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A Road to Ruin Walk

The perfect guided walk for those interested in history, London and alcohol.

Join us on the “Road to Ruin” walking tour, a fascinating exploration for history enthusiasts, London lovers and those with interest an in alcohol. We’ll begin in Clerkenwell, a historic gin and beer production hub, and venture through the area to uncover its intriguing past.

Discover the complex relationship between London’s different classes of society and the alcohol they consumed. Learn about the impact of alcohol production and consumption, and how artists portrayed society and its expectations of different classes.

  • Authentic different alcohol-themed tour
  • Discover an interesting aspect of historical London
  • Adults only. NB: Tea totals are very welcome. This is not a pub crawl.
90 mins linear walk
Individual tickets £20

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Join Hazel on a fascinating walking tour along an ancient Drover’s Road, exploring the historic neighbourhoods of Clerkenwell and Smithfield. The area was once full of pubs, breweries and distilleries, and the tour will take you on a journey through time to discover the stories behind the buildings, history and local characters.

As you walk along the Road to Ruin, you’ll visit a range of interesting buildings, including an ‘in and out pub’, a world-famous inn, a brewery, two gin distilleries and even a licensed pawnbroker. Hazel will also share rare and interesting facts and tales about the area, giving you a unique insight into its past.

The tour will also delve into the fascinating history of drinking culture in England, examining how it was interpreted by journalists and artists of the past and comparing it to the modern world. Hazel will explain the origins of expressions such as “one for the road”, “a Mother’s ruin” and “dead drunk”, and you’ll leave the tour with a deeper understanding of the stories and traditions that have shaped this iconic aspect of English culture.

This walking tour offers a unique and engaging way to explore the history and culture of Clerkenwell and Smithfield, uncovering the secrets of this fascinating neighbourhood and its rich past. With Hazel as your knowledgeable and engaging guide, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.

