One of my friends routinely refers to me as a walking guide when she introduces me to others. It must make sense to her, but it always confuses me. Yes, I do guided walks, but I also guide on coaches. Would that make me a sitting guide?
It’s probably something to do with the general and widespread ignorance about what being a professional tourist guide means. If I had a pound for every time someone asked me if I’d had to train (the answer is yes by the way) I’d be relatively rich by now.
It’s a state of ignorance I shared for a long time. It certainly wasn’t a path suggested by either school or university career services. I came to it more or less by accident. A fortunate accident I’d say as I love my job.
Maybe I am thinking about this rather more at the moment as by freak chance I have connected with my old school via the power of twitter.
Guides come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds, with myriad experiences and expertise from other fields. My own work is a journalist and a teacher is pretty tame. I have one colleague who worked with elephants at London Zoo. That’s quite hard to top.
Tomorrow I have two walks in the City of London.
Roaming by the River starts at 10.45 outside Monument tube. Its original title was Fish ‘n’ Ships, which probably tells you all you need to know about the walk’s theme. It’s a fairly light hearted walk which ends near Tower Hill.
Tower Hill is where the afternoon’s walk begins. Meet me by the Tower Hill Tram at 2.30 for the London Wall Walk. We traverse the City from east to west, finishing near St Paul’s tube station.
On Monday evening I’m in Westminster. Actually I am in Westminster all day, but not for public walks. Meet at Westminster tube exit 4 at 7.00pm for Westminster by Gaslight, a gentle walk that includes a pub stop at a pub favoured by politicians.
No more public walks until Saturday when I am off to Windsor Castle and Eton for an Explorer Day. Just an hour from London by train, and a different world. Meet me opposite platform 16 by the main ticket office at Waterloo Station for 9.30am.
Single walks cost £9, £7 for over 65s and full-time students, and last around two hours.
Explorer days cost £16, or £14 for over 65s and full-time students plus entrance fees and travel.