Stage 5 Trafalgar Square to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 12.1 miles
This stage begins with some road walking to pass through Covent Garden to reach the Regents Canal at Kings Cross. There is then an attractive walk along the Regents Canal to Victoria Park. There is a chance to explore some of the highlights of Victoria Park before the route enters the Olympic Park. A circuit has been produced to show how the Olympic Park has been transformed to provide a lasting legacy. This stage will finish at the Aquatics Centre.
To reach Trafalgar Square, travel to Embankment (tube) or Charing Cross (tube or overground).
Leave Trafalgar Square between disused one man police station and statue of Sir Henry Havelock on south east corner of square. Cross traffic lights to go along the left hand side of The Strand. Continue past the Victorian replica of Eleanor Cross in front of Charing Cross station. Turn left into Bedford Street and then right into Henrietta Street. Turn left into Covent Garden. Street entertainers perform on wide concourse ahead. Turn right into main part of Covent Garden to right of Punch and Judy pub with its speciality shops. On leaving Covent Garden the London Transport Museum can be seen on your right. Proceed along left hand side of Russell Street passing Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on right and Fortune Theatre on left (0.8 miles).
Turn left along Drury Lane, passing the grand, white Freemason’s Hall on the right, before crossing High Holborn. Go ahead along Museum Street, crossing New Oxford Street, eventually reaching the British Museum. Turn right along Russell Street to pass front entrance of museum. Turn left along right hand side of Montague Street. Cross at traffic lights and walk diagonally through Russell Square Gardens, passing cafe on right. Cross road at traffic lights, towards the ornate Hotel Russell, and continue along Bernard Street (to left of Hotel Russell). Pass Russell Street tube on right and continue straight on to Brunswick Square, ignoring steps on left into the Brunswick shopping centre. Turn left and just past the end of the Brunswick centre, turn right into Handel Street and continue through St Georges Gardens. At end of gardens continue along Heathcote Street to reach Grays Inn Road (2 miles).
Turn left and turn left again into Cromer Street. Just past shops turn right along left hand side of Whidborne Street. After the road swings right, turn left along Argyll Street admiring the impressive facade of the St. Pancras Hotel. Cross Euston Road and turn right to reach Kings Cross Station. Turn left to follow around left side of station (St Pancras Station on other side of road) to eventually reach Kings Cross Underground. Go ahead along a wide walkway (following occasionally sign to Canal Museum), eventually crossing bridge over Regents Canal (University of the Arts ahead). Turn left and go down steps on left. Turn left along Regents Canal (3 miles).
Continue along canal for ½ mile passing signpost to Canal Museum (5 mins). Canal goes through Islington Tunnel, where there is no towpath. Instead turn up steps on left to Muriel Street. Cross road turn right and almost immediately go through gate on left by Jubilee Greenway sign. Go ahead eventually continuing along Maygood Road. Cross Barnsbury Road and Turn right. Turn left into Chapel Lane Market. At end of market turn right to cross road at traffic lights to reach Angel Tube Station. Turn left and then turn right along Duncan Street. At end cross road and rejoin Regents Canal (4.1 miles).
Go along very attractive stretch of canal for 2.4 miles passing several locks and basins. Turn left to enter Victoria Park (6.5 miles).
Turn right and continue parallel to canal to go past gate guarded by “The Dogs of Alciblades”. Go ahead and cross colourful bridge on left over lake to Pagoda Island and visit pagoda on right. Continue over a wooden bridge and follow around lake towards a café (good quality) and toilets. Before cafe turn left and exit through Jubilee Gate West, next to a small brick building. Cross Grove Road and re-enter Victoria Park through Jubilee Gate East (7.1 miles).
Go ahead on path and turn left at junction. When convenient turn left to bandstand and continue to Burdett-Coutts fountain. Take path opposite chubby cherub holding jug on shoulder and head towards lake and dog statue. Turn right at lake. Ignore path on left and continue to junction. Proceed to the Park Café (reasonably priced and to the left there is a small visitor centre with good toilets). Take path on left and follow to left of children’s playground. Take first left to road and turn right. Continue along road and take second path on right to enter Old English Gardens on left (7.8 miles).
