Walking the Mardyke Way from Purfleet to Bulphan

A couple of weeks ago I returned to the border of Greater London to walk the Mardyke Way. This ancient river has followed the same course for over 30 million years. Today it carves a path through the Essex countryside on the edge of London. The route I took from Purfleet was around 11-miles followed by around another 3 miles to West Horndon Station. This is great walk through fields, meadows and fens.

Aveley - Mardyke Way

I started at Purfleet to capture the point of the Mardyke’s confluence with the Thames. It has an impressive wide mouth, partly marked by the huge brick 18th Century gunpowder magazine. From here there’s a path beside the river for a relatively short distance before I needed to embark on a wide detour along Tank Hill Road to the village of Aveley. The Old Ship Inn marked the start of Ship Lane with its impressive St. Michael’s Church, the oldest parts of which date from the 12th century.

St. Michael's Church Aveley
St. Michael’s Church Aveley
Mardyke Way sign at Aveley

A mile or so along Ship Lane from Aveley you can find the start of the Mardyke Valley path to Stifford. From here the route closely follows the course of the river passing through fields and fringing woodland.

Mardyke Way

It appeared that the walk had two sections – from Aveley to Davy Down then Stifford Bridge to Bulphan but there’s a walkable path the entire way with only short overgrown areas. There were vast expanses of farmland to the East of the river leading up to Orsett Fen and then beyond into Bulphan and far fewer walkers and cyclists in these upper reaches. It was blazing hot, my neck and calves toasted in the sun.

Harrow Bridge Bulphan - Mardyke Way
Harrow Bridge Bulphan

Harrow Bridge at Bulphan marks one end of the Mardyke Way but it did appear possible to follow the river little further north along the roadside. The promised footpath across fields to West Horndon Station didn’t manifest in reality on the ground despite signs at either end (or at least I could’t find it), meaning I had a precarious at times 2.5-mile walk along Dunnings Lane. An incredible walk that has added to my understanding of the landscape around the fringe of London.

Walking the Counters Creek – lost rivers of London

Lost river walk that links two of the magnificent seven

The Counters Creek has haunted me for a few years, just as the lost rivers of London collectively haunt London. It was there as a presence when I’d documented the protests to save the communities and buildings in Earls Court in 2015 & 2016. It reverberated beneath the tombstones of Brompton Cemetery when I filmed Andrew Kötting dressed as Straw Bear drifting through the portico. And one possible source of the Counters Creek was a marker on my psychogeographic sound trail around Kensal Rise for Brent 2020 London Borough of Culture. So I was well overdue a walk along its course.

Source of the Counters Creek - Kensal Rise has a Story plaque - John Rogers Brent 2020
One possible source of the Counters Creek on the Brondesbury Ridge
Kensal Green Cemetery Chapel - Counters Creek Walk
Kensal Green Cemetery Chapel – near the source of the Counters Creek

The recognised source of the Counters Creek is not up on the Brondesbury Ridge at the junction of All Souls Avenue and Chamberlayne Road, although it seems highly likely that springs from this high ground feed into the river. Both Nicholas Barton in his classic Lost Rivers of London, and Tom Bolton in London’s Lost Rivers – a Walkers Guide, place the source in Kensal Green Cemetery hidden beneath a large stone slab. From here it crosses the Grand Union Canal and flows across Little Wormwood Scrubs, beneath the Westway and down through Notting Dale, the edge of Holland Park to Olympia (where I stopped for a pint and accidentally realised the pub was close to the Countess’ Bridge that gave the river its contemporary name), Earls Court, Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road, Kings Road, Lots Road, before making a glorious confluence with the Thames in its above ground guise as Chelsea Creek.

Counters Creek Walk
Interestingly, Nicholas Barton only dedicates one paragraph to the Counters Creek
Grand Union Canal - Counters Creek Walk
I was guided along the course of the Counters Creek by Tom Bolton’s brilliant London’s Lost Rivers – a walker’s guide published by Strange Attractor Press

It truly is one of the great lost river walks – not as celebrated as the Fleet, Tyburn, Westbourne, or Effra – but certainly worthy of a song as Paul Whitehouse had improvised from the deck of a Thames Clipper as we filmed a chat about the Thames and passed the confluence. It’s a shame that song never made the final cut of Episode 2 of Our Troubled Rivers. But the song of the Counters Creek can still be felt rising through its culvert beneath the streets of west London.

