Welcome to New London book launch

Welcome to New London

I’m delighted to announce that my new book, Welcome to New London – journeys and encounters in the post-Olympic city is being launched at the brilliant Wanstead Tap on 10th & 11th October. Tickets can be purchased here and books will be available on the night.

Book synopsis

Iain Sinclair has described Welcome to New London as, “An invaluable and informed super-tour by the Cobbett of YouTube. As immediately readable and engrossing as a Rogers film.”

After the 2012 Olympics London once again entered a period of radical change, one that some people came to see as a battle for the very soul of one of the greatest cities in the world. John Rogers embarked on a series of journeys and encounters in a quest to understand what was going on.

In ‘Welcome to New London’ John Rogers invites us to join him on a captivating voyage through the ever-changing landscapes and communities of this iconic city. As a follow-up to ‘This Other London,’ ‘Welcome to New London’ continues Rogers’ exploration of the city from a unique perspective.

The story begins in 2013 as the Olympic village in Stratford transitioned to become a new permanent settlement, and the Stratford City plan became a reality. This excursion sparks an exploration of the Olympic Park and its surrounding areas, where a wave of development is reshaping the Lower Lea Valley.

The narrative seamlessly weaves through various facets of London’s transformation, from the Focus E15 Mothers’ occupation of homes on Carpenters Estate, a poignant symbol of the housing crisis, to the global attention garnered by campaigns like Save Soho and Save Tin Pan Alley. The book also chronicles the author’s involvement in efforts to help residents of the Sweets Way Estate and other housing campaigns, offering readers an intimate look at the human stories behind London’s changing landscape.

Intriguingly, the Rogers delves into the city’s ancient history following a chance conversation with a Pearly Punk King on the rooftop of the old Foyles building. This encounter takes him through Epping Forest to the prehistory of London in the Upper Lea Valley, unearthing Bronze Age burial mounds and their significance in understanding London’s historical roots and its enduring connection to its past.

Rogers embarks on a series of walks with acclaimed writer Iain Sinclair, providing a thought-provoking commentary on London’s future. And then somehow the United Nations sent him to Peckham to explore the concept of the ‘Open City,’ tying together the book’s themes and returning to the Olympic Park as a focal point.

“Welcome to New London” is not just a book about a city; it’s a vivid, personal account of a city in flux, where the author’s passion for exploration and his commitment to bearing witness to change converge. With its richly detailed chapters and thought-provoking commentary, this book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of one of the world’s greatest cities.

Please contact me via the contact form above for further info, events, interviews and any other enquiries.

Stumbling across a Lost River in the Lea Valley London

A sunny Bank Holiday walk from Blackhorse Lane Walthamstow beside the Banbury Reservoir then onto the Lea Navigation at the North Circular. We then follow the Lea through Enfield until we pick up the Mossops Creek near Brimsdown and cross Mossops Creek footbridge. The Mossops Creek was dug by gravel extraction company Mosses and Co in the 1890s, presumably to link their works with the Lea Navigation.

All day walk from Leytonstone to Ware along the Lea Valley 

Spending the day walking from my front door as far up the Lea Valley as my legs will carry me has become a bit of an annual tradition. I was over-the-moon that on this occasion, the Jubilee holiday, I was joined by my wonderful wife at Waltham Abbey for the section of the Lea as far as Broxbourne. I eventually flopped into my favourite walk’s end pub in Ware, The Waterside Inn.

The route went through Leyton, Walthamstow, Chingford, Sewardstone, Enfield, Waltham Abbey, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Rye House, Stanstead Abbots, and Ware. The video also features a clip of Iain Sinclair talking about his book London Orbital.

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

30 mile walk along the River Lea – Leytonstone to Hertford

Walk from Leytonstone along the River Lea to Hertford

This was an unexpected adventure. I’d been struggling with intense back pain since Saturday and by Monday evening could barely walk around Wanstead Flats. It looked as if my planned long walk up the Lea Valley would have to wait for at least a week. After a bad night’s sleep I awoke unusually early at 6.30am after only 4 hours fractured slumber, the pain forcing me out of bed. I couldn’t settle in a chair in the garden with a cup of tea so I decided to walk around the block. This actually felt better. So in that moment I decided to pack a bag and see how far I could walk – far better than trying to sit at home in pain.

