For our inaugural walk we picked a good, long, local yomp that incorporated:
- one of London's finest public parks
- the 2012 Olympic site
- the sewage system of East London
- the Meridian line
- one of Joseph Bazalgette's elaborate, high Victorian municipal buildings
We walked around the southern edge of the park to Hackney Wick, where we weaved through a few residential streets and joined the Greenway.
On a dreary winter's day, the Greenway is emphatically not a green way.
A rather grim start to the Greenway at Hackney Wick
It got us off to a very uninspiring start after the pretty landscapes of Victoria Park, but we knew that in less than a mile would be the sight we had based this whole walk around. The new 2012 Olympic stadium at Stratford. And when we got there, we were not disappointed.
The main Olympic stadium, Stratford, East London
The footpaths around the Olympic village are starting to be marked out
The Greenway runs right alongside the Olympic stadium
A wet information board, in front of the stadium
Cranes and diggers everywhere. The building in the centre of the picture, with the yellow grandstands, is the Aquatic Centre
Diggers, lorries and bollards outside the Olympic stadium
Old Ford Lock, near Bow
We passed Old Ford Lock (former home of The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 - remember that?) and then discovered that we were crossing the Meridian Line, just a few miles north of its Greenwich home.
The Greenway is an elevated walkway, because it is actually built right on top of East London's sewage pipes! That sounds appalling, but for most of the time you forget - the pipes are buried deep underground, and you are too busy enjoying the contrasting views of modern Olympic buildings and beautiful old Victorian warehouses. But every now and then there are reminders of the municipal pipes under your feet.
And then south of Stratford, close to West Ham station and the Jubilee Line depots, we had our strongest reminder of what we were walking over. The incredibly beautiful and impressive Abbey Mills Pumping Station, and a strong accompanying stench of sewage from the modern water works that lie alongside.
Abbey Mills Pumping Station
The Abbey Mills Pumping Station was built by Joseph Bazalgette in the 1860s as part of his practical but ambitious solution to London's grim sewage problems (I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in finding out more about this most Victorian and intriguing of civil engineering projects). Today his pumping station is a rather unloved, but nevertheless listed, building, with a modern sewage works tucked in behind it (hence the smell). I would have loved to explore the building more closely but sadly it is hidden behind three layers of metal fencing. Gill and I had to stand on tiptoe and stretch as high as we could to take our photos!
Abbey Mills Pumping Station and multiple layers of fencing
And then we looked over the bridge to see the Channelsea Creek and the Abbey Creek - both part of the complicated Bow Back River network - gushing past underneath us.
Bow Back Rivers
The very unlovely Channelsea Creek emerging from the bridge
Winter-themed graffiti near Newham General Hospital
A DLR train pulling into Royal Albert station