John Rogers and Paul Whitehouse
John Rogers and Paul Whitehouse during the filming of Paul Whitehouse Our Troubled Rivers

London Loop Section 2 – Petts Wood to Old Bexley

Continuing my walk on the London Loop

How can it have been two years since I ended Section 3 of the London Loop at Petts Wood? It felt both fantastic and odd to find myself back at Petts Wood station picking up the 150-mile long trail and knocking off the final couple of sections of the London Loop.
I’ve loved all of my London Loop walks, which quite incredibly started with Section 17 in January 2018, and Section 2 did not disappoint, passing largely through woodland for a big chunk of the 8-mile route. I visited Scadbury Moated Manor, Sidcup, crossed the Kyd Brook and most memorably, strolled beside the River Cray as afternoon passed into early evening.

London Loop sign

Some Fantastic Tales of Bloomsbury

This London walking tour takes us around the fabulous squares of Bloomsbury with its fantastic tales.

Our walk starts with the incredible story of Oliver Cromwell’s body being kept in the cellar of The Red Lion pub in Holborn in 1661 and its possible secret burial. Then in Red Lion Square, we investigate the story that the square is haunted by three ghostly cloaked figures. There’s also Conway Hall and the house inhabited by members of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
We move on to Queen Square with the Italian Hospital, Mary Ward Centre, Queen Charlotte, The Queen’s Larder and the Devil’s Dyke. Our Bloomsbury walk passes the Horse Hospital into Russell Square, once the site of a Parliamentarian fortification during the English Civil War. Next we walk along Bedford Way to Gordon Square which is heavily associated with the Bloomsbury Set (Virginia Woolf etc.). The walk ends with a spooky story in Woburn Square.

filmed in September 2022

The most Eastern Point in Greater London

Sometimes quests come to you unexpectedly. I was looking for the source of the Mar Dyke on Google Map and spotted a heritage marker in a field near the village of Bulphan in Essex. Zooming in on the map to see what artefact or building was to be found, it simply read ‘Easternmost Point of Greater London’. I had to go and see what was there.

“Map data ©2024 Google”
“Map data ©2024 Google”

The journey to the eastern edge of Greater London starts on the Romford to Upminster Overground line (to be renamed the Liberty line) and then goes along St Mary’s Lane to Thames Chase Community Forest, crosses the M25 to St Mary Magdalene in North Ockendon then picks up Fen Lane to the border of Greater London on the banks of the Mar Dyke, in the London Borough of Havering.

Walking historic Whitechapel

Join me on a journey through the streets of Whitechapel, one of London’s most vibrant and storied areas. Our East London walking tour begins at Petticoat Lane, a bustling market dating back to the 1600s now known for its lively atmosphere and diverse range of goods. From there, we’ll make our way to Wentworth Street once the heart of the Jewish East End and still a weekday market and centre of textile shops.

As we continue our walk, we’ll visit Commercial Street, where we’ll see Toynbee Hall, a social reform centre that has played a crucial role in the development of the area. From there, we’ll head to East Tenter Street, where we’ll see the impressive St George’s German Church dating from 1720.

Whitechapel Mount according to an 1801 drawing,[1] with the London Hospital to the left
Unknown author - Illustrated London News, 28 April 1862

Next, we’ll make our way to Commercial Road then to the site of the original White Church that gives Whitechapel its name. From there, we’ll visit the iconic Whitechapel Bell Foundry, a historic business that has been casting bells since the 1570s and the site of Whitechapel Fort, one of London’s Civil War defences. Finally, we’ll end our tour at the Whitechapel Mount, located next to the London Hospital.

Throughout our walk, we’ll delve into the rich history and culture of Whitechapel, learning about the fascinating sites and stories that have shaped this vibrant neighbourhood.


Filmed on Christmas Eve 2022

Image credit:
Whitechapel Mount according to an 1801 drawing, with the London Hospital to the left
Unknown author – Illustrated London News, 28 April 1862

Coastal walk from Folkestone to Dover

Last summer I headed out to do the two harbours walk from Folkestone to Dover in Kent, partly following the North Downs Way. This beautiful coastal walk follows the chalk cliffs with stunning views across the Channel ending at the famous white cliffs of Dover. We pass the Martello towers, Abbots Cliff Sound Mirror, Battle of Britain War Memorial, Samphire Hoe and Shakespeare Cliff.
I have to say this was one of the most picturesque walks I’ve done anywhere in the world.

The pints in a hotel bar with my Dad and sister at the end were decent as well.

This links to the walk I did from Folkestone in 2022 to visit the Hythe Sound Mirrors.