2 miles (3.2km)
This section is alongside Hackney Marsh before reaching the main 2012 Olympic site. The towpath still has a rural open feel thanks to Hackney Marsh and it is only after Marshgate Bridge that the route begins to feel enclosed. But here allotments, giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, workshops, stores and London’s oldest salmon smokery are giving way to the Olympic Park.
“Go and see the area now so that you can compare it later,” said Mayor London Ken Livingstone in Singapore in 2005 on the day when London won its bid to stage the 2012 Olympic Games.The Olympic Park is 1,500 acres costing £2,010m with the Olympic Village consisting of 3,600 houses to be built in the north-west corner and the £560m Olympic Stadium to the south at Old Ford. The £50m Aquatics Centre, designed by Zaha Hadid, is being erected in the south-east corner.
Alongside the towpath there will be five sports arenas, warm-up athletics tracks and the press centre. Flowing through the park is the Old River Lea and the Bow Back Rivers. It is hoped that a cleaner river will encourage the return of otters now found only in the upper reaches since London water became polluted in the mid-20th century. The first task, after relocating 275 businesses or institutions, is to bury the overhead power cables in two tunnels. Meanwhile, one of the largest ever archaeological projects is already based here ahead of building. Following the 2012 Games two of the riverside arenas will be dismantled and reassembled in other parts of the country. The legacy here should be 9,100 homes in a wildlife parkland alongside the River Lea
Lea Bridge: The Princess of Wales. Open all day.
Fish Island: The Counter Cafe, 7 Roach Road, E3 2PA. 7.30am (weekend 9am) -5pm.
The Greenway (Olympic Park): Container Cafe. 9am-5pm.
Bow: McDonald’s. Open all day.
Lea Bridge: National Rail to Clapton Station.Three Mills: Underground (District Line) from Bromley-by-Bow Station.
OS Explorer 174 (Epping Forest & Lee Valley) and 162 (Greenwich & Gravesend).