Thursday, April 06, 2023

Walking with Keilyn: Olympic Park to the Mithraeum... and beyond

London The Unfinished City
Aquatics Centre.

 Tuesday April 4, 2023.

With the first week of the Easter holidays begun and with the weather on our side Keilyn, my 9 year old daughter, and I decided to take a trip to London. On Keilyn's insistence we headed to Stratford, via the Jubilee line, as she wanted to explore the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Our journey was uneventful and after grabbing a hot drink and some food, at Stratford station, we made our way to the park. 

London The Unfinished City
West Ham FC Stadium.

Crossing WaterWorks River, via Stratford Walk, we were immediately in front of what is now West Ham FC Stadium, while below us, on the river, the Water Chariots and swan pedalos were moored up.

London The Unfinished City
Water Chariots and Swan pedalos.

Turning right we headed towards the Pleasure Gardens Play Area, which Keilyn thought was 'Okay'. We continued by following the course of the River Lea via Middlesex Way, which brought us to Eastcross Bridge, next to which the 'Agitos' stood tall and proud against the blue sky. 

London The Unfinished City

Following the path around brought us to the London Blossom Garden and the Tumbling Bay Playground. Keilyn was suitably impressed with this little park.

London The Unfinished City
Keilyn just swinging around.

From here we clambered up and down hills to see the Olympic Rings, set among a small copse of trees. 

London The Unfinished City
Keilyn, an Olympian in the making?

Then it was back down the hill to Gaskell's Fort play area, which Keilyn loved.

London The Unfinished City
Gaskell's Fort Play area.

Then we crossed Knights Bridge and turned left and ourselves back on Middlesex Way, which we followed until we reached Marshgate Lane. We followed this until we turned onto Bassett Lane, which took us across the River Lea Navigation. 

London The Unfinished City
Not your normal pavement hazard.

Following our feet we ended up approaching the St Mark's Gate entrance to Victoria Park. Immediately taking a right we found the two stone alcoves, from the old London Bridge, that were placed here in 1860.

London The Unfinished City
Keilyn in one of the four surviving stone alcoves from old London Bridge.

Taking one of the tree-lined avenues we soon found ourselves at the Victoria Park Kid's Man Playground. With its slides, sandpits, swings and the such, Keilyn was in her element. 

London The Unfinished City
Where's Keilyn?

Once she had had her fill of the playground and had eaten some food we headed into the Hub Cafe, to use the facilities, before I bought her an ice cream and we continued on our stroll.

Crossing Grove Road, which separates the park into east and west, we entered the West park by the West Boating Lake. Taking a route to the right we walked around the side of the lake, admiring the beauty of the place, while looking at the wildlife. Cormorants, Parakeets, ducks, various species of geese to name just a few were spotted. 

London The Unfinished City
West Boating Lake.

Then, as the path meandered off to the left, we spotted a Chinese Pagoda on a small island, linked to us by a rustic bridge. So cross it we did and took lots of photos as we explored this wonderful building.

London The Unfinished City
Keilyn in the Chinese Pagoda.

Continuing on we headed across a Chinese-style bridge towards one of the many exits from the park. This one, Bonner Gate, is guarded by the Dogs of Alcibiades and the bridge allowed us a great view along the canal.

London The Unfinished City
Looking west along the canal, from Bonner Gate.

From here it was just a short walk to Bethnal Green station, passing the closed Young V&A, from where we took a Central line train to Liverpool Street station.

London The Unfinished City
Young V&A closed for refurbishment.

On exiting Liverpool Street station we headed in the direction of Moorgate, through Finsbury Circus Gardens, as it was still a wonderful afternoon and we were in no rush.

London The Unfinished City
Liverpool Street station.

We then had a change of mind, deciding to head towards the River Thames to see if we could find my eldest daughter and her family, as they were in London visiting Sea Life Centre London Aquarium. So we turned onto Moorgate, stopped at a shop to purchase some drinks and snacks and then continued down towards the Bank of England. 

I then had another idea, so we turned onto Walbrook and entered the London Mithraeum. After speaking to one of the staff members about spaces he replied that there was no need to book, recently, so inside we went. Keilyn was fascinated by the Roman artefacts on display and, with her activity pack, was ready to explore. We headed down the stairs and Keilyn interacted with the three displays. 

London The Unfinished City
Light effects in the Mithraeum.

A few minutes later it was our turn to enter the Mithraeum, along with a group of about 20 people. Keilyn was a little unsure at first as the whole place was in darkness, with only lights around the edges and benches. We made our way to the altar end of the Temple of Mithras and waited for the 6 minute immersive experience to begin. I had been to Mithraeum before, so I knew what to expect, while Keilyn waited patiently.

London The Unfinished City
Keilyn in the Temple to Mithras.

Soon the sounds of Londinium began to fill the space, along with a haze and lights. We then started to move around the Mithraeum taking lots of photos. We then made our way back out and explored more of the exhibit as Keilyn was eager to fill in the gaps in her activity pack. Once completed we headed back out into the afternoon sun, onto Cannon Street and then across Southwark Bridge.

The south bank was busy. Compared to all of the open spaces that we had visited thus far this day, the south bank was busy. And I mean... busy. Even at the height of summer I had rarely seen it his busy. So, we made our way westward, dodging the tourists and tour guides, but still looking at the landmarks and architecture of the area.

As Keilyn has walked this area more than any other, in London, she knew exactly where we had to go, often darting ahead, her eyes constantly peeled for Alysha and family.

London The Unfinished City
London Eye.

Eventually we reached the Jubilee Gardens and began our search for them. Sure enough, Keilyn was the one to find them, sitting at the front of a crowd watching one of the many street performers that ply their trade along the Queen's Walk.

When the performer had finished Keilyn, Alysha and my grandkids, Theodore and Isla-Mai went for a ride on the Golden Carousel, while I stood with Lewis and watched.

London The Unfinished City
Isla-Mai, Keilyn Theodore and Alysha aboard the Golden Carousel.

With time getting on we all decided to head to Waterloo Station, to use the facilities, and catch a train home. What a mistake that was. It turned out that all of the toilets in the station were closed and that temporary ones were situated outside. So, while Alysha and her family were in Starbucks I took Keilyn to the temporary toilets, of which there were three, with a queue of about 10 people for each one. Keilyn assured me that she would be fine, so we headed back in to find Alysha. 

A few phone calls later and with the crowds getting larger we didn't manage to reconnect, so Keilyn and I jumped on the first Jubilee line train to Stanmore, alighting at Baker Street and making it to platform 4 in time to catch the semi-fast Metropolitan line train to Watford. Knowing that Alysha likes to change at Finchley Road as it is an easier station to navigate with young children, there was a possibility that we would be there at the same time. Unfortunately, I was wrong. They arrived at Finchley Road as our train pulled out.

Keilyn was still raring to go and full of energy, when we got home from the station, via a taxi, which wasn't bad, but, when she did eventually go to bed, she was out like a light.

I can't wait for our next stroll through this great unfinished city.

Distance travelled:
  • Car - 0.0 miles
  • Taxi - 1.5 miles
  • Train - 0.0 miles
  • Underground - 51 miles
  • Walking - 9.7 miles


  1. Wow. That was some walk. Such a lot to see. You could easily be a London Tour Guide. Great Blog.

    1. It was definitely a trek that was full of history and discovery. Thank you.