diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 08, 2015

Another blogging year means another pointless London-based quest is needed.

You probably have people to see at the weekend and/or organised stuff to do in your time off. And I sort-of do sometimes, but weekends are generally vast open spaces of possibility. Hence the need for a pointless but lengthy London-based quest to fill the gaps, to dip into as required, and then report back on.

Last year I rode some buses, or indeed quite a lot of buses, for rather more weekends than I care to count. The year before that I toured the Underground, seeking out interesting stuff on every line. In 2012 the Olympics sufficed, obviously, while in 2011 I walked the Capital Ring. 2010 saw me uncovering the Lost Rivers of London, in some depth, and in 2009 I worked my way through an A-Z of London museums.

So this year, what is there left around London to visit, explore and report back on? I didn't have a clue until New Year's Eve, when a genre I haven't yet fully exploited came to mind. So I ploughed into a search engine to undertake some research and, oh, there wasn't really much online at all. Rivers of London, that's my intended plan for 2015. But when you type 'London rivers' into Google, what comes up is a showreel of stuff about Lost Rivers, and very little else. Time was when London's Lost Rivers were an obscure sideline, an exotic delicacy, occasionally sought after but little understood. But these days they've become a lot more (cough) mainstream. Tour guides take parties down the Walbrook, the Mayor suggests uncovering the Fleet, and Counter's Creek is lined up as a multi-million pound sewer. I should have written a book on them, I could have mopped up.

But London has plenty of actual rivers, unburied and in many case unloved, gushing and trickling through the capital. There's the Thames, of course, which is the only proper river to run through the centre of the town. There's the Lea, London's second river, which I've already blogged in its entirety. And then there are the remainder, less well known, unless that is you happen to live close by. The Roding and the Brent are quite substantial, the Ingrebourne and the Pinn surprisingly long, and the Ravensbourne and Crane very much part of their local environment. On a lesser note, the Salmon's and Turkey Brooks are in part ridiculously rural, the Mayes and Pyl Brooks almost unknown, and if you know where the Bonesgate Stream is without peeking, ten points.

So first up, here's my attempt at cataloguing London's Unlost Rivers, approximately geographically.

Fray's River
Yeading Brook
The Roxbourne
Edgwarebury Brook
Deans Brook
Cuffley Brook
Turkey Brook
Merryhills Brook
River Lea
Salmon's Brook
The Ching
The Ravensbourne
Paine's Brook
River Roding
River Pinn
River Colne
Burnt Oak Brook
Wealdstone Brook
Silk Stream
Folly Brook
Dollis Brook
Mutton Brook
Pymmes Brook
River Moselle
Coppermill Stream
Dagenham Brook
River Rom/Beam River
Wantz Stream
Mayes Brook
Loxford Water
River CraneRiver BrentRiver ThamesBow Back RiversRiver Ingrebourne
Latchmere Stream
Beverley BrookRiver Wandle
River Graveney
River Ravensbourne
River Quaggy
Kyd Brook
River Darent
River Cray
Hogsmill River
Bonesgate Stream
Pyl BrookNorbury BrookRiver Pool
River Beck
Chaffinch Brook
River Shuttle
Wyncham Stream

I haven't included every last brook and minor tributary - this isn't an attempt to be exhaustive. But do let me know if I've stuck a river in manifestly the wrong place, or missed anywhere obvious, because I'd hate to have overlooked a proper river.

Please don't expect me to visit the whole lot this year. For are start there are too many, and in addition they're not all worth a look. Indeed some are merely culverts between the backs of houses, or brief flytipped connections rising in a marshy field. Only a few are actually walkable, with footpaths along their banks for most of the way, and they'll be the easiest to experience. Others I'll only be able to trace by walking down neighbouring streets, or stalking the edge of private land, so they might be a bit dull. But I will try to visit a lot of them, as they take my fancy, over the coming year.

And this is obviously a project better suited to the warmer months. That's specifically warmer and drier, because a riverside footpath can be a proper mudbath in the winter and occasionally impassable. But I will get out and walk some soon, indeed I've already got one under my belt. And then I'll chronicle them in some way on the blog, probably in the usual travelogue style, and then you can come back throughout the year and read all about them. But be warned - almost all of these rivers are in the lesser-known outer parts of town... the centre having long been concreted over, because that's where all the Lost Rivers are, and we've done all them before.

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