Secrets of the East: along a Hidden River to a Medieval shrine in Ilford

This January walk takes us once again back into the past, where the landscape reveals the deep history of this area and tells us its stories. We start by exploring two Possible Prehistoric ditches on Wanstead Flats near Centre Road/north of the Jubilee Pond and running Southeast to Centre Road.

You can read the archaeological report here:

Then we pass through the uncanny suburb of Aldersbrook to pick up the River Roding. We follow the Roding as it runs beside Ilford Golf Club and find the mysterious little Alders Brook, a beguiling rivulet that for some of the year is little more than a muddy ditch hidden in the undergrowth. The dramatic January floods and the high tide filled the Alders Brook with water and revealed it as a flowing river. We follow the Alders Brook as it passes beneath the railway bridge at the Butts (possibly named after the rifle butts on adjacent lands in the 19th Century) and then runs parallel to the Roman Romford Road and returns to the River Roding at Ilford Bridge beneath the North Circular flyover.

The final stretch of our walk takes us up Ilford Hill to the Hospital Chapel dedicated to St Mary and St Thomas of Canterbury. The Chapel was established around the year 1140 by the Abbess of Barking as a leper hospital. It became a stopping place for pilgrims and medieval travellers passing through the area. It’s a wonderful hidden location.


  1. chriss   •  

    Just watched Isle of Dogs walk. Loved It! Sorry about the slip on the moor near Heathrow. I just love watching your rambles.

    For me, you are starting to look like my idea of Merlin!

    Love watching from PA. USA,

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks Chriss

  2. Daniel Low   •  

    Just wondering should a watercourse of which its source and confluence is the same entity have its own separate name.The Roding Brook would be a more apt name

    • JohnR   •     Author

      That’s a fair point Daniel

  3. Daniel Low   •  

    Its ok i’m not calling for a name change love your work all the best

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