Since when did adventure & exploration have to involve jumping on a plane to travel far away? The definition of exploring is to travel through (an unfamiliar area) in order to learn about it, and in my eyes some of the most experiences are right on your doorstep…you might just have to look a little harder to find them.
I’ve lived in London for just over a year and a half and always find myself heading to the exact same spots because I know what’s there and how to navigate my way around. So when I was asked by Treasure Trails if I was interested in doing a treasure hunt around London I jumped at the chance to go on a little adventure and to find new areas to visit – along with learning a little background and some interesting facts about this very special city!
Treasure Trails offer self-guided themed treasure hunts around different villages, towns and cities all over the UK. They have over 1,200 different trails which you can find HERE. So there’s sure to be something to suit you. There are all types of trail to choose from, including spy missions, murder mysteries and treasure hunts and ones that can be completed either by foot, car or cycling and are suitable for all ages. The trails are best completed in groups of 5 or under but if there are more than 5 of you, there are still ways and tips to complete the trails to their full extent which you can also find on their website.
On average the Treasure Trails take around 2 hours to complete with approximately 20-25 clues per trail. These clues are supplied to you via a little booklet which you are sent via a link to a pdf to print out or if you’re super organised and order in good time, they can even send you your booklet in the post. These clues will have you looking in every direction for the duration of your trail which may lead you to see things you wouldn’t normally notice!
We chose to do the 5 Pubs in 5 Miles trail, which was a spy mission treasure hunt! This showed us around some of Central London whilst enabling us to stop and learn more about some of the most loved pubs in the capital (and to eat and drink rather a lot). It was suitable for ages 6 – 106 and was said to take around 4 hours to complete!
So, with this, my friend Abi and I met at the starting point (St James’ Park) for this trail at midday ready for an afternoon of hunting for both clues and pubs! The booklet starts with a lovely little back story on the mission at hand, giving a little bit more depth to the trail which was a nice touch, it also explains that you don’t need a map as all of the directions are clearly explained – it was very weird walking places without depending on google maps for a change!
The first clue was only about a minute walk away from where we started but in true Beth style we managed to fail at the first hurdle and walk down the wrong side of the ministry of justice (can’t take us anywhere). But this was very quickly rectified and we had found our first clue within minutes before we were lead into St. James’ park for a string of clues to get us merrily on our way.
It was such a nice experience to just walk around London, I had my big camera with me so I enjoyed just being able to capture parts of the trail along the way. It was a reasonably cold afternoon and so the rivers in the park had frozen over and it was all just so pretty!
A few clues later and we exited the park. This is where we went quite wrong whilst looking for the next clue on a memorial for a while before realising that it was the wrong one! We then headed off in the wrong direction whilst looking for the correct one (this was completely our fault due to not reading the clue/directions correctly and thinking we were cleverer than we were. However, it meant that we got a nice little look around the Horse Guard’s Parade before finding a map showing the memorial we needed to find!
After the mess that was the memorial clue we followed the trail through Trafalgar square and Leicester Square before being led to the first of the pubs on the route – The Salisbury. Here, we had a little rest (very unfit) and replenished ourselves through the medium of Cider. We also thought it would be rude not to tuck in to some of their lovely food (although they were out of chicken pie – sad times), I had the fish and chips whilst Abi munched on the steak and ale pie. We stayed here for a little longer and I wrote in the answers for the first leg of the trail into the answer sheet, which is a little bit like a crossword layout where certain letters are coloured in to provide you with the de-activation code. If you enter this onto the Travel Trails website and you get the correct answer then you’re entered into the draw to win £100!
We then carried on with our adventure which lead us through the seven dials and then through Neal Street (So pretty and so many vibrant colours – would definitely visit here if you get the chance – plus there’s a Homeslice and everyone knows that pizza is life). We then followed the trail to our second pub of the day, The Cross Keys. It’s a small little pub with a lot of character and lots of interesting photographs and posters that grab your attention immediately. We had a glass of (very reasonably priced for Central London) red wine and then were back on our way.
The path then took us across Drury Lane and Into Lincoln Inn Fields where we found our next clue (and stopped to watch a crazy dancing man with just one shoe. Some very normal people lurking around London). We were then Led to the third stop which was a pub called The Seven Stars. I wasn’t too keen on this pub. It had some very cheap tablecloths and felt a bit like we were having a drink in someone’s living room, also the wine was poured from a box which was a bit strange. I also ended up walking into an office and the kitchen before stumbling across the toilet. Oops.
After The Seven Stars we made our way over to Chancery Lane and over Holborn Circus (I used to work here and know this area quite well so it was a nice chance to revisit the area) before continuing along towards Smithfield, we had an issue with one of the clues here being covered by scaffolding BUT it wasn’t really an issue as Treasure Trails have a number that you can text if you get stuck on an answer. So, we were soon back on our way towards St Pauls for our 4th Pub of the day, The Lord Ragalan where we quenched our thirst (and had a cheeky Camembert) before setting off on the last leg of the tour.
It was a Sunday and by this time the darkness had set in, which meant that the Gardens of St Pauls Cathedral were shut (but the booklet gave us instructions on how to navigate should this be the case). We were then back on track after a little while of looking for the next clue and headed over the millennium bridge (I have a phobia of bridges so this was far from my favourite part of the day). Once over the bridge we had a series of clues to find on the south side of the river heading towards London bridge where we located the final clue before heading to a pub of our choice and trying to work out our de-activation code! This would be a very simple task for the majority of people and we worked it out correctly…or at least so we thought (you input your final code into the Treasure Trails website and they tell you whether you’re correct or not), however, amongst all of the excitement it seemed that I didn’t exactly put the code in correctly, I managed to put a random letter/number that wasn’t even on the sheet! Silly me!
Regardless of our little issue at the end we had a great day executing the 5 Pubs in 5 Miles Spy Mission Treasure Hunt with Treasure Trails and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who’s in the mood to explore. Whether that be where you live to find some new places that you’ve not been before or somewhere completely new then Treasure Trails will have a route for you! It was such a lovely day and we definitely felt like we did a lot of walking but it never felt as though it was getting boring or that we were getting tired. The great thing about being a self-guided tour is that you can spend as long doing it as you want and can even stop off at different places on the way if you see somewhere you like the look of. We spend quite a while in each pub and so instead of the 4 hours it was meant to take, we took about 6 but that was all a part of the fun! I think this would be a great idea for a family day out and I hope to do some different tours in the future 🙂
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Also you can now check out The Ultimate List Of Lifestyle Bloggers 2018 Which I’m very happy to have been included in 🙂