South Bank

Easier than anticipated, but a little local knowledge was vital for the smooth running of this perambulation. 

There is a lot to see and do on the South Bank and this was a reasonably spontaneous perambulation. Unless you are in the area a lot I find that it is always a surprise what you might discover on the South Bank. On most Sundays there is a reasonably large used book market near Waterloo Bridge. This time the area had been cleared to make way for a pop-up gourmet hot dog stall (among others) and some bars. This suited us and when we had intended to read, we ate instead. It was very busy so queues for the food trucks were typical and we got lucky finding a table. The area isn’t the cleanest (understatement) and I prepared a bottle for Lily with great care to keep all components sterile – this was not easy.  

There isn’t much shade / shelter on the South Bank unless you go into one of the restaurants or The South Bank Centre. A rather less attractive option might be under one of the bridges. On this occasion the sun was an issue and Lily perambulated was complete with factor 50 and a sun canopy.

There are many exciting and unusual things to look at, smell, see and hear in the area so Lily’s perambulation included a lot of new experiences for her. I lifted her up to be able to see the boats on the Thames and she was fascinated by the bikes. I wanted to keep Lily out of the sun so this perambulation lasted around 1 hour or so.

The layout of the riverside, bridges and back towards the road is set over several levels so there were many sets of stairs.  The Southbank Centre too is very multi levelled and I really wanted to avoid carrying Lily’s pram up or down stairs. I used to work in the area so know it quite well and I did manage to devise a route that included only ramps and lifts. Here is how we did it.

I wanted an a > b perambulation rather than a circular route so we travelled by tube to waterloo station were the Jubilee Line (only) has step free access. From there we approached the South Bank via Waterloo Road and York Road. There is a ramp down to the South Bank between the Royal Festival Hall and The South Bank Centre. We perambulated towards Westminster.

There are stairs from the South Bank up to Westminster Bridge, but these can be avoided if you walk around the back of County Hall instead of in front. This worked well for step free access, however Westminster Bridge was horrible. Far too busy and pushing Lily in her pram was very difficult. While Westminster Tube station does have step free access I would instead recommend returning to Waterloo for a far more civilised and peaceful end to a perambulation.  

On the plus side there were unexpectedly good changing facilities on the South Bank in the form of some public toilets installed in honour of Her Majesty’s Jubilee (or Jubiloo as they have titled themselves). This is to be found near the London Eye. For 50p you can access bathrooms with baby changing mats (unisex availability). The attendant on duty provided general customer service while he did some cleaning. It was a lot nicer and more straightforward than I predicted. While I am not sure what The Queen would make of this, I was pleased. This perambulation would have been more successful on a quieter day and in lower temperatures.   

Changing facilities ***

Access **

Baby feeding facilities (including seating) **

Travel ***

Enjoyable Perambulation ****

Overall ***