The Londonist Olympic Walk: 20 People, 20 Miles & 27 Degrees

Conceived in the latter legs of the Patterson Walk three and a bit years ago, the Londonist Olympic Walk finally took place this weekend.

Having been amazed that so many people had expressed interest in joining this west to east pilgrimage through the sites of London’s three Olympic stadia, we were truly gobsmacked when twenty keen walkers turned up at White City tube at 9am on a gloriously summery Sunday, all ready to ramble.

And it was a truly epic ramble. What was roughly sketched as a reasonable 20km walk spiralled into a 20 miler, partly because the Greenway is closed ahead of the Olympics and partly because we so weren’t expecting people to actually turn up we didn’t properly route plan.

Fortunately, our group were enthusiastic, interested, chatty and high spirited from the start – only flagging into heat exhausted silence temporarily, come late afternoon in the shade of Victoria Park as several of us mulled over the best vs shortest route to Stratford. We certainly didn’t take the shortest.

Amazingly, everyone made it to Stratford with most managing all the way to EastWestfield just in time to look out of the 2012 shop Park-side window and pose for a team photo before John Lewis shut for the day. Six of us then got a very privileged tour of a near deserted Olympic Park – check out McTumshie’s panorama here.

Included in this gallery are the most Olympicky photos telling the story of our walk but there are lots more wonderful photos of our adventure in the walk Flickrpool – particularly some great shots from the Olympic Park itself.

Here’s how it went in words:

From White City tube we walked the short distance to BBC Media Centre where the Olympic flag was flying. The complex stands on the site of the White City stadium where the 1908 Olympics were held and where the 1948 Olympic football took place. The finish line of the marathon is marked in the ground and our only regret is we missed the opportunity to get a reenactment shot of someone being carried over the line as security came out and asked us to stop taking photos.

Then onto Wembley Stadium via Wormwood Scrubs (forager central, apparently), Harlesden and Stonebridge. Wembley was the home of the 1948 Olympics – the ‘make do and mend’ postwar Games. The medal tablets have been preserved at the Olympic Way entrance to the Stadium and there’s a nice wee display about the Games around them. Down Olympic Way towards Wembley Park tube we found the Olympic flame and flag in tiles. Wembley Arena will host London 2012 Rhythmic Gymnastics and Badminton events, whilst the Stadium will host Olympic football matches.

Then some Jubilee Line based cheating to get us to St John’s Wood. This is where the group really started getting friendly, as Ben N pulled out his mint infused rum and persuaded everyone to try it. That got us in the mood to stop at the Duke of York pub for a midday refresher and more group bonding.

Then on to Lord’s, where Archery will be competed this summer, and on to the Regent’s Canal by Regent’s Park. At Camden Lock we stopped off for a quick lunch break and another pint (for rehydration purposes) before resuming our canal walk.

This was a long stretch, broken only by the necessary surfacing for Islington Tunnel. Ben N found some free Champagne, the photographers snapped away at graffiti, canal boats, small boys jumping in the water, rubbish, the Bluegrass band at Broadway Market and the Book Barge but all in all it was a hot slog along the towpath with frequent bike dodging and not much of Olympic interest.

Victoria Park – an Olympic Live Site – brought welcome shade, rest and indecision with several different ideas of how to complete the walk. Ultimately, we skirted the bottom of the Park along the River Lee, with a grand view of the Stadium to our left then persevered up Stratford High Street, ducking into the back entrance to Westfield, round the corner to John Lewis and up the escalators to the London 2012 shop and viewing window for an eyeful of our nearly completed Olympic Park.

Huge thanks to the two Andrews, John, Ben N, Ben T, Pete, Ionut, Naomi, Keith, Megan, Maurits, Roger, Graeme, Edit, Danielle, Reuben, Aditya, Jonny and his friends for their excellent company on the walk. If I’ve missed anything or misrepresented events at all, please leave a comment!

And thank you to Craig for arranging the Olympic Park tour.

Never fear, ideas for future epic ambles are already on the simmer.

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Article by Lindsey Clarke | 3,237 Articles | View Profile