Wanstead to Barking along the River Roding

A Friday morning at the end of September and the chance to walk along the River Roding from Wanstead to Barking. Finally I hunted down the elusive Alders Brook near the City of London Cemetery. A dog walker who has been strolling this way for 30 years told me he’d never heard of it and I had to show it marked on my old A-Z. But there it was, overgrown and clogged up but still running free through the undergrowth.

Uphall Camp Barking

source: An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 2, Central and South west. Originally published by His Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1921.

The other side of the construction carnage around Ilford town centre I stood on the streets where the Iron Age settlement of Uphall Camp stood, near the banks of the Roding. Today lines of terraced houses named after periods of British History cover the site.

overgrown football pitch at Wanstead

football pitch at Wanstead

Ilford new buildings


The River Roding at Barking

The River Roding at Barking

I passed the Quaker burial grounds at Barking before picking up the riverbank path down to the wharfside developments that have temporarily created tumbleweed wild west outposts. After breaching the A13 sadly it was time to head back to Leytonstone before I had reached Beckton which was the aim for the day. But I had surveyed more of the land the lies along one of our sacred Eastern rivers, and seen parts of the London of the distant past and got a glimpse of one of the new Londons taking shape.


  1. Clive Power   •  

    I thought your video well showed the problem of access to the Roding – from a little north of Romford Road, Ilford down to near Barking. I’ve suggested to Redbridge council that they should try use access to the river to improve the currently grim approach to Ilford under the North Circular Road overpass – even if just opening a walk a few hundred meters in either direction along the river.

    And, yes, the Alders brook is quite a bit more of a stream after rain.

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks for the comment Clive. I agree – they should open up the riverbank to the South linking with Barking

  2. John Low   •  

    Great walk John! It’s wonderful how these old rivers and streams still give that touch of natural beauty to the urban ‘wilderness’ that surrounds them. Always fascinating, too, are the ‘meetings of the waters’, the confluence of streams, rivers and creeks. Glad you found where the Alders Brook meets the River Roding. The ducks grazing in the muddy confluence added a nice touch. I recently read a very interesting article in the London Review of Books (27 July 2017) on the term ‘The Meeting of the Waters’ and how its use increased enormously and spread widely following the publication of Irish poet Thomas Moore’s song of that name in 1808. Did you see this? I think you’d enjoy it. We have a pretty well-known one in the Blue Mountains (NSW) where two small creeks meet and send their joined waters over the falls into the Jamison Valley at Leura. Maybe you visited it during your time in Australia. Anyway, many thanks.

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks for the wonderful comment John – the mention of Leura transporting me back through time and space. Oddly I was looking at the Blue Mountains on a map just the other night and remembering the many great trips out there (inevitably getting lost one winter just as it got dark and somehow finding the trail again). I must have missed that article in the LRB, probably because I always read it in the pub. Will dig it out now. Thanks again

  3. Mike Gregory   •  

    Enamored with your site. My mother used to play on Wanstead flats and my posh Aunt lived on the Ilford side and my Mother and Father were cremated in the Cemetery. I am a Barking boy and only knew the Roding from the Town Quay to the Thames, famed for its extreme pollution. Barking had been a significance fishing port and had a saint: St Ethelberga, or maybe not.

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