Walking the Essex Way – Manningtree to Harwich

The Essex Way is an 81-mile long distance path starting in Epping at the end of the Central Line. I walked that first section from Epping to Chipping Ongar in September 2019 and what a glorious walk it was.

Taking advantage of the hot weather last week, I decided to return to the Essex Way to walk the final section from Manningtree to Harwich – a walk that had been on my radar for a while. It certainly didn’t disappoint. From the beguiling streets and harbour at Manningtree on the banks of the Stour Estuary, where the Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins wrote his Discovery of Witches in 1647, to the Mistley Towers and down through Wrabness then out to the North Sea, every footstep was majestic. There was even a windmill near the village of Ramsay and a friendly horse that followed me across a field.

Arriving in the sleeping town of Harwich as a ferry slid out of the Harbour was the perfect end to the walk.

Walking through the History of Wanstead Park

Shot across two freezing cold days in February, I finally set out to make a video about the history of Wanstead Park. It’s a place so rich in narratives that I was slightly intimidated by the idea of trying to capture this on camera in one walk but knew it was time to have a go anyway.

Video description, credits and info

Wanstead Park, in the London Borough of Redbridge and controlled by the Corporation of London, has a history that stretches back to the Mesolithic period. Flint artefacts have been found in the park as well as a Bronze Age arrowhead and numerous Roman antiquities.
The Park is famous for being the landscaped grounds of Richard Child, Earl Tylney’s enormous mansion, Wanstead House. When the house was built in 1715 it was said to be one of the finest ‘palaces’ in all of Europe. Sir Josiah Child had purchased Wanstead House in 1673 and passed it on to his son, Richard, who became Earl Tylney. It was when the house and park was inherited by Catherine Tylney Long who married William Pole Wellesley in 1812 that the story enters into the folklore of East London and Essex.

But the manor of Wanstead goes back much further in time. A favourite hunting lodge of Henry VII, it was frequently visited by Elizabeth I when owned by Richard Dudley, Earl of Leicester and later the Earl of Essex. James I was also very fond of Wanstead Hall.

Wanstead Park was saved for the people of London by the Corporation of London as part of Epping Forest, and is a real treasure of East London. The bluebells in Chalet Wood are a major attraction, and the extensive ponds are home to an array of birds – most notably Herons.

Shot edited and presented by John Rogers
Drone footage by highflyingdroneshots.co.uk / instagram.com/highflyingdrone
Thanks to: Wanstead Golf Club, Sam and Mike, and Geoff Burrage
Castlemaine XXX image from Wikimedia Commons CC licence
Open Street Map “© OpenStreetMap contributors” using data available under the Open Database Licence

*The drone footage used in this video was shot by a fully insured operator with CAA permissions and was captured in accordance with regulations and local bylaws.

A walk through Camden Town

A Camden Town Walking Tour – Pubs, Market, Venues, History in 4K

Our walking tour of Camden Town starts on Haverstock Hill at the Sir Richard Steele pub then passes Chalk Farm Station. From here we see The Enterprise pub and the Camden Roundhouse, scene of the Congress of the Dialectics of Liberation in 1967.

After a detour down Belmont Street we visit The Lock Tavern, and The Monarch/Barfly before heading into the recently refurbished Stables Market. From here we pass into Camden Lock Market and visit Black Gull bookshop where I buy a couple of Terry Pratchett books.

We cross the Regent’s Canal and look back to Dingwalls before heading down Camden High Street past the Electric Ballroom and the Good Mixer in Inverness Street.

Over the road from Camden Station we have The World’s End, formerly the Mother Redcap and the Underworld. Further along the High Street we pop in on The Camden’s Head home of the brilliant Camden Comedy Club before making our way to Camden Palace, now Koko.

We double back along the High Street to have a look at the Jewish Museum and then pay homage to Madness at The Dublin Castle.

Our Camden Town walking tour concludes at Cecil Sharp House.

Fellowship Films at launch of Fellowship Square Walthamstow

Fellowship Square at Walthamstow Town Hall

Last weekend saw the launch of the newly designed Fellowship Square at Walthamstow Town Hall. The centrepiece being a new fountain and water jets which created great mirth amongst the children of the borough. I was delighted to be screening a couple of films in the Fellowship Films programme put together by the fantastic Stow Film Lounge.

A Walk around Greenwich Peninsula

The development on Greenwich Peninsula is being described in the marketing literature as ‘New London’. Situated by North Greenwich Station and the O2 Arena/ Millennium Dome on a peninsula jutting out into the River Thames, the development boasts of 17,000 new homes and 12,000 new jobs. It’s built on what was once Bugsby’s Marshes or Greenwich Marshes. It was at the centre of Britain’s Millennium celebrations with the building of the Millennium Dome. On a windy day at the end of March I set out to walk this ‘New London’.

