Skip to main content

The charity making life better by water

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Waterways

You can now cruise the waterways around the London Stadium, which includes the Old River Lea, City Mill River and St Thomas Creek, without needing to book first. But you will need to book passage through some of the locks onto the Thames.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Rebuilding the Bow Back Rivers

Known as the Bow Back Rivers, this historic network of waterways was transformed in the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as part of a major investment and clean-up programme.

The six kilometres of rivers in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park were once a key transport network for the industries that lined the river but the decline of canal freight after the Second World War, together with a build-up of silt, saw the rivers become virtually un-navigable and derelict until they were eventually closed altogether by the 1960s.

This all changed with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The waterways were to become the green veins of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a massive restoration and clean-up operation was put into effect.

Going for gold

Throughout the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we worked with the Olympic Delivery Authority to improve the condition of these rivers. We created new river walls and towpaths, dredged deeper channels, improved wildlife habitats and refurbished disused locks.

We handed over the rivers to the London Legacy Development Corporation in 2012, but continued to work in partnership to breathe new life into these once hidden and forgotten waterways.

Back in our care

In summer 2016 we once again took over the day-to-day care of these rivers, continuing to work closely with the London Legacy Development Corporation.

We've jointly produced a strategy, our Olympic Legacy Waterways Framework, which sets out how our waterways can continue to be improved so everyone can use and enjoy them every day in the years to come.

Please avoid stopping at Stadium Island

There is a charge of £150 for stopping or mooring in the stadium island loop.

There are signs along the water's edge advising your where to stop and moor.

If you ignore the signs and moor in the park, and do not move on, as a last resort, we will need to move your boat a short distance to Bow Free Wharf, using our contractors District Enforcement Ltd, where you'll be easily able to collect it.

Last Edited: 30 August 2023

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration