An occasional blog about walking in the edgelands of North East London and various other places

There is no comments capability on this blog, but you can send me an email at blog@holli.co.uk

‘Up the Roding’ home page

Mike Holliday’s Home Page


River Roding: Leg 9 - To the Source ...

River Roding: Leg 8 - The Roding Villages

Across to Two Tree Island

River Roding: Leg 7 - Through Fyfield

River Roding: Leg 6 - Upstream to Ongar

The Land Art of Theydon Bois

What Is It With All This Walking and Writing?

The Heights of Epping Forest

River Roding: Leg 5 - Out of London

River Roding: Leg 4 - Through the Leafy Suburbs

River Roding: Leg 3 - Ilford up to Woodford

The Lost Lido of Leytonstone

River Roding: Leg 2 - the Barking Barrage to Ilford

River Roding: Leg 1 - Thames to the Barking Barrage


Leg 2: From the Barking Barrage to Ilford

16 June 2015

The second leg of my walk up the River Roding started from the weir at Barking Barrage. My aim is to follow the course of the river as closely as practicable, and in theory this should have been a straightforward section since a purpose-built path proclaiming itself to be the “Riverside Walkway” proceeds from the road to the Barrage and from there up the side of the Roding. Unfortunately, it is completely blocked by sturdy fencing about 30 yards up from the weir, the result of a dispute between the landowners, Fresh Wharf Estates, and the residents of the houseboats moored on this section of the river. The fences were put up a year ago, blocking the residents’ access to their homes; they obtained a court injunction to regain access, but it seems that the fences remain.

Houseboats moored on the Roding

The fence blocking the ‘Riverside Walkway’

There was obviously no way along the river on the other bank, so I returned to the road and walked up it, parallel to the Roding, alongside some sort of commercial estate. I investigated the parking areas to see if they afforded any entry to the walkway, but found only sturdy fences and padlocked gates. As one point a crashed car sat by the side of the road in what seemed like an appropriate resting place:    

After a few hundred yards, a right turn took me to Barking High Bridge, a narrow roadway across the river. Rather curiously, the brick walls at the side of the bridge had signs saying “Flood Defence Wall - Do Not Remove” - as if someone might decide to make off with the wall in the middle of the night.

Barking High Bridge

From here I was able to walk along a paved pathway, with the river on my right side and a massive car park to my left. Seagulls flew overhead, screeching loudly. The occasional elderly man with plastic shopping bags sat on the benches, enjoying the mid-morning sun and a cigarette in what turned out to be the car park for Tesco supermarket. Ahead was London Road bridge, where the main road leaves Barking for central London.

London Road bridge

As I crossed the road, I noticed what appeared to be some form of neo-pagan monument … perhaps celebrating the gods of the local retail parks (it is actually the Lighted Lady of Barking, a public artwork by Joost van Santen).

On the other side of the road the river walkway continued until it reached a footbridge crossing from the East bank. A sign suggested that the River Roding Route for cyclists went off left between two large warehouses, but a surfaced path appeared to carry on alongside the river, so I followed it. Unfortunately it terminated in a concrete wall and a mass of impenetrable vegetation just yards short of the bridge carrying the C2C and London Underground train lines over the river.

No way through at the railway lines!

With the railway lines ahead, the river to my right, and the A406 behind a mass of bushes and brambles to my left, I had no option but to turn back towards the footbridge. I decided to follow the path between the warehouses and see if I could get back on the West bank of the Roding beyond the railway bridge. Another footbridge took me over the A406 - the North Circular - into a suburban street; opposite the houses, an enormous gas holder sat behind overgrown playing fields.

A solitary set of goalposts standing in what was once Leigh Road Sports Ground

The  North Circular - and the pylons - march on towards the retail parks and London City Airport

I followed the road and the signs for the cycle route around the playing field and under the rail lines.

Eventually, I found a way under the railway

Here the signs took the cyclists off into the streets of terraced housing of Little Ilford, but I turned the other way, back towards the A406. A promising road ended in a small industrial area containing Agridutt Mushroom Farm - but apparently no way under the North Circular. I was about to give up when I noticed a very overgrown path running along the outside of the fence towards the river. Walking along this, while holding my arms in the air in order to avoid the shoulder-high nettles, brought me to a tunnel under the A406 and then to a small riverside Thames Water installation. Fortunately a sketchy path led north and I followed it for half a mile or so alongside a wooden fence, with occasional views of the Roding through the bushes or over the reeds. However, this section of the river is tightly squeezed between the main road and built-up areas, and I did feel rather close to the traffic when the wooden fence occasionally disappeared. I was reminded of what my wife said when I mentioned that I saw nobody else during my walk from the Thames to Barking Barrage: “Of course not - no one normal would want to walk there!”

Uncomfortably close to the North Circular

Pioneer Point reaches into the sky beyond the Roding

Eventually, this path brought me out to the junction where the A406 meets the main road out of Ilford.

I did not want to risk walking up by the side of the sliproads, and an attempt to continue on alongside the river was quickly blocked by the bushes, so I slowly walked back and under the A406, emerging once again by the mushroom farm, and then a further mile through the streets of Little Ilford to East Ham tube station.

Fortunately, the next couple of legs of the walk will take me into more familiar areas, so I will be hoping to avoid any more route-finding difficulties. The next leg will start from Ilford and proceed through Wanstead Park and then on to Roding Valley Park; there will, however, be lots more flyovers and pylons …