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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Everywhere in London there are chances to escape from the noise and crowds and visit a quiet and green spot. And this is true in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, even when there are multitudes of people thronging the venues.

Over in the east of the park, the wet woodlands of the waterglades are quiet and serene, magical and yet melonchonic. Plant life cleanses the water, with dragonflies and damselflies darting around.

A tranquil sight

Alder trees have been planted here and they attract goldfinches and siskins. There has sometimes been the rare sight of a stag beetle scuttling around. Streams of water trickle around the dips in the ground, encouraging damp loving plants which thrive here.

A hidden stream

Damp loving plants

This wild natural space contrasts with the more obviously designed gardens that lie along the front of the stadium, with plants from all over the world, which show off colour all year round.

Winter brightness from the Southern Hemisphere

Tucked behind the stadium there is another carefully designed but more natural looking space - the British Garden, which resembles a traditional cottage garden. Here there are robins, dunnocks, blue tits and chaffinches hiding in the hedges.

Bats flit around as dusk falls, oblivious to the noise and excitement in the venue where major sporting events are held. And from this point it is possible to duck down and join the canal path, to wander around the Bow Back Waters.

Here there are 30 different species of plants, including rshes, reeds, sedges, wet wildflowers and irises. It is easy to lose all sense of direction but the joy of roaming around the blue and green spaces is that you never know what you will discover further along the path, around the corner or over the hill.

Over at the back of the park the paths are flat, wide and clear but there are neglected stretches of open land beside them which are uneven, untidy and arid. They may appear to be waiting patiently to be levelled, raked and planted with carpets of lawns but they are actually an important eco system for insects and other creatures that thrive on land which is stony and partly barren.

Wild and arid

A rocky landscape

The jigsaw of eco systems which the Olympic Park has formed welcomed the World in 2012. Now it is welcoming or appealing to birds and bats, lizards and frogs or even perhaps otters and watervoles.

This once grey and grim landscape is now England's green and pleasant land.

Walk or cycle from Hackney Marshes or the River Lea Towpath or walk from Stratford Train Station.


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