Londonist's Back Passage

By M@ Last edited 122 months ago
Londonist's Back Passage

And that's 'Back' in more ways than one. Long-time readers may remember our (n)ever-popular journeys through the capital's snickleways and ginnels. Each week, we'd explore a fresh, and sometimes not so fresh, shortcut through the busy thoroughfares of London. Well, thanks to some words of encouragement in our recent readers' survey, the alleyways have returned. So pinch your nose, check that your wallet's secure, and follow us into Londonist's back passage.

37. Charing Cross highwalk


Where? North-east side of Charing Cross station. Connects the Hungerford footbridge to the station concourse, with views down on to Villiers Street.

What? Extensive passage, sometimes indoors, sometimes outdoors.

For those who seek variety in their shortcuts, this one has everything. Outdoor views of the Embankment and Thames, an indoor stretch of vintage creepiness, the smell of piss, crude street art, postmodern colonnades and even, at the Charing Cross end, a mini-market.

The latter is a throwback to the ancient Hungerford Market, which once specialised in shrimps from the Thames. Today you're more likely to find cheap bangles and headscarves, but a nod to the past is always welcome, however lacklustre.

The highwalk dates from 1990, when the station was completely reworked by Sir Terry Farrell. The architect will be popping up on Londonist again soon, as the mastermind behind the revamped Royal Institution, which will be opened by the Queen next week.

Why use? This is a crafty little shortcut if you're walking from the South Bank to Charing Cross. No jostling with street-level crowds for you. Oh no. The high walk bypasses the melee of Villiers Street and gets you onto the station concourse with ne'er a hint of Big Issue.

If you'd like to probe our back passages in more detail, check out our Google Map and archive.

Last Updated 22 May 2008


Hooray! It's back! I have missed London's back passage dearly...

Amanda Farah

I'm pretty sure this is the path Hazel and I got stuck on when we took the lift up on the Southbank, foolishly assuming that there would be a lift down into the station that wouldn't require walking all over God's sweet creation to get to.

Dave Knapik

I stumbled upon this weird and creepy little walkway by accident several months ago. Fortunately (and not surprisingly) it was desolate, so I was able to take a few snaps there.

I've been through many scary urban back roads, but this one really carries that sense that you could be killed at any moment quite nicely.


Passing Alley, Clerkenwell please. I don't think it's been done.... hooray for back passages!