The Bankside area of Southwark roughly equates with the riverside between Blackfriars Bridge and London Bridge.
The distance between the two bridges is about a mile and there are not only plenty of things to see, but also a fair number of pubs to hold you up along the way, and if you stop at all of them you’ll need holding up yourself.
Next to Blackfriars Railway Bridge is the Founders Arms, which although modern is in a great location overlooking the river, but as this isn’t a pub crawl I’ll assume that you’ll want to move straight on to the first real point of interest which is the Tate Modern.
Housed inside the former Bankside Power Station, this gallery of modern art won’t appeal to everyone, and depending on your taste in art you can either spend the best part of a day in here or hardly any time at all. Either way, you should go in and take a look, not just because it’s free, but you can always take the lift up to the viewing level of the Blavatnik Building for great views over the City of London and beyond.
Outside the river entrance to the Tate Modern is the Millennium Bridge. No prizes for guessing where it got its name from, but you may be tempted across it because on the other side of the river is St Paul’s Cathedral, but as tempting as it may be, it’s best left for another time.
The riverside path that runs through Bankside is part of the Queen’s Walk which runs from Lambeth Bridge to Tower Bridge. If you enjoy long distance footpaths you may also like to know that the Queen’s Walk was the catalyst for creating the 184 mile Thames Path that opened in 1996.
With so many distractions along this stretch of the river though, one mile is more than enough for me. Next up is the reconstructed Shakespeare’s Globe, which was originally located nearby. Southwark was a hotbed of dubious forms of entertainment during Shakespeare’s time which included the theatre – as well as brothels, bear baiting, and drunkenness.
On the other side of Southwark Bridge is a pub that would have been around in Shakespeare’s time – The Anchor. It wouldn’t have looked like it does now, but it’s a convenient pit stop should you need one.
If you’ve resisted the temptation to stop, then you’ll have to detour slightly from the riverbank to walk along Clink St, where the original Clink (prison) was, and which is now a museum. As you walk along the street into Pickfords Lane you’ll come to what’s left of Winchester Palace, once home to the Bishops of Winchester.
The streets around here have changed in recent times, but there are still reminders of what life would have been like in times gone by. At the end of Pickfords Lane is St Mary Overie Dock with a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship, the Golden Hind and next to it is yet another hostelry, the poplar Old Thameside Inn. Walking into Cathedral St brings us to Southwark Cathedral and the nearby Borough Market, both of which deserve a visit.
London Bridge is the end of our walk along Bankside, and the site of the original Roman crossing point of the Thames, but this is only an introduction to what the area has to offer and I’ll be adding more information in due course, so please check back to make sure I haven’t been held up in one of Bankside’s enticing hostelries.