Iain Sinclair on Walking

This clip was taken from my walk with Iain Sinclair and Stephen McNeilly tracing the footsteps of the Swedish visionary Emanuel Swedenborg through London. Iain beautifully nails what the act of walking does to you:
“What John does with his walks is that essentially he’s adding new layers to himself by adsorbing these pieces of London. You go into them free-flowingly and the camera is the magical instrument of the moment that can help you to do this but as you do it there are things coming at you that you can’t predict, that you don’t know, the journey becomes something else, you become richer and richer each time you do it.”

Exploring the area around Lincoln’s Inn Fields

This video picks up from my walk along Fleet Street at Christmas (video that has now chalked up over 550,000 views somehow). I wanted to cover the north side of Fleet Street starting from Lincoln’s Inn Fields then Carey Street, Bell Yard, Star Yard and into Chancery Lane. I visited the London Silver Vaults, prompted by the most recent Ben Aaronovitch book, False Value, and also took in King’s College Maughan Library. Returning to Fleet Street we pass the Daily Telegraph Building, Daily Express Building, and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese before heading along Shoe Lane. Our walking tour ends at Dr John’s House in Gough Square, which many people simply couldn’t believe I’d missed out of my original Fleet Street video after visiting his statue at St Clement Danes.

2021 – A Year of Great Walks

It barely needs to be stated that 2021 was another strange year – let’s leave that aspect there. But it was another great year of walks for me personally – a year that has seen my YouTube channel grow to over 40,000 subscribers (something I thought would never happen).

Winter walks

Back in January I finally made a video of my walk through London’s Little Italy that I started documenting and researching nearly 20 years ago when I lived at the Angel and formed part of a chapter in my book This Other London (which was re-printed in paperback again this year finding new readers). Then came a series of walks tracing and uncovering local lost rivers – The Alders Brook (more overlooked and neglected than lost), the Walthamstow branch of the Philley Brook (Fillebrook) which was one of my highlights of the year, and the Higham Hill Brook.

Continuing the riverine theme, it was fantastic to walk along the West bank of the River Roding with the brilliant Paul Powlesland, from Ilford to the new Barking moorings that Paul and the River Roding Trust created. It was so heartening to see all the great work that the Friends of the River Roding have done cleaning and clearing that bank of the river, restoring an ancient footpath along the riverbank.

Paul Powlesland
Paul Powlesland & Jenny at the end of their epic River Roding walk
River Lea Walk

Places of transition

As Spring slowly started to emerge I explored some of the changing areas of London around Hackney Wick, Stratford and Greenwich Peninsula. These are some of the themes I dig into in my next book which should be published in 2022. I also took a trip out to the western edge of London to visit the medieval village of Harmondsworth, which is threatened by the planned expansion of Heathrow airport.

Fascinating chats

It was a great pleasure to visit the fantastic Maud Milton in her studio at Trinity Buoy Wharf where she creates the wonderful mosiac roundels that can be found at some of the London Overgrond Stations. And mentioning the Overground reminds me of the walk I did with Iain Sinclair along the Thames estuary at Tilbury talking about his new book The Gold Machine. We also discussed this onstage over two nights at the essential Wanstead Tap where I’d also had the enormous honour of doing a sold-out three-night run of talks in May.

River Walks & Old Haunts

I did more river walks throughout the year – the lost rivers of The Peck and the Hackney Brook, the urban watercourses of The Rom, the Wandle (with the brilliant Prof Kate Spencer), the River Pinn, and the Dollis Brook. There were also walks exploring some of my old stomping grounds around Canonbury and Camden.

Out to the Sea

Some of my highlights were walks along estuaries out to the sea – first walking the final section of the Essex Way following the Stour out to Harwich, then drifting the final stretch of the Thames Estuary to the Wakering Stairs looking out along the treacherous Broomway at sunset. On the final weekend of October I managed to get out to Orford Ness coming back on the last boat til Spring 2022. What an experience that was.

The Broomway at Wakering Stairs

Group Walks

2021 was also a year of group walks – always a great experience for me. Firstly it was some Leytonstone Town Centre strolls in the summer for Waltham Forest Council. I also created a series of audio guided walks around notable cemeteries for a wonderful organisation called Advantages of Age and then we met up for a group walk around Nunhead and Camberwell Cemeteries.


Another personal highlight was going down to St. Leonards-on-Sea to spend the day with visionary filmmaker Andrew Kötting and ending our jaunt around the town with a trip to the place where his seminal travelogue Gallivant began (the film that inspired me to start making films).

City stories

In the dark midwinter days I’ve found great comfort revisiting some of the locations that I started exploring and researching in the early days of this blog, recording wanders around the territory of Bunhill Fields, St Luke’s and City Road, and then a couple of days before Christmas, linking together a series of resonant points around Fleet Street.

I’m a little taken aback, to be honest, when I look back over these journeys across the year as a whole, and it makes me excited about the year ahead.

Q&A Video: The most Remote part of London and Other Questions Answered

Last weekend I sat down in the London Olympic Park and delved into a long list of brilliant questions submitted via the Community tab on my YouTube channel and Instagram Stories.

