I’m always on the lookout for cheap stuff to do in London (especially since returning home from travelling with a pretty decimated savings account!). Meetup.com is a great source for all kinds of groups and societies, and I had done a walking tour with Hazel of Walks, Talks and Treasure Hunts before. The West End is an area that I always think I know quite well – not so much I found out on this treasure hunt!!
For £5 each this was a bargain. I went with my friend Jane but there were plenty of people on their own. We all matched up into groups of 4 anyway (there were 30-odd of us in total). Hazel is always super-organised and professional. If you’ve ever done a tour before with her she’ll recognise you. We were handed maps (vaguely plotted to show the spots where we should look for answers to the clues) and a question sheet. There were three photo questions which we had to take along the way and send back to Hazel for marking.
We met at Charing Cross station at 2pm and had until 4pm to make our way back to the Silver Cross pub on Whitehall for the awards. Having the time frame definitely helped/panicked us as there were a couple of times when we could easily have wasted twenty minutes trying to solve one clue.
Running around the area it became apparent that I am incredibly unobservant most of the time! Answers to clues could be found on the buildings, looking at plaques on the walls and on statues. I had no idea just how much history could be learned in such a short space of time just by reading plaques on walls. I had never noticed the Globe Head Ballerina on the side of the Royal Opera House, or the Roman frieze on the Odeon cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue (dating back to its time as the Saville Theatre and representing drama through the ages). It did help that all four of us in our group had a decent knowledge of the area so at least we didn’t have any navigation issues – all our unanswered questions were a matter of simple lack of deduction.
Two hours was the perfect amount of time, though we had to rush at the end and missed a couple of questions out in order to get back on time. Our feet knew about it by the end but not so much that we weren’t able to power walk back to the pub for a well deserved drink. We didn’t place but came fourth which I was quite happy with.
If this sounds like your kind of thing then there are further treasure hunts scheduled on 24th July (City of London) and 14th August (Greenwich) plus loads of interesting walks (and of course talks!). Check out Walks, Talks and Treasure Hunts on meetup.com.