The far side of Wanstead Flats

A late afternoon wander across Wanstead Flats across traces of ancient usage and possible Roman routes.

Resist the lure of The Golden Fleece, where I haven’t been for years, and get drawn down The Chase that appears as a remnant of old country Forest Gate.

Loop around Alexandra Lake through sunset into gloom and to The Red Lion and a few magickal pages of Alan Moore’s Voices of the Fire.

Boxing Day Walk

Antelope Leyton

I start with no fixed plan and follow my feet along Midland Road, Leyton then down Farmer Road to Church Road and the still boarded up Antelope pub. There’s been online chatter about getting this place open again and despite the success of other revived pubs in the area the Antelope continues to lie dormant.

Etloe House, Leyton
Etloe House with its secret water sources of legend in the grounds

I contemplate heading towards the Angel or wonder whether to turn towards Walthamstow. We’re spoilt for choice.

Dagenham Brook, Leyton
All Hail the Dagenham Brook
Marsh Lane Leyton
Marsh Lane

It’s cold and my beanie is still damp from being caught in Christmas Day rain. My pate is chilled. Walking down Marsh Lane reminds me of the pre-Olympic protests of 2006 and 2007 (filmed for BBC documentaries) when it was feared this ancient open space would be gobbled up by the land-grab.

railway bridge at Leyton
Lee Navigation
boat on Lee Navigation

I miss the old Waterworks Pitch and Putt.
Cross the Friends Bridge to Hackney Marshes and then onto the towpath for a short section to Leyton Marsh.
Woodsmoke on the towpath. Bohemian London is afloat.
People walking in big Boxing Day family groups. People up from the country. Clean wellies.

I’ll save the walk from here into the City for a tracing of the Black Path that I’ll shoot for YouTube.

Lea Valley Riding Centre
Lea Valley Riding Centre
bridge from Walthamstow Marsh to Argall Industrial Area
the bridge of flies
Argall Industrial Area
Argall Industrial Area
Excalibur House Argall Industrial Area
Excalibur Works
Excalibur House Argall Industrial Area

Into Argall Industrial Area. I love it here for some reason. Excalibur Works appears as almost the perfect brick unit – a gorgeous monument to industrial modernism. I want a studio/ workspace here. The light is incredible. I get a flood of happy memories of walks that’ve taken me through industrial estates around the fringe of London, often at sunset in glowing light.
There’s a strong smell of bread in the air.

Low Hall Woodland

People are working out to music at Low Hall Recreation Ground.
I take the path up through the woodland – like a country lane. A small dog tries to pick up a stick that’s far too big. A toddler waves goodbye to a particularly large puddle.

Walthamstow High Street
Walthamstow High Street
Ricco's Walthamstow High Street
Ricco’s

The vibe in Ricco’s coffee bar on Walthamstow High Street has changed since my school-run days. This was my go-to place on the High Street on laps from Leytonstone. But the coffee and sandwiches are still good.

Walthamstow Mall Tower building site

The town centre tower as viewed from the viewing terrace in the Mall – seemingly constructed to offer a platform to watch the never-ending building works.
I emerge from the Mall into the gloom of 4.15pm.
There’s magic in the gloaming.

Path through St Mary's Walthamstow
St Mary’s Walthamstow

Up Church Hill then through St Mary’s Churchyard to the Village, which seems unusually quiet. I’m starting to feel tired. Turn down Eden Road to Leyton High Road. Over Leyton Green into Essex Road and the straight path to the Red Lion for restorative pints with Joe.

Kebab shop on Leyton High Road
Leyton High Road
Greenwich Meridian, Leyton
Essex Road, Leyton

Plaque unveiling in Swedenborg Gardens

Swedenborg Gardens plaque unveiling
Photo by Mark Riley

The other Saturday saw the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the association of Swedish philosopher, theologian, scientist and mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg and Prince’s Square, Shadwell. Swedenborg Gardens now marks the area where the Swedish Church once stood and where Emanuel Swedenborg was originally buried.

Swedenborg Gardens plaque unveiling
Iain Sinclair at the unveiling of the plaque in Swedenborg Gardens
Iain Sinclair
Iain Sinclair and John Rogers at Swedenborg Gardens

Stephen McNeilly from Swedenborg House and a Tower Hamlets Councillor unveiled the plaque, the Iain Sinclair spoke eloquently about the legacy of Emanuel Swedenborg’s relationship with London and the lasting imprint he left behind. I then spoke briefly about the recent video I made with Iain and Stephen tracing the footprints of Swedenborg’s London.

Swedenborg Gardens
Emanuel Swedenborg plaque, Swedenborg Gardens