I went for a cycle around the perimeter of the Olympic Park on Saturday. The route is around 11km, and although it’s outside the park itself, there’s still plenty to see – particularly as the Greenway (also to be known soon as Victoria Walk) crosses through the site, and the Stratford City retail complex protrudes someway into it. I’ve already done the circuit twice in 2011 and also been on two bus tours inside the park, in 2010 and 2011. You can see my complete collection of Olympic Park photos on Flickr.
My route was along the Greenway, then along Stratford High Street, around Stratford City, then through Leyton and along Ruckholt Road to Hackney Marshes, finishing by returning down the canal to Hackney Wick, Fish Island and Old Ford. The last first and last sections are the most scenic – mainly because they don’t involve cycling along roads, so the natural state of the park and surrounding area is more evident.
The main changes were the appearance of a tunnel across the Greenway, linking the warm-up tracks to the stadium, lighting towers on the former, and much wider Greenway (with the security fencing moved back) and the complete, and surprisingly ugly, Olympic Village – maybe I just got it in a bad light. Crossrail also makes an appearance – the Pudding Mill Lane tunnel portal work has started. The blue Olympic hoarding in the area has been replaced by a slightly darker blue, with the Crossrail logo on it. With ongoing Olympic works on the other side, the narrow passageway looks like it will be there for a while yet.
There was also a lot more security fencing than I remember before in the north and east of the zone, with 16-foot high fencing, topped with a 4-foot electric fence, CCTV cameras and microwave detectors, protecting empty coach parks and concrete podiums away from the main park. I can understand it for the central area but it seemed a bit over the top for these areas which are generally unconnected to the main park.
Most excitingly was the appearance of two new slender footbridges, both of identical design, spanning the canal. These will “open up” the park in legacy mode (i.e. from late 2013 onwards) to the residents of Hackney Wick. One links to the Copper Box (formerly known as the Handball Arena) and the other is beside the Omega Works housing development and links to the area north of the main stadium. I’ve added both bridges on to OpenStreetMap, where they are currently showing as dotted pink blobs, i.e. under construction.
My favourite find was this furry graffiti monster, below, on a warehouse in Hackney Wick, overlooking the canal and sticking its tongue out at the Olympic Park. I think it’s been there for a while (and has been since “adorned” with other graffiti) but I hadn’t spotted it before now.
You can see all the photos in my Flickr album.