Exploring the Lea

It always amazes me that, no matter how far you’ve already been, there will always be more London to explore. A couple of days ago I noticed the River Lea on a map and became curious. There’s a big powerboat event on in the docks this weekend which I went to take a look at yesterday, but apart from the occasional visit to the Excel Exhibition Centre, I haven’t seen much of the part of London between the Olympic Park and the Thames. Looking at the map, the Lea snakes it’s way from it’s mouth just across the Thames from the O2 to Stratford. I reckoned a path along it’s bank might be very pretty, or worth exploring at least.

I had seen a path marked on google maps, so, hoping it was fairly wheelchair accessible, I caught the bus to North Greenwich then crossed the Thames via cablecar. I then went looking for the mouth of the Lea. What struck me most about that area was it’s age: it’s still heavily industrial, so it contrasted very strongly with the sleek, modern buildings around it. Dockers and workmen still go about there business there, the same as they have done for hundreds of years. This was the real east end.

I found it fascinating. Coming upon the Lea (or Bow Creek) near where it joined the Thames, I had to navigate the maze of factories and warehouses on either side of the river. The path I had seen on the map proved elusive. It wasn’t until Bromley By Bow that I got a glimpse of the river proper with the path running by it, but that was down some steps so I could not join it. What I saw, however, reminded me instantly of the canal paths of Cheshire, with narrowboats and old jacobean buildings. It instantly made me want to explore some more: the metropolis seems a place of endless variety, and here was another unique, fascinating area.

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