Visit the scenes from Sherlock and Spooks during a walking tour of London, and see firsthand where Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, aka Holmes and Watson, created their hit BBC series.
Distance 6 miles (9.6km) Time 2-3 hours
Trafalgar Square is the quintessential London location. It was the scene of some bomb-based brinkmanship for Erin and Dimitri in the final series of Spooks, and also featured in Sherlock’s The Blind Banker.
Leave the square via Whitehall towards Big Ben. Pass Parliament on your left and walk through Victoria Tower Gardens to the steps up to Lambeth Bridge. From the top of the steps, Thames House — the real MI5’s headquarters — used for some night shots in series eight of Spooks, is on your right, over the other side of the roundabout, and from the bridge you can look upstream to the genuine Secret Intelligence Service HQ, aka MI6, which has also featured a few times. After crossing the Thames, turn left downstream along the Thames Path. Shortly before Westminster Bridge are some benches facing the Houses of Parliament — where Harry met the CIA’s Jim Coaver.
THE SOUTH BANK
The South Bank is a favoured haunt for Spooks, especially for its characters’ low-tide rendezvous, but Sherlock locations also abound. The shore in front of the Oxo Tower was where a gallery security guard was found in The Great Game, and Hungerford Bridge and the skate park under the Queen Elizabeth Hall were both used in The Blind Banker.
Pass under Blackfriars road and rail bridges and cross the Millennium Bridge — another popular Spooks location — to St Paul’s. Turn left and walk down Ludgate Hill to its junction with the Old Bailey. Walk up past the court to the traffic lights, cross over into Giltspur Street, past some offices and the building on your right is St Bartholomew’s Hospital — the meeting place of Holmes and Watson and where Sherlock met his end (or did he?) in the story The Reichenbach Fall. Follow the hospital buildings as the road sweeps round to the right and in front of you will be a half- timbered building on top of an arch. Through the arch is the church of St Bartholomew the Great, where Tom killed Herman Joyce in series three of Spooks.
Retrace your steps down Giltspur Street, then turn right onto Holborn Viaduct. Proceed ahead up Holborn and High Holborn to Holborn Tube. You have just walked over a complex of cold-war telecommunications switches hidden in tunnels with room for 8,000 people 100 feet underground.
Turn left down Kingsway, then second right onto Great Queen St to the Freemasons’ Hall, which, in Spooks, doubles as the exterior of MI5’s HQ, Thames House. Head west down Long Acre, past the Freemasons’ Arms on your right — where Sir Harry, Malcolm and Connie met Davie King — to shake off your tail in the crowds of Covent Garden, or make your way, via Long Acre and St Martin’s Lane, back to Trafalgar Square.
Long, but all along streets with lots of cafés and pubs and plenty of scope for hopping on buses and the Tube.
Trafalgar Square’s nearest Tubes are Charing Cross (Northern, Bakerloo) Embankment (Circle, District) and Leicester Square (Piccadilly, Northern).
There’s an almost infinite variety all along the route, but Gabriel’s Wharf and the various cafés in or around the South Bank arts complex are your best bet — or why not try the venues around Smithfield?