After eating breakfast in our hotel the Ibis Styles located in the Docklands we took the DLR the short distance to Stratford to visit Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which was the venue for the Summer 2012 Olympic Games.
On leaving the station we took the escalator up to ‘The Street’ which is an outdoor part of Westfield Stratford City, one of Europe’s largest urban shopping centres located next to the park. Following the path we glanced in several of the shops before turning right at Fountain Square, this walkway taking us to the entrance of the park.
Walking towards the London Stadium, we crossed one of the bridges over the loop of waterways surrounding the park which are now open for public navigation and pleasure boat trips. The 6 kilometres of rivers in the park were once a key transport network for the industries that lined the river. A decline in canal freight combined with a build up of silt resulted in the rivers becoming unnavigable and derelict until restoration work took place as part of the preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Built to host London 2012, the former Olympic Stadium was modified and renamed London Stadium and is now jointly used by West Ham United Football Club, U.K. Athletics, World Rugby League and as a concert venue. It seats 57,000 for football matches and up to 80,000 for concerts and has the longest cantilevered roof in the world. Stadium tours are available and details can be found here.
Directly opposite the London Stadium stands the London Aquatics Centre which was used for swimming, diving and synchronised swimming events for the London Olympics. After modifications it opened to the public in May 2014 and has two 50 metre pools plus a 25 metre diving pool with boards at differing heights.
Before leaving the park we took a look at the ArcelorMittalOrbit which is sited between the stadium and aquatics centre and is a permanent lasting legacy to London 2012. The name ArcelorMittal combines the name of the Mittal company who were chief sponsors, with Orbit, the original working title of the project. The art installation which combines sculpture with structural engineering has divided opinion being both praised and criticised for its radical design. It is the U.K.’s tallest public artwork and has two viewing platforms on its observation deck. In June 2016 ‘The Slide’ opened measuring 178 metres which is the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide with riders hitting speeds of up to 15 miles per hour – its definitely not for me but has proved extremely popular for thrill seekers wanting an exhilarating experience.
After enjoying our visit to the park we strolled back across the bridge into the Westfield shopping centre, stopping off for tea and cakes in the John Lewis department store before making our way back across London for our train home from Kings Cross Station.
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