This walk starts and ends at the Dome – heading up onto The Tide then walking along Parkside East to Millennium Village and Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park before following the path along Bugsby’s Reach to Blackwall Point, passing Antony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud sculpture along the way. The walk also has great views across the River Thames to Silvertown, Trinity Buoy Wharf and the Isle of Dogs.

The long walk from Leytonstone to Ware

‘So make up your mind to be bound by no programme’

SPB Mais

The urge was to just walk. Get some miles under the belt. I’ve felt my stamina drop in this second year of the plague, becoming leg-weary at the 10-mile mark and on the handful of occasions I’ve strayed close to 15-miles, absolutely wiped out. I needed this walk to be as uncomplicated as possible – no travel on the way out, the walk would start from the front door. No filming. The only record would be jotted down in my notebook and some quick phone snaps on the hoof.

Crooked Billet Walthamstow

11.30am – leave home and head along the high ground north – Bakers Arms Leyton, Hoe Street, Chingford Road. The route I took on my first long Lea Valley walk in midwinter that ended in Hertford.

1pm – rest at Chingford Mount Broadway near the War Memorial. It’s hot and sunny, 22 degrees. Think I’ll stay on this side of the Lea till Enfield Lock.

2.39pm – rest on a shaded bench by the Mill Pond near Enfield Marina. Relish the cool breeze. Think of Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair passing through here on the Edith Walk. Birdsong. I love this walk but don’t think I’ve taken this back path to Enfield for a few years now. Great to cross paths with former walks/selves. Took the road through Sewardstone to the Essex border then onto the footpath that runs beneath the reservoir. For some reason The Boatman by The Levellers played in my head, so I played it out loud on my phone as I walked. No-one around.
Legs hurt a bit. Spent 15 mins buying sunglasses from Poundstretcher at Chingford Mount.

Read a random page of Nick Papadimitriou’s Scarp and think how great it would be to revive my old idea of publishing a collection of his topographical pieces.


3.54pm – Costa Coffee at Waltham Abbey. Got here just before 3.30 and mooched in TK Maxx for some cooler shorts and t-shirt and picked up some running gear. Somehow I came out only with a lightweight long-sleeved top. Walked 12.3 miles to here. Legs and feet very sore. Cheese toastie, Coke and Crisps for a late lunch. I had a coffee and Danish at 12.30 from the coffeeshop near the Bell in Walthamstow. Next stop should be at Broxbourne. It’s the next section of this walk that’s the real treat in the evening light.
Although my legs are still sore there’s the sense that it’s time to move along.

4.58pm – it’s about knowing when to rest. My feet are sore so I stop on a bench somewhere between Cheshunt and Broxbourne (Turnford?). 14.9 miles

6.43pm – sat on a broken bench about half-a-mile past Rye House. 20 miles walked. Thighs and calves very sore but cardio is good. Hot and sweaty. Took the New River Path from Broxbourne to Rye House – shirtless guy boombox blaring, family gathering around a tree festooned with red balloons and decorations, group of lads smoking weed and we exchange a few words. Then throw a tennis ball several times for a young Springer after he retrieves it from the river.
Beautiful early evening birdsong by the Lea – not a soul around. Sound of the train whooshing past.

7.33pm – stop at the Jolly Fisherman near St. Margaret’s Station on the banks of the Lea. I’ve walked past this pub so many times and always vowed to stop for a drink one day. At 21.2 miles I’m a bit knackered and couldn’t find it in me to push on for that final stretch to Ware without stopping here. It became a question of where do I want my pint? And I preferred here to my usual pub on the bridge at Ware which I now associate with the day Mum died when I walked to Youngsbury burial mound and ended up here trying to absorb it all. I realise that I’ve somehow attached my mother to this part of the world through the walk that day.
I’m drinking McMullens Rivertown Pilsner with a packet of cheese and onion McCoys. This really is a great spot for a pint. I put on the new ‘supersoft’ pale blue top – feels good, but a second layer seemed unthinkable just an hour ago.

8.03pm – I order a half or Rivertown to give myself the option of continuing the walk but there’s no way I was ready to carry on.

New River Path
Stanstead Abbotts

How does this walk relate to the timeline of the pandemic? When I came through here a year ago I was breaking out of London for the first time – there was a strange atmosphere. Today it feels relatively normal. A couple row past in an inflatable dinghy.

9.23pm – a bench by the Lea at Ware opposite the Saracen’s Head with a can of Neckoil and double pack of sausage rolls. Train leaves in 20 minutes. The Saracens is throbbing. Is this the vaccine summer?

Catch the 9.43pm train to Stratford. Total distance = 24.9 miles to my front door. I needed that.

Waterside Inn, Ware