Here’s a list of the questions with the timestamps in case you’d like to navigate to a particular part of what became an epic video:

Contents of this video
0:00​ Intro Stratford Olympic Park
01:32​ Grotty Fringe of the Olympic Park
02:21​ Will you do more South London walks?
02:49​ Most memorable bit of folklore
04:24​ Which era of London would you most like to walk around
06:19​ Do you get scared walking on your own
06:47​ If you could say one thing to planners and architects what would it be
08:21​ If you needed your ashes scattered in London where would it be
09:28​ Favourite pre-Roman or prehistoric site in London
10:14​ Particular walking book you would like to see reprinted
10:38​ Is there a river flowing from Hampstead Heath through Belsize Park
11:05​ Do you listen to music on your walks
11:22​ Where have you felt the most remote
12:00​ What’s your longest walk
12:42​ How I started my walks
13:56​ Would you consider walking further afield such as the Thames Estuary around Tilbury and Gravesend
15:02​ Where are the women psychogeographers
19:01​ Favourite discovery on a walk
20:07​ Who was Jack the Ripper?
23:23​ Will we ever know more about Boudicca?
24:39​ What is your professional background or upbringing
26:07​ Growing up in the Chilterns
26:52​ Austin Osman Spare walk
27:42​ First Job and have you been unemployed for a long period of time
29:38​ What got you into psychogeography
32:05​ Psychogeography outside London
34:26​ Best thing you found on your travels
35:02​ When will you do a walk through Temple
35:35​ Radical Rambler Cap?
36:00​ Will the Leytonstone Centre for Contemporary Art make a comeback?
36:20​ Would you another City e.g Bristol
37:30​ Favourite Author, Novel, Ale
38:29​ Views on some modern architecture
39:10​ Will you do a Southend walk to the Anglo Saxon burial site at Prittlewell
39:20​Thames Bridges walk
40:02​ How does your wife feel about your long walks
41:21​ Strangest encounter on a walk
43:44​ If you could walk anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
45:20​ Kray Twins walk?
46:22​ Most disappointing walk
47:34​ Will you get a haircut after the restrictions are lifted
47:40​ Will you write another book?
48:31​ Any trouble or threatened on a walk?
50:15​ Inspiration to start and film these walks
53:10​ Thank you for your questions

Related links and videos:
South London Walks
The Legend of Horsenden Hill
Remapping High Wycombe
My Longest Walk
Thames Estuary Tilbury Walk
Dr Tina Richardson – psychogeographer
Rachel Lichtenstein
Laura Oldfield Ford
Janet Cardiff The Missing Voice
Austin Osman Spare Strange Attractor Press
Leytonstone Centre for Contemporary Art

The South Bucks Way – Chalfont St Peter to Great Missenden

I first stumbled upon The South Bucks Way in the summer of 2018 when embarking on an unplanned walk heading west out of London. Taking a rest on a bench in Chalfont St Peter, I saw the path arcing along the course of the River Misbourne to Amersham and beyond higher into the Chiltern Hills. Munching on my chips that day I vowed to return and continue my walk along this beguiling trail.

The South Bucks Way runs for 23 miles from Coombe Hill, Wendover to the Grand Union Canal at Denham. I set myself the modest target of reaching Amersham with anywhere beyond that a bonus. Catching the train from London Marylebone to Gerrards Cross I walked the short distance to Chalfont St Peter to pick up my trail from two years previous.

South Bucks Way

It was a beautiful late summer afternoon. Groups of walkers discharged from footpaths onto the streets around Chalfont St. Giles Church. Couples set off into the hills along the paths that spread out from the town that was once dubbed the ‘Gateway to the Chilterns’.

With my expectations of distance low, I was able to enjoy being back out in the Chilterns for the first time since we’d laid my mother to rest in Wooburn Cemetery back in January. Those hills had been calling me all throughout the lockdown and it was pure therapy to be back walking through the shade of beech trees and passing brick and flint cottages and churches.



2019 – A Great Year of Walking

A review of my walks in 2019 on my YouTube channel – a fantastic year of hiking.

From river walks along the Tyburn, Roding, Thames, Philley Brook, Ching, Dagenham Brook, Hogsmill, Crouch, and Lea to the woodlands of Epping Forest and the wide open spaces of Wimbledon Common and Wanstead Park. The London Loop featured large as I covered the sections from Moor Park to Ewell. I walked the first stage of the Essex Way from Epping to Ongar. I strolled the East London streets of Old East and West Ham, the beautiful porticos in Modena, Italy. And every step of the way you were there – Thank you so much for joining an amazing year of walking in 2019.

There’s more to come in 2020!


Music used in this video: Fern by ann annie / Fresh Fallen Snow by Chris Haugen / Tupelo Train by Chris Haugen / Pachabelly by Huma-Huma / Ambiment – The Ambient by Kevin MacLeod / Nevada City by Huma-Huma / Breathing Planet by Doug Maxwell / Little Drunk, Quiet Floats by Puddle of Infinity / Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Liszt

The Essex Way – Epping to Ongar

A September walk along the Essex Way from Epping to Ongar taking in Toot Hill and Greensted.

The Essex Way is an 82-mile long distance path from Epping to Harwich that I’ve been planning to walk for a few years now, but never quite made the time to do it. So one Sunday in mid-September I decided to walk a section from Epping to Ongar taking in beautiful countryside on the very edge of London where the Central Line trains used to scuttle through the fields until 1994.