Track your favourite Irish writers, Britpop bands or Banksys with these three self-guided city walks
• Three seasoned walkers share their ways to stroll
Before Banksy became a world-famous artist, he was just another kid on the streets of Bristol with a can of spray paint in his hands. Some of his earliest work is hidden around the city, and spotting it makes for a great self-guided walking tour.
Start your walk at The Thekla, a huge former cargo ship-turned-music venue located at East Mud Dock in Bristol Harbour. Banksy’s painting of The Grim Reaper, a white, hooded figure in a rowing boat, can be seen spray painted on its side at the tide mark.
From the harbourside, head towards Park Street. Banksy’s artwork Well Hung Lover – a naked man hanging from a window – is actually on the side of a sexual health clinic on Frogmore Street, but the best views are from the bridge at the bottom of Park Street that crosses over Frogmore. The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is at the top of Park Street, and Banksy’s sculpture Angel Bust, a statue of an angel with a paint pot on her head, can be seen in the main foyer.
From here, head north towards Stokes Croft, where you’ll find plenty of trendy clothes shops, record stores and quirky boutiques. This is the heart of Bristol’s cultural quarter, and Banksy’s painting Mild Mild West is located next to the creative hub The Canteen, where you can also stop for a snack. The whole area resembles an outdoor gallery with colourful graffiti that transforms the walls and buildings – a must for street art fans.
Now catch the No 13 bus from stop C on Penn Street towards Frenchay, getting off at Robertson Road in Easton. It’s slightly further out of the centre, but Banksy used to live in the area and it contains some of his oldest works and so is a mecca for enthusiasts. Cat and Dog – an early Banksy painting of a graffiti-spraying cat, being approached by two threatening dogs – is located on Foster Street, on a wall covered in fantastic street art by many different artists.
Finally, head north-west out of Easton along Fishponds Road, where you will find his hugely popular Gorilla in a Pink Mask on a wall of the former North Bristol Social Club. It was mistakenly painted over in 2011, then partially restored and now appears as a ghostly figure looming out of the mist.
Manchester music walk
This mini-pilgrimage, created by Inspiral Carpets’ drummer, Craig Gill, traces the Manchester music scene’s hotspots, from the grandeur of the Free Trade Hall to the flat where Noel Gallagher wrote Oasis’s early songs.
Start on Peter Street at the Free Trade Hall, the former music venue that was the scene of the Sex Pistols’ gig of 1976 – so influential it supposedly led to the formation of Joy Division, the Smiths, the Fall and Buzzcocks.
Next, head down Mount Street. At the crossing with Windmill Street you’ll see the Manchester Exhibition Centre, formerly the legendary G-Mex music venue where New Order, the Smiths, Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays played. The shot used on the Smiths’ Rank LP was taken here.
Turn left then right down Lower Mosley Street past The Bridgewater Hall, home to Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra.
Crossing the junction at Whitworth Street, walk down Little Peter Street and you’ll find what used to be TJ Davidson’s rehearsal studio, where Joy Division recorded the Love Will Tear Us Apart video. Oasis played their first gig in The Boardwalk next door, a former club now an office block. Also on this road is Sun House, Tony Wilson’s loft apartment, next door to his label Factory Records. Back at Whitworth Street junction, the flats on the corner are where Wilson’s nightclub The Haçienda stood, before it was demolished in 2002. Go east up Whitworth Street to The Ritz, the venue for The Smiths’ first gig, and a block of flats called India House. Noel Gallagher wrote Definitely Maybe while living in No 47. Finish your walk by heading back to the Northern Quarter for a pint at Dry Bar on Oldham Street, opened by Tony Wilson in 1989 – myth has it that Liam Gallagher and Shaun Ryder were barred from it for their rock’n’roll antics.
Dublin literary walk
One of our favourite routes across the city traces a line between the statues of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, taking in the grand Trinity College, where many of Ireland’s most celebrated writers studied.
Start near the corner of North Earl Street and O’Connell Street, under the statue of James Joyce, born in Dublin in 1882. Head down O’Connell Street towards the Abbey Theatre on Abbey Street, established in 1904 by the poet WB Yeats, the activist Edward Martyn and the dramatist Lady Gregory, who were passionate about promoting the arts to strengthen Irish national pride. The theatre was rebuilt after it burned down in 1951.
Cross over O’Connell Bridge and go down D’Olier Street passing the former offices of the Irish Times. At the traffic island on nearby Westmoreland Street stands a statue of the Dublin-born poet Thomas Moore, who helped burned Byron’s memoirs after they were deemed too scandalous to be published.
Continue on towards Trinity College, whose alumni include Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Jo Shapcott and Ann Enright. Do not pass beneath its famous Campanile when the bell tolls; college superstition decrees that you will fail all your exams. From the bell tower head left into Fellows’ Square to see the illuminated Book of Kells manuscript in the college library. Created by Celtic monks in the Abbey of Kells in around c800, its lavishly decorated pages contain the four Gospels and the New Testament.
Exiting the campus, turn left on Lincoln Place and you’ll pass Sweny’s, the former pharmacy that appears in Joyce’s Ulysses, and where you can pick up a box of the “sweet lemony” soap made famous by the novel. Head down Merrion Street, entering the park by the first small gate, for a rendezvous with Oscar Wilde, whom you’ll find reclining on a large stone. Wilde lived at No 1 Merrion Square during 1855-76 and WB Yeats at No 82 during 1922-28.
Your journey ends with coffee and cake in one of the grand mahogany booths at Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton Street. It is a hub of Dublin cultural life, and regulars included Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh and Samuel Beckett.
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