It’s been quite a while since we took a London road-trip. I’m sure by now you’re all familiar with the concept of the walking camper van – it’s time to introduce you to the walking night camper van. Think night bus, but with less vomit and inane conversation to contend with.*
As is the nature of night transportation, our route will deviate from the day-time one – it will no doubt be less direct, less convenient, but more jolly.
We’re starting from the Curzon cinema on King’s Road, just after midnight – mainly because that’s what suits me, and I’m the driver. Here’s the route:
The playlist for today includes ‘King’s Road’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and ‘Hairdresser on Fire’ by Morrissey.
And here’s our passenger:
* There may still be some vomit and inane conversation to contend with.
Stop 1) Sloane Square
First we’ll turn left onto King’s Road and walk all the way down to Sloane Square. At this hour on a weekend night, the streets are filled with young, drunken Sloanies.
‘Zachary! Zachary! I’ve just spoken to Tabitha – they’re going to JuJu. Do you wanna go with?’
Dazzled by upturned shirt collars, long, tanned legs and sparkling teeth, it’s easy to be disoriented. But if you can drag your eyes away, the side streets of Chelsea are really very pretty – if in a highly-sanitised way – with their pastel-painted houses and Narnia lamp posts.
As the name would suggest, King’s Road’s gentile and expensive associations are not new. It originated as Charles II’s personal route to Kew, and it remained a private road until 1830.
Disembark here for smart bars, cafés and restaurants, if you’re feeling flush, or just a spot of night-time window shopping in the designer stores.
Stop 2) Pimlico
From Sloane Square we’ll turn down Lower Sloane Street and then take a left onto Pimlico Road. It’s instantly quieter, though there are still groups of people on their way home – or to the next stage of their night out.
Pimlico was built as a southern extension to Belgravia, but unlike its exclusive neighbour, its grand Regency buildings sit alongside social housing and humble newsagents. So close to the river, it is perhaps unsurprising that the land here was once marshy, until it was reclaimed in the early nineteenth century from soil excavated during the creation of St Katharine’s Dock.
At this part of Pimlico Road, the shops are all smart-looking design and antiques. When the road splits, we’ll take the right hand branch past The Orange Public House and Hotel – an attractive relic of an earlier age – and St Barnabas Church. On the left side of the road, Peabody buildings reach upwards, looking surprisingly French.
We’ll follow the road as it becomes Ebury Bridge Road, passing the junction for Victoria Station.
Disembark here for rail and coach connections with the rest of the country, although your options may be limited at this time of night.
Stop 3) Millbank
We’ll take the left hand branch of the fork in the road here and walk almost the whole length of Warwick Way. Towards the end, we’ll take a right onto Tachbrook Street – home to a vibrant market during the daytime – which we will walk the full length of to reach Pimlico Station.
Here we’ll cross over and take a left onto Bessborough Street which we’ll follow all the way to busy Vauxhall Bridge Road, which is part of the London Inner Ring Road.
We’ll cross straight over and take Causton Street (to the right of the Random House group building), following it round until we reach a right hand turn onto the quiet of Cureton Street. We follow this all the way round to the right until it reaches the red brick buildings of John Islip Street, which we turn left onto and walk all the way down. This road takes us behind the Tate Britain, which we can admire from the outside (it’s obviously closed at this hour).
Eventually this road turns into Dean Ryle Street, which again we follow all the way until it reaches Horseferry road. This road was named for a ferry which used to transport the Archbishop of Canterbury between Lambeth and Westminster Palaces, along roughly the same trajectory as Lambeth Bridge traces today. There is no one else on the bridge tonight, and it’s nice and quiet for somewhere so central.
Final Destination: Lambeth Bridge
A right turn here brings us to Lambeth Bridge itself, our final destination. Time for a cup of tea before bed.
Thank you for travelling on the walking night camper van. We would like to wish you a pleasant onward journey and look forward to seeing you again very soon