was reissued several times during the 13th century, until it was finally made part of English law.

In the 1600s, English lawyers used Magna Carta to challenge King Charles I. At this time, the King could ignore parliament and imprison anyone who opposed him. Inspired by Magna Carta, Sir Edward Coke wrote the Petition of Right, which set out to limit the King’s powers.

Magna Carta was taken overseas to America by the first British settlers. Many American colonies based their own laws on Magna Carta. During the American Independence war Magna Carta became a symbol of American liberty, and its principles were echoed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

In the 1800s the Chartists, inspired by Magna Carta, created a ‘People’s Charta’ to fight for all men to have the vote.

Nelson Mandela declared his admiration for Magna Carta and for Western democracy, which he contrasted with the oppressive South African regime.

Perhaps the most significant influence of Magna Carta today is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Written after the atrocities of World War II, the declaration states that people around the world are protected by fundamental human rights, regardless of their citizenship, race, gender or beliefs.


Let’s look at some of the memorials at Runnymede

Writ In Water

Designed by Mark Wallinger, this lovely artwork is based on Clause 39 of Magna Carta, and inspired perhaps by the inscription on John Keats’ grave monument. It combines sky, light and water creating a space for reflection both physically and contemplatively. I find this monument very peaceful, it is a lovely spot to sit down, observe and reflect.


Magna Carta Memorial

Designed by Edward Maufe and erected in 1957 by the American Bar Association.  It contains a pillar of English granite on which is inscribed “To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of Freedom Under Law”.


Steps of Individuality and JFK Memorial

The steps lead up the hill to the JFK memorial designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe. The theme is Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and the notion of life, death and spirit. The Pilgrim, an ordinary person, travels from his hometown representing this world to the top of Mount Zion and heaven. Visitors reach the memorial by treading a steep path of irregular granite steps, intended to symbolise a pilgrimage. There are 50 steps in total, representing the 50 States of USA.  Each step is different from all others, with the entire flight made from 60,000 hand-cut granite setts.


The Jurors

The Jurors artwork was commissioned to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. The sculptor Hew Locke created 12 bronze chairs each of which is decorated with symbols of past and present struggles for freedom, equality and the rule of law. The artist invites participants to sit, reflect upon and discuss the themes represented.

Chair 1: Lillie Lenton, wearing medals and bandages relating to the imprisonment and activism of suffragettes, Lenton’s image is derived from a 1912 surveillance photograph taken in Holloway Prison. In the early 1900s the Suffragettes used Magna Carta to argue that all women should also have the right to vote.

Chair 9: On the back of the ninth chair we find representations of ‘The Golden Rule’ which states you should treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. Versions of this concept are found in all major world religions and philosophies and the phrase is expressed on The Jurors in 14 different languages.



Chair 5 : On the back of the fifth chair is a portrait of poet Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American woman (1773)



Where can you see the Magna carta ?

There are four surviving copies of Magna Carta that were dispatched within the month to various bishops, and possibly sheriffs, throughout the Kingdom. The British Library has 2, there is one each in Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral.

If you would like to find out more and visit Runnymede, join us on our historical hiking tour from Runnymede to Windsor or get in touch with us for private tours.

The Last Kingdom and where to go in search of Alfred the Great

The Battle of Edington took place 1142 years ago in 878 AD between 6-12th of May.

It was a decisive battle between Alfred the Great and the Danes and it features in the Netflix series The Last Kingdom. A friend of mine, who worked as an extra, told me about the series and I got absolutely hooked on it.  The shows are based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories series of novels which are historical fiction, but many characters did exist.Let us look at them and their real story, where the series was filmed and where to go in search of Alfred the Great.

My friend as a Mercian soldier Series 4 Episode 8

Alfred – King of Wessex from 871 to c.  886 and King of the Anglo-Saxons from c.  886 to 899, a defender against Viking invasion and a social reformer; just few of the reasons why he is the only English monarch to be known as “the Great. He oversaw the conversion of Guthrum to Christianity which was also featured in the series.

Uhtred ‘s character was inspired on Uthred the Bold who was an existing person, however, he did not live during the reign of King Alfred. He was the ealdorman of all Northumbria from 1006 to 1016.  His ancient family ruled from the castle of Bamburgh on the Northumbrian coast.

Athelflaed – daughter of Alfred, Lady of Mercia. She was given the same education as her brothers, and the crises of her childhood must have given her a schooling in the realities of politics and war. It was Alfred who stopped the Vikings, but it was Aethelflaed and Edward who retook much of England. At the Battle of Wednesfield, probably near Tettenhall in the West Midlands, the northern Vikings were annihilated, shifting the balance of power. Aethelred her husband, Lord of Mercia, was much older than her unlike in the series. When he died probably in 911, the nobles accepted his wife as sole ruler, the Lady of the Mercians.

Aethelstan king of anglo-saxons, Edward’s son from his first marriage. As a child, Athelstan had been brought up in the care of his aunt, Aethelflaed, Lady of Mercia. He conquered the last Viking kingdom, York, and is regarded as the first true King of England.

