Lego maps on the underground, and how to get there.
As you may be aware, TFL and the wonderful kids at Lego have teamed up to produce 5 versions of the London Underground map. It’s worth taking time out of your day to visit one or all of these maps as they are beautifully designed and probably took far more time than I will ever have spare (not to mention floor space).
The five maps are in the following locations:
- South Kensington – 1927 map
- Piccadilly Circus – 1933, Harry Beck’s original map
- Green Park – 1968 map
- Stratford – 2013 map
- King’s Cross St. Pancras – 2020 map
Personally, I think the 2020 map is a catastrophe – it’s far too messy and complicated, and I hope they have a rejig to make it a bit easier to understand come Crossrail time. Or it may just be that it’s made of Lego and the constraints have limited the organisation somewhat. We shall see…
So, yes, the maps. Visit them. If you’re doing it be tube, it’s quite easy. Take the tube to your desired station, exit, snap away. But that’s WAY too easy. Get a bit creative and make a day of it, just like me and a group of friends did.
Meet your friends at the Science Museum and have a slice of cake. You’re going to need it. Then, hop into the tunnel and visit the first map at South Kensington station. It’s positioned just by the entrance to the tunnel within the station.
Leave the station through the Natural History Museum exit and find the nearest Boris Bike docking station. Hire a bike and cycle to Green Park via Hyde Park. Have a look around Hyde Park, cycle alongside the Serpentine and take your time. When you’re done, exit by the South-East corner gate (Hyde Park Corner) and use the cycle-specific lights to cross over through Wellington Arch and down onto Constitution Hill. On the day we visited, the roads were closed to cars, which meant that taking our bikes down to Buckingham Palace was a breeze. If you can, do a lap of the Victoria Memorial, take some snaps (not with your iPad, you look daft) and then head off up to Green Park station. You’ll have to walk up the side of the park as they’ve designated it a no-cycle zone. We’re not sure why as it’s really wide! Dock your bike (FIRMLY) next to Green Park station and go down into the station. It’s on the left hand side if you’re coming in from the park side, straight ahead if you’re coming down the stairs from Piccadilly.
Take a quick walk from Green Park down to Piccadilly Circus, taking note of all the people there that earn a lot more money than you. Swan past Fortnum & Mason’s (scoff if you will) and don’t forget to have a quick glance into the window of The Wolseley – I promise you that the people in there are spending more on cake & tea than you have in you entire food budget for the week. This is also a great celebrity hotspot, if such things interest you. The map in Piccadilly Circus is on the inside wall of the circle.
Take a slightly longer walk down to Embankment Pier, via Regent Street, The Mall, Horse Guards Parade and Horse Guards Avenue. Buy a ticket, and hop aboard the next Greenwich-bound Thames Clipper. The trip down to North Greenwich is long, but you get to see London from a unique viewpoint. Plus, when you get past Tower Bridge, the speed increases dramatically and, if you’re sat outside, you may find yourself in the splashzone. You’ve all had your tetanus shot, right? Get off the boat at North Greenwich (by the O2) and immediately turn left to head towards the dangleway (aka Emirates Air Line). Take the cablecar over the Thames and take in the sights of industrial East London. Once you’ve ‘landed’ on the North side, walk over to Royal Victoria DLR station and take the first Stratford-bound DLR train, making sure you elbow kids and adults alike out of the way so that you can be the one sat at the front ‘driving’ the train. Once you arrive at Stratford, you’ll need to take the tunnel under the station to exit by Westfield. Follow the signs for Platforms 1-4 and you should be fine. Just don’t go through the gates until you’ve reached the Westfield exit. This is the only map that sits inside the ticket barriers. You’ll see it straight ahead of you as you come to the top of the escalators.
Stop off at one of the many restaurants for something to eat. We chose Cabana for a Brazilian edge to our evening (plus we got a bucket of beer – that wins it for me). Once you’ve finished that (or if you’ve chosen to skip this bit), head down to Stratford International station and get a Javelin train to St Pancras. The train isn’t covered by Oyster, so make sure you buy a ticket. Once you arrive at St Pancras, head down the escalators and take the exit on to Pancras Road. The entrance to the underground is more-or-less straight ahead of you. Head down the tunnel and you’ll find the map on the wall by the bottom of the escalators.
And thus concludes our foray into the age-old London Transport system. We didn’t manage to fit in any trams or Overground journeys into our itinerary, but maybe you could fit that into your journey home.