Go to main water feature at centre of garden, turn left and at smaller water feature turn right to pass Overland Children’s Centre. Turn left at model boating lake. Take next path on left and at junction turn left. At road turn right to leave Victoria Park at St Marks Gate (Orbit Tower visible) (8.2 miles).
(Instead of immediately turning right at road, the path on half right may be taken to visit a couple of alcoves from the London Bridge which was demolished in 1811 then return to road). On reaching junction cross road and turn right. Go past canal on left and then go under bridge and continue along Wick Lane. Turn left along Greenway, cross River Lea Bridge, and proceed to Viewtube and café passing future Pudding Lane development on left (8.6 miles).
Take path on left just before Viewtube. Cross road with care at zebra crossing and turn right. Turn left down steps just after bridge and turn right to walk along river. Turn up steps on right just before next bridge and turn left to use footpath to left of Orbit Tower passing Olympic Stadium on left (now converted for the use of West Ham United with stadium store and café). Pass fountains and turn right to reach Aquatics Centre. The Aquatics Centre contains a café, however, photographs are not permitted while children are swimming in either pool (9.4 miles).
From Aquatics Centre recross bridge across canal and turn right along Tessa Jowell Boulevard (named after the Sports Minister who ignored civil service advice and gave the go ahead for the Olympics). Continue over crossing canal and then take right fork downhill to reach road.
Cross at pedestrian crossing and take steps on right onto bridge. Cross bridge and take steps on right down to tow-path. Go ahead under next 3 bridges and pass benches and green area on left (these are a legacy of Park Live during the Olympics where there was a large screen in the middle of the canal). Go up steps on left just before bridge and cross bridge passing the Olympic Rings on the right to reach the Alfred Gate. The Velodrome can be seen directly ahead. This is affectionately known as the Pringle.
Go up first set of steps of the Velodrome to a platform and do a complete clockwise circuit. The first building to be seen from the platform is the former Olympic Media Centre which is being incorporated into the East Wick development. Next comes the bridge leading to the Lea Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. This is not on the route but may be worth a visit. As well as the tennis courts and hockey pitches (all in a distinctive dark blue) there is a mountain bike course and memorials to the site's historic use as home to the Eton Manor Boy's Club. Following the Hockey and Tennis centre there is a one mile cycling road circuit along with its entrance hub. The Olympic BMX course is next with its bumps reduced to make them safer, followed by further mountain bike courses which can be seen in the distance. Also accessible from the platform is the Velodrome’s café. Visitors are welcome to enter the Velodrome at this point to watch the cycling training sessions (10.6 miles).
Descend original set of steps and turn right to return to Alfred Gate. Just before gate turn left to pass Tumbling Bay Children’s Playground. On the right can be glanced a view of London’s skyline which now contains newly iconic buildings the Shard, the Cheesegrater, the Walkie-Talkie and the Gherkin. Continue passing the Timber Lodge Café (toilets) to reach notice board explaining the importance of the Waterglades. Go down steps and turn left at first junction. Take left fork at next junction and just before Olympic Village (now East Village) stay inside park and turn right to pass ponds on right. At end of path turn right to pass between ponds. Take first path on left and pass steps on right to take first path on right between imitation telephone boxes. Continue under bridge to reach benches on right. Turn right to ascend steps up to bridge. Cross bridge. The Paralympic Symbols can be seen on the grass on the other side of the bridge. These are called Agitos (“I move” in Latin) and contain the 3 colours most commonly used on national flags.
Turn left. The Copper Box can be seen on your right with its distinctive “RUN” sculpture. Cross road at traffic lights and head towards Olympic Stadium to reach Mandeville Place which celebrates the Paralympics. Continue to take left fork to pass children’s playgrounds on left. The stage ends in front of the bridge leading to the Aquatics Centre (12.1 miles).
To reach Stratford Station cross bridge and at traffic lights cross road and turn right to turn left along The Street. Alternatively go through Westfield Shopping Centre. Take a right turn to Stratford Station within Westfield (well signposted). There are plenty of places to eat in The Street or in Westfield.