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London Spy Tours

Learn more about the different London spy tours offered by THE INTELLIGENCE TRAIL . Critically acclaimed by the pros: beware of cheap imitations!

Here’s the brief, appetite-whetting, summaries of the different London spy tours available for you and your friends, work colleagues or student groups.

All of these tours are delivered on foot and generally take around three hours. Click on the links for the full tour webpage.

The CLASSIC TRAIL spans the decades. There’s old and new to keep you absorbed, including:-
Ian Fleming’s intelligence activities during WWII; the Cambridge Spy Ring; arch MI6 traitor George Blake;  Libyan rapprochement; Egyptian defenestration; the ‘spy hotel of London spy hotels’ and who frequented it…and more.

EARLY YEARS TOUR (1909-1945)
Taking you back to the origins and first decades of Britain’s intelligence services, the Early Years tour is packed with personalities who have played the spy game – some heroically, others treacherously – through these years. With dubious invisible ink, exploding cars and double crossing galore to hear about: who said the early years were boring?! With two World Wars and more to deal with, there’s lots to learn.

COLD WAR TOUR (1945-1992)
Learn about key incidents and personalities playing the intelligence game during the decades-long tension between East and West on the Cold War tour, including: British traitors Vassall, Bossard, Blake, AND one would-be traitor; – the two Oleg’s playing their part in turning the tide; the importance of underground stations to the KGB; the case against Roger Hollis.

WESTMINSTER & WATER TOUR
Passing not only some of the locations used by the agencies, but also institutions associated with the espionage and intelligence world from the 1920’s to the present. Highlights include: Modern-day MI5, MI6, and GCHQ and the issues they face; Prime Ministers, Parliamentarians and the spooks; Intelligence and Iraq; the ‘Spy school’ for both arguably Britain’s worst  spy traitor AND one of Britain’s most unconventional WWII intelligence officers; the former home of one of the most colourful – and controversial – MI6 Chiefs in the Service’s history.

SEXPIONAGE TOUR
Sex and spying come together as the edgier antics of the ‘second oldest profession’ are revealed on London’s streets.  Scandals, seduction, entrapment, and defection all feature. Highlights include: the private life of James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming; the sexual antics of the Cambridge Spy Ring; Britain’s worst Cold War political scandal; MI5 redressing the balance due to the UNdressing KGB operative; Katia and the Parliamentary penetration?
WARNING: this tour is NOT for the prudish or easily offended! Open-minded adults only!

MAYFAIR AND MOTHER RUSSIA
From the Cold War to more recent times, walk through London’s most opulent district and learn more about the intelligence game being played out between Britain and Russia through the years.

Highlights include: ‘The Polonium Trail’: the Alexander Litvinenko affair; Roger Hollis and the MI5 molehunts; the last London days of Cambridge Spy Ring member Guy Burgess; Russian DLB signal sites;  Anna Chapman at work and play…… and MUCH more!
This tour has MANY spy locations en-route that can’t all be discussed in detail due to time constraints, but will be pointed out along the way.

 

Praise & Propaganda

Judged by the company one keeps? If so, THE INTELLIGENCE TRAIL is in fine fettle. Here’s what’s being said.

The ‘Trail has appeared on radio, television and featured in national and international press, as well as garnering praise from many tour clients along the way.

Here are some selected highlights:

RADIO / TV

BBC Radio 2: Friday Night is Music Night
‘Trail guide Brian Gray takes Radio 2 listeners on a mini Intelligence Trail around central London during the interval of the BBC Concert Orchestra’s performance of classic spy themes.

KING 5 (US television station) London Spy Tour
The ‘Trail on TV! Seattle reporter Jim Dever (and trusty cameraman Mike) joins Brian on the ‘Trail, highlighting some of the key spots featured on the tour. Recorded in June 2012, this short feature was broadcast during the London Olympics in August 2012, and shown again in December that year.

PRINT

The National Post (Canada, newspaper) London Olympics: Going to the Games? Why not hit the Spy Trail while you’re at it
Toronto-based writer Nancy Wigston comes on the ‘Trail and finds it ‘better than the movies’.

Group Travel Business Forum
‘Trail head Brian Gray ditched his customary ‘man in black’ look and got booted and suited (with a nice bright tie) to talk marketing – in particular, marketing strategy – to group travel attractions.

Group Travel Organiser magazine Expert View
Brian Gray, Head of Marketing for THE INTELLIGENCE TRAIL provides some insight and opinion regarding group tour provision and customer focus.

TESTIMONIALS
It is always the intention to deliver a first-rate experience, and thankfully, this has been achieved, judging by the feedback received.

It goes without saying that feedback is much appreciated, whether to discuss any particular aspects or just to give your general thoughts. It’s all gratefully received, and you’re thanked in advance for your time and thoughts if you choose to get in touch.

