November 8, 2021

Walking the Hertford Union Canal: where to stop and what to do along the River Lea

The River Lea flows through the heart of East London and is home to the Olympic Stadium, al fresco dining and kayaks for hire.

Hopping onto the canal at the Bow Roundabout, you can walk for 1km along the winding river, passing swans, people fishing and houseboats on your left. Each home is unique and full of character - my personal highlight are the ones which sell plants on their rooftops to passers by.

Make sure to keep an eye out for cyclists and runners - I've nearly fallen in a few times!

You will soon reach a footbridge where the river forks into two separate streams.

London Stadium

If you keep to the right and follow the canal around, you'll find yourself at the Olympic Stadium. Now known as the London Stadium and home to West Ham Football Club, you're able to walk around the outside of this magnificent structure, taking in views of Canary Wharf, Hackney and Victoria Park.

You can also walk or jog around this outdoor community stadium's 400-metre track, reliving the glory of Super Saturday at London 2012.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

If you take the bridge from the Olympic Stadium, you'll reach the Olympic Park Gardens, Tessa Jowell Boulevard and the ArcelorMittal Orbit (a colossal slide, pictured above, with prices starting from £16.75). Look out for Greg Rutherford’s Olympic Gold jump printed on the floor and the swan pedal boats available for hire.

You can also walk over to Westfields, if a spot of shopping is on the cards.

Head back to where the river forks and this time continue up over the footbridge and straight ahead.

Barge East

You will soon see the river really start to come to life with bars, restaurants and cafes.

A personal favourite of mine is Barge East, which charmingly places its outdoor tables among its vegetable patch. Their Sunday Roast is a must have - beef or nut!

Moo Canoes

Next door, you'll find Moo Canoes where you can hire paddle boards, kayaks and tandem kayaks (for £36 per boat). This is great for a summer’s outing or a work team-building exercise.

If you're up for something a little more exciting, there's even axe throwing available over the water!

Olympic Park

Further down the river you'll find a footpath on the right. This will lead you to the Olympic Park with the Olympic rings, Velodrome and picture-perfect view of the stadium. With bike and scooter hire, table tennis tables and a pirate-themed playground, there's fun to be had here for all ages.

Mother and Breakfast Club

Back onto the canal, there are more restaurants and cafes up ahead.

A branch of The Breakfast Club restaurant is a popular destination for lots of families, but Mother, a plant-based outlet, is quickly becoming a strong rival with its mouthwatering curries, burgers (pictured above) and sandwiches. Definitely try a smoothie if you're in the mood for something lighter!

Tink Blauth-Muszkowski is a freelance writer. You can find her on Twitter @tink_types or on her website

Main image: Dr Neil Clifton / Old River Lea / CC BY-SA 2.0

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