Exploring London’s Underground Secrets

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Over the past century and a half, London’s Underground has seen two world wars, millions of passengers, and more secrets than we could begin to count. The “Tube” is used by Londoners and visitors to the beautiful city every hour of every day, but most are unaware of the history they’re traveling through.

Once you learn of the 150-years’ worth of secrets and history housed below England’s capital, you’ll earn a completely new appreciation for this feat of engineering and human-kind.

Underground History

In the early 1800s, London was booming. The influx of people bustling about quickly made it apparent that a better method of mass transportation was needed, and fast. The Metropolitan Railway took on the immense challenge of constructing the first underground line below the city. After months of construction, the 3 and three quarter mile railway carried 38,000 passengers safely to their destination on the inaugural ride on January 10, 1863.

soldiers parading on the streets of London

For the following five decades, London’s Underground saw changing ownership, builders, and thousands of passengers. However, once World War I began London saw its first air raid, and the tube was transformed into much more than a transportation system. The safe-haven continued on into the World War II.
Image Source: BiblioArchives

abandoned bomb shelter

Initially, British government officials tried to prevent the tube stations and lines use as bomb shelters. But, after their attempts to keep people from taking shelter there were decisively ignored, they decided to regulate the shelters instead. Trains continued to run on certain lines, bringing supplies, food, and other Londoner’s seeking shelter. A number of unused stations were converted into factories for wartime productions.
Image Source: secretlondon123

While the Tube was considered by many to be the safest haven, no place in London was completely protected from German Blitzes. Hundreds of Londoner’s lost their lives when the tube was hit by German bombs in 1940 through 1943.
Even in the times of crisis and tragedy, the Underground has remained as a point of togetherness for the people of London. It’s an unmistakable symbol of the ingenuity and strength of Britain as a whole.

Traveling the Underground Today

The Underground lines cover nine zones and stop at more than 200 stations. Even though there are nine zones, tourists typically stay in Zones 1 and 2 because they cover Central London where many of the major tourist attractions and hotels are located.

These days, 11 Tube lines transport locals and tourists throughout Britain’s capital:

  • Bakerloo Line
  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • District Line
  • Hammersmith & City Line
  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Northern Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Victoria Line
  • Waterloo & City Line

Generally, the Underground runs are between 5:00 a.m. — 12:00 A.M., Monday through Saturday. Sunday times are reduced by a few hours with later starting times and earlier stopping times.

Secrets Along The Stops

We alluded to the importance of the Underground during the World Wars, and proof of that is beneath 8 of the 11 Tube lines. For under these lines sit deep-level air-raid shelters. The construction of the shelters took place between 1940 and 1942. Originally reserved for government officials, 5 of the 8 shelters opened up to civilians as bombing intensified.

abandoned tube station in London

Image Source: secretlondon123

The shelters that were constructed include:

  • Chancery Lane
  • Belsize Park
  • Camden Town
  • Goodge Street
  • Stockwell
  • Clapham North
  • Clapham Common
  • Clapham South

After the war ended, several of the shelters were still used by London’s military. The Goodge Street shelter was used by the army until the 1950s. The Chancery Lane shelter was used for the Kingsway Telephone Exchange during the Cold War years.

Recreated World War 2 communications room

Image Source: Shiny Things

In addition to the secrets you’ll uncover while traveling the Underground, you’ll also see all of the most iconic sights of the region.

Circle Line – Tower Hill Station

Tower Bridge – Built 120 years ago, the Tower Bridge is an engineering marvel and arguably one of the most recognizable attractions in the world. If you’re feeling brave, trek out onto the high bridges suspended between the bridges towers.

Tower Bridge in London

Image Source: spacedust2019

District Line – St James’s Station

St. James’s Park – Millions of visitors flock to the beautiful St. James’s Park every year. It’s the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks, and it includes The Mall and the Horse Guards Parade.