My wife thought I was mad when I told her my plan, she’d seen the state I’d been in the night before. And to be honest I thought I might not get further than the few miles to Walthamstow. But better to be out in the sun. It was a glorious day.

River Lea

I’d walked from Leytonstone to Hertford in midwinter around 4 years ago, a walk that has always stayed with me. But that day I plotted the shortest route between the two points, walking along the ridge of the Lea Valley to Sewardstone, following the Lea Navigation to Broxbourne, then picking up the New River Path to Ware in the gloom. I then roadwalked in the dark from Ware to Hertford. A route that clocked in at 23 miles. With my expectations diminished by circumstances I thought it best to just stick to the River Lee Navigation and see how far I could get.

At Waltham Abbey – around 13 miles, I had to risk sitting down for a sandwich and found a bench by the lock enjoying the scene. All was well. I shifted on the bench and felt a jolt of pain up my back, then my left (bad) knee stiffened. Oh dear. Time to get on the move before the whole exercise was derailed.

River Lea

Enfield Power Station

I passed some fellas magnet fishing off a bridge a Broxbourne and stopped to speak to a few people who watch my videos. By the time I reached Dobbs Weir I was ready to venture inside a pub for the first time since the lockdown. The Fish and Eels is a pub I’ve seen many times on Lea and Stort walks and always vowed to return to – now was the perfect time. I settled on the terrace overlooking the river with a pint of London Pride and a bulldog puppy under the table playing with my shoelaces.

River Lea

The rest of the walk was a breeze, along my favourite stretches of the Lea, passing through Stanstead Abbots, Rye House and Ware. Rabbits hopped around in the meadows beside the riverbank near the point where Roman Ermine Street crosses the Lea. You can feel history humming beneath the ground. There are Bronze Age burial mounds dotted all along the high ridges above the river at this stage. A storied landscape.

New River

New River near Ware

Arriving in Hertford was a great moment – probably my favourite Lea Valley town. People were heading out through the streets to pubs and restaurants. I kept to the river until I realised I’d have to end the walk before it took me too far beyond the end of the trainline. It’d been over 31.7 miles to this point.

I made it back to the local for 10.20pm and celebrated with my wife with a pint of Camden Brewery ‘Back to the Pub’ American Pale Ale.


Get the Sacred River Lea t-shirt here

river lea t-shirt

First Walk of 2020 – Beyond King Harold’s Tomb at Waltham Abbey

It seemed apt somehow to start the decade with a visit to Waltham Abbey Church and the tomb of King Harold. The supposed burial place of the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, a notable site of medieval pilgrimage and sitting on the Greenwich Meridan. But these weren’t the things that brought me to Waltham Abbey on the 2nd January 2020.

Waltham Abbey

Waltham Abbey WW1 anti-aircraft gun emplacement

A ridge rising on the outskirts of Waltham Abbey had caught my eye on a number of walks, usually at the end just after sunset where it tempted me to climb its summit to catch the last of the light. Then a recent comment on my YouTube channel informed me of a site of interest near Kennel Wood, a First World War anti-aircraft emplacement, which just happened to be in the vicinity of the hill that had called me so many times. This is where I headed after paying homage at the Abbey and Harold’s tomb.


Watch the video above to see the hike into the hills above Waltham Abbey around Monkhams Hall.


Lea Valley Walk from Walthamstow to Waltham Abbey

This Lea Valley walk from Walthamstow to Waltham Abbey is surely one of my favourites. I’d finished leading a walk across the marshlands from Leyton Water Works to Walthamstow Wetlands and had the desire to push on into the evening. I headed up along Blackhorse Lane then turned into Folly Lane which opens up the postcard image of the ‘edgelands’ – you could bring coachloads of anthropologists and urban geographers up here to Harbet Road with it’s pylons and fields of fly-tipping, mountains of rubble and stacks of shipping containers.

Lea Valley Walk along River Lea Navigation

It’s a relief to drop beneath the North Circular onto the towpath of the Lea Navigation, and slowly chug along the waterway like a listing barge. You note the phases of change passing through the outer rings of the city – London Waste, Ponders End, Brimsdown Power Station, the confluence with the Turkey Brook, Enfield Dry Dock and Enfield Lock, then Rammey Marsh and the final release of passing beneath the M25 and into the beyond.


filmed on 28th July 2019