The following are some of the GENUINE testimonials provided by ‘Trail customers over the years. You can find more (again, GENUINE) reviews on TripAdvisor, which you can access by clicking on the link at the page footer. More are provided elsewhere on the website

“The Intelligence Trail is a very well researched and interesting insight into the history and evolution of the secret world of intelligence gathering and espionage. Conducted in and around Whitehall, it was fascinating to visit the various sites of interest whilst being briefed on the famous (and infamous) by an articulate and well informed guide. Highly recommended.”
Major, Royal Marines, Defence School of Intelligence, UK

“The Intelligence Trail in London was a truly memorable experience. Brian Gray delivered an in-depth and fascinating tour that took me to locations both famous and infamous, and he made the past come to life with his anecdotes and intimate details. As an author, I am unable to spend thirty seconds with a subject matter expert such as Brian without asking a question; he had all the answers and he took me deeper into the history of London’s intelligence community than I could have imagined.”
Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times Bestselling Co-author of ‘Threat Vector’- By Tom Clancy with Mark Greaney, and national bestselling author of ‘The Gray Man’ series.

“Mr. X certainly knows his stuff: From the moment Mr. X mysteriously appears at the rendezvous, he captivates his audience with tales and secrets of the entangled web of the spy world. Interesting facts and Mr. X’s wit and knowledge on this subject makes the events complete value for money and many a talking point!
Social Co-ordinator, Atkins Limited, UK

“This tour is excellent! A great way to learn about the hidden history and intriguing mysteries of MI5 & MI6 that are scattered throughout London. The guide was really enthusiastic and knowledgeable and really brought the stories alive on the streets and alleyways of the city. If you’re interested in any era of intelligence…this is the tour for you. I would highly recommend it.”
Corinne T., Philadelphia, USA

 

 

 

UK Spy Podcast

What other London spy tour besides THE INTELLIGENCE TRAIL also creates and produces a critically acclaimed UK spy podcast for you to listen to? That’s right, none.

Listen to ‘Trail guide Brian Gray dissect and comment on the latest UK intelligence issues each month on the Sunday Spy Show from Spies & Shadows TV: available here and on iTunes.

You’ll have probably already realised that THE INTELLIGENCE TRAIL is all about offering content-rich (while highly enjoyable!) learning experiences. The most obvious examples are the private spy tours in central London, but talks and visits are other vehicles for educating those interested in the second oldest profession.

Spies & Shadows TV logoBack in 2015 however the decision was made to take things a step further. A BIG step further. And so Spies & Shadows TV was born….

A few years later and the monthly Sunday Spy Show has been called “…the best spy podcast anywhere in the world.”  That’s praise indeed, especially when that endorsement came from a seasoned US intelligence practitioner who also just happened to be previously in charge of the White House Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

SPIES & SHDOWS TV CHILCOT REPORT MEDIA ANALYSIS
(C) SPIES & SHADOWS TV

Now settling on a monthly UK spy podcast (it’s been weekly, fortnightly and bi-monthly over the years) schedule, it’s the perfect opportunity to understand what’s going on with MI5, MI6, and GCHQ as reported by the world’s media. Trail guide Brian Gray has the ominous task of selecting the key stories that will make the show, and then dissect it for further comment and opinion. And he doesn’t hold back!

SPIES & SHDOWS TV CHILCOT REPORT ANALYSIS
(C) SPIES & SHADOWS TV

For example, the podcast has arguably been the only one in the UK that’s regularly covered the progress and criticism of the formidable – and outright draconian – Investigatory Powers Bill at each stage, plus the possible overhauling of the Official Secrets Act. There’s also been in-depth reaction and opinion on the Chilcot Report. Where mainstream media fears to tread – either due to lack of thought, time, or editorial guidelines – there’s little to stop the Sunday Spy Show going head first into things.

With regular interviews featuring intelligence authors from the UK and beyond, plus established US intelligence contributor Professor Michael Brady (one third of podcast listeners are from the USA – bemusing for a UK intelligence podcast!) commenting on the latest Stateside intel issues, the Sunday Spy Show is firmly establishing itself in the realm of intelligent intelligence comment and opinion.

S&S Sunday Spy Show Ep 50, 05-06-17Just like the tours however, there’s always room for a bit of light-heartedness here and there. Whether it’s commenting on spy film news, or asking authors which spy dinner guests (alive or dead, real or fictitious) they’d invite around, you’ll hopefully have a smile on your face at some point when you listen to it.

And if you’ve not listened to it before, here’s your chance!  Just push play on the embedded player below to listen to Episode 50 which features some of the best bits from previous shows. There’s interviews and excerpts galore for you to get stuck into. Or you can either listen to it on the Spies & Shadows website, Sound Cloud, or on iTunes.

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Here’s hoping you get your quick fix of UK intelligence news and comment courtesy of the Sunday Spy Show. And if that further whets your appetite to book your own private London spy tour with the ‘Trail, so much the better!