View of St. James Park, London

Image Source: foshie

Jubilee Line – Westminster Station

Big Ben – Is there a more iconic London sight than Big Ben? Lucky for visitors, this sight is right along the Jubilee Line outside of Westminster Station. Whether you’re a history buff or just want to check it off of your bucket list, you need to stop by Big Ben.

Night view of Big Ben and Parliament Buildings

Image Source: Nan Palmero

Northern Line – Waterloo Station

London Eye – The London Eye is a larger-than-life Ferris wheel on the River Thames in London. From here, you will be treated to the most spectacular views of the city and a ride you won’t forget.

The London Eye at night

Image Source: Altug Karakoc

Piccadilly Line – Covent Garden or Leicester Square Station

Covent Garden – The district of Covent Garden in London is a hub for local shops, delicious food, and incredible street performers. Once you hop out of the Covent Garden station, you’ll have a tough time fitting everything you want to explore into just one day.

Covent Garden

Image Source: Aurelien Guichard

Parts of the Tube’s storied history are somber, but the incredible spirit of London persists and prevails. For once you wander the stations and secret passageways hidden beneath the surface, you’ll never think of London the same way again.

Visiting the Lakes? Here are the Walking Routes with the Best Pubs

Lake District

When you think of the Lake District, you probably think of long walks, huge lakes, epic views and a nice cold pint at the end of a long walk. But with so much choice, it can be overwhelming deciding which walks to go on.

To help guide you, the Lake District hotel, Craig Manor have mapped out the best walking routes featuring beer gardens for the ultimate pint pick-me-up.

Craig Manor, Bowness-On-Windermere

 Craig Manor itself offers the perfect start to any Lake District holiday. Situated in Bowness, there is a 4.5-mile circular walk around Bowness-on-Windermere that explores the countryside nearby and visits some great photo hotspots. If you want to extend the walk there is the option to, or circle back for a spot of lunch and a pint in the gardens at Craig Manor.

This walk is nice and flat so is suitable for all, although as with all the walks we would advise wearing sturdy boots!

The Bridge, Buttermere

 One of the lesser known but possibly most beautiful lakes in the Lake District, is Buttermere.

This beautiful lake is on the smaller side so offers a walk right around its edge and you could even spot some highland cows. In April to June the far side of the lake is closed for nesting Sandpipers, but half of the walk is still open.

Head to The Bridge for a delicious pub lunch or a drink in the Beer Garden – and rumour has it they do a good Sunday lunch too!

The Crown Inn, Pooley Bridge

 Next, Pooley Bridge offers another lakeside walk and this one is for the more advanced walker. At 6.5 miles it will take approximately 3 hours to walk and does have some rougher terrain.

However, with views over the water and a visit to Aira Force it is well worth the effort. And starting and finishing at The Crown Inn, we’re certain you’ll find a way to rest up after the walk.

Lake District

The Britannia Inn, Elterwater

 For a central location, rustic dining and amazing views, head to Elterwater for a pub lunch in The Britannia Inn before heading out on your walk. This walk is a great option for those wanting a longer walk (this will take at least two hours) but without the harder going terrain.

Start from the Inn and head along passed Elter Water where the views are amazing. Head through Crag Head and over Skelwith Bridge, another beautiful spot.

You’ll head back in a circle through Little Langdale before returning to the Inn.

The Outgate Inn, Ambleside

 Our final Pub Garden recommendation is the Outgate Inn in Ambleside. This four-and-a-half-mile walk offers mixed terrain but will be suitable for most walkers.

It circles around Blelham Tarn and then round passed Wray Castle which is a great place to visit for all the family. Return to the Outgate Inn for a well-deserved break.

Feeling inspired? Check out Craig Manor’s beer garden map of the Lake District.

Lake District

Accessible City Breaks in the UK

When you have a disability or mobility issues, going on holiday can be even more challenging. Here we take a look at the best UK city breaks for accessibility, including some great attractions that are fully wheelchair accessible. We have even included some helpful travel tips and the best public transport for getting around in a mobility scooter.

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Accessible City Breaks in the UK by Easy