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London walks for fair weather or foul.

A London visit means unpredictable, often inclement weather that may call for flexibility in your sightseeing plans. But you don't have to settle for bus tours or taxis; by dodging into nearby hotels, pubs, shops, and museums when rain gets heavy, you can capture the diversity of this exciting city on foot.

Here, we outline two walks bisected by Piccadilly. They reveal an aristocratic London little changed and secure that it will outlast the 20th century. Both begin just outside the Green Park underground "tube" station. Combined, they can make a full day's outing.

Stroll in Mayfair

Allow about 1 1/2 hours (longer if you like to browse) to enjoy a delightful market area, fashionable old houses, and shops. Exit the tube station on the north side of Piccadilly. Follow our map to Curzon Street. Just past Half Moon Street, turn left to Shepherd Market.

Though its May Fair celebrations were known as a "nursery of evil" in the 18th century, Mayfair now presents a refined and sedate face to the world. Shepherd Market has curio and secondhand stores, delightful tiny pubs (no longer required to close after lunch), and sidewalk restaurants-all along Market Mews and Shepherd Street. On the way to the end of Charles Street, look on the Georgian row houses for the neat brass plaques that identify where Beau Brummell, Somerset Maugham, and King William IV lived.

In Hay's Mews, houses were originally stables for Berkeley Square mansions. Continue to the square, in whose houses with wrought-iron railings and gas lamps-Sir Winston Churchill (as a child) and Prime Minister William Pitt once lived. Cross the square for better views, (If time's short, take Berkeley Street back to Piccadilly) Bruton Street passes fur shops and art galleries on its way to Bond Street's shops of epic reputation. To the left is Sotheby's auction house. Turning right points you toward the Burlington Arcade. At Piccadilly, you can return to the tube station or walk to Green Park.

For tea before or after walking, reserve ahead at the Ritz Hotel's Palm Court on the northeast corner of Green Park.

St. James's in the drizzle

Most enjoyable when stores are open, this walk takes 1 to 3 hours. From the Green Park station, walk east on Piccadilly with a detour to sample Burlington Arcade shops. Then continue to the Royal Academy of Arts (open 10 to 6 daily; admission is about $5); through mid-December, works by Henry Moore and ToulouseLautrec are on exhibit.

Cross Piccadilly and continue to Fortnum & Mason, an umbrella and riding-gear shop, and Hatchards London's oldest bookshop. At Church Place, turn right to St. James's Church (excellent coffee house at the rear) and Jermyn Street. This end of the street was badly damaged during World War 11. Small, elegant shops lining Jermyn include Paxton's (English cheeses), Floris (scents), and men's clothiers. Explore Princes and Piccadilly arcades.

There is less shelter during the rest of our walk, so if weather is truly dreadful, return to Piccadilly (the tube station is a few blocks southwest). Otherwise, continue on to King Street (to the left is Christie's, another famous auction house). On St. James's Street, you can find custom shoes and hats, and look at the homesand a plaque commemorating the Republic of Texas's 1842 45 legation on Pickering Place.

Across the street is St. James's Palace (built by Henry VIII). In Stable Yard Road, see Clarence House, the Queen Mother's residence. Note the beautiful iron street lamps with gold crowns. Turn right; take Queen's Walk (named for Caroline, wife of George 11) right back to the tube station, or continue straight ahead to Buckingham Palace.
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Date:Nov 1, 1988
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