Hild  – Her character was inspired by the Abbess of Hild of Whitby who lived between 614–680. In 664 Hild’s monastery hosted the Synod of Whitby, which set the course for the future of Christianity in England.

Cnut – There was a Cnut ruler of Northumbria from around 900 until 905, succeeding Siefredus and we believe he might have been the inspiration for Cnut in the series who is killed by Breda after the battle of Tettenhall.   You might also have heard of Cnut The Great, son of Sweyn Forkbeard who in the autumn of 1016, successfully invaded England.

Was it filmed in England? 

No. The series is filmed primarily in Hungary, with most scenes at the eight acres near Budapest owned by Korda Studios with its Medieval Village Set and surrounding mountains, forests, and lakes.

Sets recreating 10th century Winchester, the ancient capital of Wessex, and the Mercian city of Aegelsburg – now Aylesbury – were built in two places. The external sets were built near the village of Göböljárás, just over 30km west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest, with interiors created a few miles north of Budapest near the banks of the Danube bend. The locations for battles were near Budapest. There are no hedges to divide land and it has a sense of wildness. Welsh hills were the hills near Esztergom. The set of the medieval village which was used for the filming of the World Without End miniseries based on Ken Follett novel was extended and a Castle was added.

You can now visit the film set in Etyek at Korda Film Park  which opened on the 3rd of June 2020


Where to go in Search of Alfred?

British Library – You can see The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great.

Ashmolian Museum in Oxford where you can see Alfred’s Jewel as once attached to the base of a rod, probably made of wood. Its function was to be the handle for a pointer stick for following words when reading a book. In Series 2 Alfred hands it to his nephew Aethelwold for his travels through Mercia to Northumbria.


It was Alfred who established the city as the Capital of Wessex and turned it into the most important centre of art and learning. The stretch along the banks of the River Itchen is one of my favourite places in England.

Alfred’s remains are known to have been moved several times since he was buried in Winchester’s Old Minster in 899. They were moved in 904 to a new church to be alongside his wife and children, before being moved again to Hyde Abbey in 1110.The abbey was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 and studies indicate the tomb was robbed.

It is believed some bones were put on display in the 19th Century before being buried at St Bartholomew Church. The bones were exhumed in 2013 and examined but were found to belong to later centuries. Then in 2014 a section of human pelvis, carbon-dated to within the lifetimes of Alfred the Great and his son Edward the Elder, was found in Winchester in a cardboard box kept at Winchester Museum, having been excavated from the abbey site in 1999. Is it Alfred?  Who knows? It will always remain a mystery.


                          Get in touch with us if you fancy a guided tour in Winchester to learn more!


2 Days in London with a Blue Badge Guide

2 days in London with a Blue Badge Guide

Enjoy 2 days in London with a Blue Badge Guide!

Is it your first visit to London and you’re looking for things to do? What’s better than getting advice from a professional Blue Badge Guide?

Day 1:

Many people visit London owing to its famous Royal Family. So why not start your day with a visit to the Westminster area, also known as Royal London? Take a picture in front of Buckingham Palace and spot the balcony where the Royal Family makes their public appearances.

Walk through St James Park to Parliament Square and visit Westminster Abbey. It is a must!  The Abbey has been the Coronation church since 1066 and it is the location of Kate Middleton’s and Prince William’s marriage in 2011. It is also where the famous scientist Stephen Hawking was buried.

Do you fancy some Fish and Chips for lunch?  I suggest Poppies in Soho. You will get the real English experience with retro vibes, not to mention it has the best Fish and Chips in London with Fresh Fish coming straight from Billingsgate Fish Market.

In the afternoon you might want to visit a Museum or Art Gallery. There is a wealth of them to choose from. The National Gallery if you enjoy Paintings. Tate Modern for Modern Art or the British Museum are the most famous of them.

Head to the West End to enjoy a theatre play in the evening. The biggest hit at the Moment is SIX. A musical where the Six Wives Of Henry VIII take to the microphone to Tell Their Tales In an Uplifting Musical. Or go to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, it has such a special atmosphere. A truly unforgettable experience.

Next to The Globe you will find my favourite Restaurant and Bar, The Swan, which boasts stunning views to St Paul’s Cathedral.

London Soldier

Day 2:

It’s time to discover where London began. The City or the Square Mile as we call it. At its heart stands the beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral, built in English Baroque style and its narrow little streets are full of surprises and history. Cross Millennium Bridge for stunning views, and have lunch at Borough Market. You can either try the food sold at the market or there is a Roast restaurant just at the top.

In the Afternoon visit the Tower of London and see the Crown Jewels, learn stories of prisoners and traitors who were beheaded there.

Where to Shop ?

Harrods in Knightsbridge, Liberty on Regent Street, Selfridges on Oxford Street or Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly.

Where to go for a drink ?

If you want to try a real English pub, check out the Pub chain Nicholson. It takes care of an iconic collection of historical pubs. If you fancy a drink with a view, Sky Garden or the Bar at the Shard is the best.

We hope you will enjoy a visit to London. If you would like to learn more, book a Guided Tour. We guide in English, German, Portuguese, Dutch and Hungarian. As Blue Badge Guides, we are licensed to guide inside Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.