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Sherlock Holmes - Explore exhibitions, film locations and favourite haunts of the great fictional detective

By Cathy Stapells

As October welcomes the 'Sherlock Holmes: The man who has never lived and will never die' exhibition at the Museum of London (running between October 17 2014 – April 12 2015), now is an ideal time to dust off the magnifying glass to explore the atmospheric locations in Britain that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his stories of the great detective.

 

The world of the greatest fictional detective of all time will be illuminated at the Museum of London this autumn, in a dedicated exhibition, which will be the largest of its kind for over 60 years. Drawing on the museum's fabulous Victorian and Edwardian collection and bringing together Sherlock Holmes material from across the globe, including several key world-class loans, visitors will be able to see the iconic Belstaff coat and the Derek Rose camel dressing gown worn by Benedict Cumberbatch, from the Sherlock BBC television series. www.museumoflondon.org.uk

Created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, Sherlock Holmes is a character adored by his fans. London is almost a character in itself in the Sherlock stories and it's hard to imagine the detective living anywhere else and visitors can explore the city as Sherlock did and visit some of his favourite haunts.

Follow in the footsteps of actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who play Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson respectively, for a pilgrimage around the filming locations used in London and see if you can solve the next clue.

Start with a visit to Sherlock and Watson's famous address, 221B Baker Street. While it doesn't actually exist, the exterior of their flat as seen in the series is shot in this quieter west London road, 25 minutes' walk from Baker Street, at 187 North Gower Street. (Nearest tube: Euston Square)

Next door is Speedy's Sandwich Bar and Café. Featured numerous times, this unassuming 'caff' has become a Mecca for Sherlock fans, not least because it provided refreshments for Cumberbatch during filming. Try their Sherlock wrap – chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, crispy lettuce, red onions, red peppers, cucumber and chilli sauce. (Nearest tube: Euston Square.) www.speedyscafe.co.uk

A key Sherlock location, St Bartholomew's Hospital in West Smithfield is not only where the legendary initial meeting between Holmes and Dr Watson took place, but is also the rooftop for the detective's final showdown with arch-villain Moriarty and the death-defying leap that follows at the end of series three. While you can't go up there yourself, relive the moment (and admire the 18th-century architecture) from Watson's point of view safe on the ground. (Nearest tube: St Paul's.)

Sherlock and John walk down colourful Gerrard Street, the heart of London's Chinatown, on their way to Oriental curio shop The Lucky Cat in the mystery of The Blind Banker. Pick up a lucky cat of your own and be sure to admire the traditional gates that stand at either end of the street, before finally succumbing to the delicious scent of roasting duck. (Nearest tube: Leicester Square.) www.chinatownlondon.org

The Tower of London is the final stop on Moriarty's mischief-making tour of London, where he leaves a message, "Get Sherlock", before playing dress-up with the Crown Jewels. You can get close to them yourself on a tour of the Tower, where you'll also learn about its dramatic and bloody history. (Nearest tube: Tower Hill; Opens 9am; $37.50 for adults.) Buy tickets on the VisitBritain shop. www.visitbritainshop.com

Head to the Strand in central London and The Lyceum Theatre, where meetings took place in The Sign of Four, and take a look at the beautiful Royal Opera House nearby, a favourite Sherlock haunt. While in the area, enjoy dinner at Sherlock's favourite restaurant, Simpson's in the Strand, for some traditional English food and do as Sherlock did by "looking down at the rushing stream of life in the Strand". You should definitely also visit The Criterion round the corner at Piccadilly, which is where Conan Doyle first imagined the meeting between Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, in its Long Bar. Continue to Bloomsbury to see London icon the British Museum, often visited by the detective for his research. From here, hop onto the Tube and head to St Paul's Cathedral where key scenes were shot for the 2009 Sherlock movie. www.lyceum-theatre.co.uk, www.roh.org.uk, www.simpsonsinthestrand.co.uk, www.criterionrestaurant.com, www.britishmuseum.org, www.stpauls.co.uk

Other destinations sure to be of interest to Sherlock fans include, The Sherlock Holmes Museum, a Grade II-listed building devoted to the detective. It features a re-creation of his sitting room, and a gift shop. The Sherlock Homes Pub in Westminster is stuffed with memorabilia, including Dr Watson's old service revolver and his favourite food, Cumberland sausages. (Nearest Tube: Charing Cross.) www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk, www.sherlockholmespub.com

Outside of Sherlock's main haunts in London, Unique Devon Tours offer a Hound of the Baskervilles tour of Dartmoor in Devon, on the south-west coast of England and approximately three hours via train from London. The tour takes in places that Conan Doyle spent time at while planning and writing the story, as well as the Moors, which feature so heavily in the classic story. Tour guide Alex also has a personal connection that he saves for the tour and one he promises 'should enhance your experience considerably!' www.uniquedevontours.com/hound-baskervilles