Your Guide: Hazel Baker

A Road to Ruin Walk's Reviews

Very enjoyable walk. The Guide was very informative, witty and inclusive. The pace of the walk was just right.
A great walk with Hazel, with lots of fascinating stories and history along the way. I would thoroughly recommend it. Thank you.
Yet another stellar walk with Hazel. So much interesting and fascinating information backed up by Hogarth prints that brought the place so life. Although possibly a little longer than usual at nearly two hours, the time flew by, and I really appreciated the numerous stops to take on many sights. Once again, we visited places that are rarely seen of passed by without really noticing. Anyone with a slight interest in former times when water was undrinkable, and so the people had to turn to beer or, perhaps worse still, gin will be fascinated, especially when the print of ‘Gin Lane’ is produced. I never cease to marvel at Hazel’s knowledge and presentation, and I am always impatient to do the next walk. Please do try one of these walks as they are superb.
Hazel made this walk extremely enjoyable with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the area’s history as we wandered down St John’s Street and its environs. Recommend to anyone as I learnt so much in the ninety minutes, with the added bonus that it’s downhill all the way.
Another very informative walk, with the excellent Hazel. She is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Like so many of these walks, you visit areas of London, which are in the heart of a city, yet secret and off the main areas, a little oasis in a busy metropolis. I have never visited so many pubs in 90 minutes, and not touched a drop. We will be retracing our steps in the future, and visiting all the areas of interest we touched on during the walk. The walk starts at the Angel and ends at Farringdon, not a great distance, but a packed walk of history brought to life.
It was an amazing tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour! I rediscovered the area I’ve worked in for the past 6 years.
This was an excellent walk. I saw bits I’d never seen. I will try and go back and find some of the places.
Road to ruin was a thoroughly interesting and entertaining walk. We learnt so much from our guide. I would recommend this walk.
Hazel, our guide, gave us a very interesting and informative walk around the Finsbury area of Islington. The walk concentrated on the taverns and breweries that were, and still are, in the area. The use of Hogarth’s cartoons was really fascinating. Highly recommended if you want a tour that’s a little different.
A most enjoyable and informative walk, with all sorts of quirky and fascinating detail, which really encouraged a sense of the area’s living history and the real people who lived and drank there! So good that passers-by who had stopped, intrigued, to listen in, wanted to know how they could find out more and book a walk; I told them about Hazel at London Guided Walks. Great stuff!
Hazel is a great storyteller; we always learn a lot during the tour. I look forward to a new one!
Very entertaining and knowledgeable tour guide; a great history of The Angel!
It has been some time since I was on a walk with Hazel, but I can assure you, the lady is back!! And how, wow!! What a walk. So many things that we do not see, but when pointed out to you add to the very rich history of our capital. Fifty-seven principal breweries and God knows how many Gin distilleries!! I even know where the expression, “befuddled” now comes from, and if you think that Sadler’s Wells is all about the arts, think again. Thoroughly recommend this tour to all, it has once again added to my knowledge of London.
This was an interesting walk and talk by Hazel, looking at the role alcohol played in the area of Angel and its effect on everyday life. The walk explores the sites of pubs, breweries and distilleries in the vicinity, some of which can still be seen today. Fittingly, we ended the walk at a pub in Farringdon! A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The theme to this walk is alcohol; drinking and making it. It was fun, with a friendly group of people. The tour did introduce interesting facts about the area and helped me discover some new pubs to try!
If you’ve previously been on one of Hazel’s Guided Walks, then you’ll already know what to expect. You’ll know that Hazel is a very well-organised and highly knowledgeable guide with a welcoming and friendly style which makes everyone feel involved in her presentations. Unlike some other guides, she also has a quality microphone headset with an amp and speaker which works. Yes, you can actually hear what she’s saying. And it’s well worth hearing. She also keeps the group size down to sensible, manageable proportions. If you’ve ever been part of an 80-strong group trying to follow the guide and navigate your way over pedestrian crossings and along London’s narrow suburban streets, you’ll appreciate just how essential this is. She’s a very good judge of the right amount of helpful information and the appropriate anecdote or story to make it more memorable. Last, but not least, she sets the pace to keep to the timetable. If you didn’t know these things before; well, you do now! The highlight of Hazel’s A Road To Ruin Guided Walk? I think it was the use of the 2 Hogarth Prints ‘Gin Lane’ and ‘Beer Street’ to illustrate, compare and contrast the effects of the two most important participants in the story of the ongoing relationship between Londoners and their alcohol.
Another very enjoyable and informative walk with Hazel. Her walks are always lively and interesting and we particularly enjoyed looking at the Hogarth pictures she showed us about gin’s effects on the London population. As always she took us to undiscovered streets; a particular highlight on this tour was the amazing Order of St John gate.
This was my third walk with Hazel, and I would be happy to go on many more. She researches and knows her material well but wears her erudition lightly. Hazel brings the areas of London she takes you through to life and allows you to see facets that you had not thought of or known about before. Highly recommended!
A very enjoyable walk from the Angel to Farringdon Station. The Hogarth prints were well chosen to illustrate contemporary life and the evils of fecklessness and a fondness for gin. How unlike today!
Informative, imaginative and fun. The Road to Ruin was a thoroughly enjoyable guided walk. It was well researched and brilliantly delivered. Thank you.
A fascinating and amusing tour by the delightful Hazel who brings history to life. Perfectly pitched and a manageable walking distance covered. I am looking forward to going on another.
Lisa and Jason
Another excellent walk with Hazel full of interesting history and stories. We will definitely be booking to do one of Hazel’s other walks.
Absolutely brilliant. I am so glad that I have discovered Hazel and the joy of guided walks. It was easy to identify Hazel at the tube station. Her tour was well planned and extremely informative; bringing the past alive. She even pointed out lovely local museums that I can come back to. I now know some great pubs to bring my American friends!
I loved my second walk with Hazel – an informative, friendly and interesting guide. Perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
Really enjoyable stroll through London. Hazel was very knowledgeable and brought the past to life. I would recommend this tour.
An excellent walk conducted by Hazel down the road to ruin from the Angel to Farringdon. Full of information and anecdotes from the Angel station (and the street on the Monopoly board) being the only tube station named after a Pub. She was excellently prepared with images from Hogarth who depicted the Angel amongst other’ roads to ruin’, gin being the main culprit with beer being brought in as a better substitute! It ended at the Castle pub which is still also holds a pawn brokers licence thanks to Queen Victoria’s son, the Prince of Wales. Do the walk to find out why.
Really interesting walk, learnt lots about the history of the drinking establishments of the Islington area, and why certain areas and places are named as they are. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and gave us lots of interesting facts. Very funny too. Highly recommend.

Qualified London Tour Guides

Blue Badge Tour Guide
City of London Tour Guide Badge
City of Westminster Guide
Clerkenwell & Islington Guide
Camden Tour Guides Association

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