There's a river in Covent Garden. You probably never noticed. It trickles along St Martin's Lane and runs a ring around Seven Dials. You may have ridden trains along the tamed Counter's Creek in west London. Rival watercourses — the Hackney Brook and the Moselle — touch Arsenal and White Hart Lane stations. Who knew any of this?
Answer: Tom Bolton. Having impressed us eight years ago with his walker's guide to London's Lost Rivers, he's back for a second volume, pushing out the boat to places you can no longer push out a boat.
Where the first book tracked down well-celebrated, but now buried rivers like the Fleet, Tyburn and Wandle, this sequel paddles in more recondite waters. Even Loster Rivers of London, you might call it.
Nine walks cover the Black Ditch, Bollo Brook, Cock & Pye Ditch, Counter's Creek, Falcon Brook, Hackney Brook, Moselle and Stamford Brook (in two parts). If you've heard of all those, then you're probably in some kind of arcane urban-dowsing club.
In recent years, London's lost rivers have risen in torrent, the subject of numerous books, novels, articles, videos, a massive bit of public art, and even a major exhibition. It's a flooded market. But Tom carves out his own channel with some proper hardcore research and a wealth of detail, all beautifully written up into walking routes. He'll have you looking for dips in the road, listening at drain covers and analysing street names in search of buried water.
The first volume has also been revised and updated to coincide with publication. Both contain hand-drawn route maps and a series of arresting photographs from SF Said. Go with the flow, and order the pair.