Olympic Park, Hackney Wick and Fish Island walk

The Olympic Park, waterways, wetlands, and former industrial areas

On one's bike

On one's bike

12-Aug-21 • Jerry Attricht on Flickr

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Arcelor squiggle

Arcelor squiggle

12-Aug-21 • Jerry Attricht on Flickr

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The Lord Napier renaissance

The Lord Napier


12-Aug-21 • Jerry Attricht on Flickr

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Start and Finish Stratford Main Line Rail/DLR/Overground/Underground station.

8.5 km/5.3 mi or 9.3 km/5.8 mi

Time 2 ¼ hours or 2 ½ hours

Stratford Station is served by Main Line Services from Liverpool Street, by the DLR and by the Central and Jubilee Lines, and is also a terminus for the Overground to Richmond via Highbury & Islington.

Walk Notes

This walk follows a meandering route through Stratford City, a development preceding the idea of London applying to hold the Olympic Games, and including the very large Westfield Shopping Centre, as well as through the neighbouring Olympic Park and past its surviving Olympic venues, one of the largest urban parks created in Western Europe for more than 150 years, and designed to enrich and preserve the local environment, by restoring wetland habitats and planting native species of plants along the River Lea and the Bow Backwaters. It is still a work in progress, in its continued transition from sports venue to public park, with many new neighbourhoods and amenities added since the 2012 Games.
This is combined with a detour through parts of the adjacent former industrial areas now famous for artists’ spaces and independent micro-businesses, but undergoing speedy regeneration: Hackney Wick (South) and Fish Island. These areas are still noticeably shaped by their former mix of (often polluting) industries in this complicated space, dominated by railways, canals, locks, river arms, channels, flood plains.

In the park itself there are lots of changes of level to introduce the many diverse areas: in the South Park the feel is quite urban, as you are surrounded by sport events’ structures, lots of trees and wide promenades, all landscaped to look quite formal, almost Continental; while the North Park is wilder, landscaped to look – within the limits of the site – like an English Country Park, including some wetlands, meadows, ponds and flood plains, all designed to create a haven for plants and wildlife. Generally, plantings are deliberately left semi-wild/informal for cost and aesthetic reasons.
In total there are 6.5 km of waterways in the park, most of which are walked along or crossed at least once. This is also the first Olympic Park to integrate artworks into the landscape right from the start, and the route passes some of the 26 permanent ones.
The stretch through Hackney Wick and Fish Island exposes the contrast of corporate and alternative visions of how the area should develop. Hackney Wick, where plastics were invented, the term petrol was coined, dry cleaning was introduced to Britain, all due to the vicinity of efficient waterways and railways, where the former high rise Trowbridge Estate has long been blown up to make way for the current crop of artists and independent businesses, who are a world apart from the original indigenous population and Fish Island, where more of the former industrial premises have already been transformed to apartment buildings.

Walk Options

For shorter walk, start from Stratford International Mainline or DLR Stations, passed after 750m.
For a much shorter walk, Hackney Wick Overground Station is passed after 5.5 km/3.4 mi.
For a southerly extension follow the Greenway on top the Northern Outfall Sewer.

Eat and Drink

Plenty of options en route, for details please check the pdf.

Help Us!

After the walk, we would love to get your feedback

You can upload photos to the SWC Group on Flickr (upload your photos) and videos to Youtube. This walk's tags are:

By Car

Start E15 1DE Map Directions

Finish E15 1DE Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Mar-20 Thomas G

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Walk Directions  

Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk