Is there scope for yet another new book on the topic? Yes; resoundingly yes, because the latest guide to these Stygian waterways comes from the pen and paintbox of David Fathers.
Fathers — an occasional Londonist contributor — has a mighty talent for combining London trivia with delightful illustrations. We marvelled at his previous books on the Thames and Regent's Canal. This book completes an aquatic trilogy that is so accomplished, we half expect to see a cover endorsement from Old Father Thames himself.
Fathers focuses on the 'hidden' rivers — that is to say those waterways that are mostly buried underground, usually as sewers. There are 12 herein, from the Stamford Brook in the west to the Hackney Brook in the east.
Each river is mapped in some detail, allowing the walker to follow closely, looking for clues: here a sloping side-road, there a gushing drain. The real joys are the little puddles of trivia that accompany each walk. Who knew that Lenin often frequented a fish and chip shop in the River Fleet valley? Or that Van Gogh fell in love on the banks of the Effra?
This is a book that will surprise and delight even those who think they already know the hidden rivers of London. For those who don't, you won't find a more charming introduction.
London’s Hidden Rivers: a walker's guide to the subterranean waterways of London by David Fathers is published by Frances Lincoln, £9.99. Available here