As someone who grew up outside of London, solving clues on a walking mystery trail around the city for Moriarty’s Game seemed like the perfect opportunity to sightsee and learn more about the history of the capital I only recently moved to.

It doesn’t matter if you are not the biggest fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and don’t have much knowledge of Moriarty, as the game, organised by Hidden City, focuses on solving hints to find secret locations dotted around central London, rather than it being a knowledge quiz of the books and television series.

Our starting point was the Royal Institute of British Architects building, on Portland Place, which was only about a ten-minute walk from Oxford Circus underground station. You are required to play in teams of no more than four people and so I invited my friend to join me on the quest, in the hope she found cryptic crosswords less puzzling than I did.

Teams can arrive from 11.30am until the latest starting time at 2pm and so we made it there at midday last Sunday. We stepped into the foyer of RIBA with no idea what the afternoon would bring as the only instructions we were given beforehand were to dress comfortably without resorting to shorts or tracksuits and we waited for a welcome text which would explain how to begin the game.

It is essential to have at least one mobile phone per team as the clues are only sent via messages. Luckily, more than one phone can receive the same texts from a number claiming to be James Moriarty, so if you lose signal or the battery dies, your teammates can request to have the messages diverted to their phone instead. An important tip to remember is always bring a charger as it is almost inevitable your phones will run out of power half way through.

Receiving the first message was exciting as it meant the hunt had begun. Our challenge was to find Moriarty’s safehouse, where he would make us an offer if we completed each of the 20 clues. If we refused his offer at the end, he warned us he would turn our answers from the clues against us. With that daunting prospect in our minds, we accepted the challenge and began the adventure.

The first few clues required us to search around the RIBA building, which was very interesting and educating, as the place is full of history about many old buildings around the city and so we learnt a lot and admired the architecture while trying to work out the riddles that took us to the higher floors of the tower where we had an impressive view of the surrounding skyscrapers.

Clue four took us outside the building and onto a trail that explored the hidden streets and back alleys behind the main shops and businesses. It was a view of London we had never seen before and the trail was full of historical facts and provided plenty of information about significant landmarks in the area that helped us with each clue.

We solved the first few clues fairly quickly, which surprised us both as we admitted before we began that general knowledge was neither of our fortes. However, we got stuck on clue six and were told we had a ten-minute penalty for getting the answer wrong. So, we decided to have a scone and jam break in a nearby café. I had been tweeting how the day had been going so far and taking many photos as we were going along (without revealing any answers, of course), but it had drained the battery on my phone by the mid-afternoon and so my friend had to take over with the posts and messages.

Clue seven required us to use our maths skills, which wasn’t our strongest point and so we embarrassingly sat for nearly an hour trying to add up numbers and solve the problem, knowing we were taking so much time and still had about 13 clues left to do.

Unfortunately, this meant we overran and tried to enter a certain building after 5pm for the next clue but discovered it was closing for the night. We then had to skip past a few of the texts and move on, which was a shame. It is therefore important keep on time so that you don’t miss out on some of the pubs and museums you will encounter along the way.

We carried on but were caught in an unexpected downpour. Of course this is typical British weather much as Dr Watson would have remarked upon, so be prepared for this to happen, especially as the game is mostly outdoors.

The last clue was definitely the hardest. We were in Mayfair at this point and had to find a final pub, otherwise known as Moriarty’s safehouse. We wandered down unknown streets for ages and kept accidentally circling round the same roads but eventually found the correct destination, only to discover it was about to close for the night due to there being a random electrical fault.

The landlord took pity on us knowing we’d had a long and tiring day and he let us in regardless of the pub being shut so we could finally solve the mystery, which we did. It was a relief but also rewarding to know we had managed to complete the game and sightsee around so much of London, despite being terrible at map reading and being unable to count without a calculator. We received the last message we had been waiting for all day, where Moriarty asked us to join his team. We accepted with slight reluctance, as we suddenly realised after a gruelling day that we would actually prefer to be on Sherlock’s side instead.

We completed the game in five hours. Do you think you can beat our time?

Moriarty’s Game, Hidden City, until September 2016. Details: