Spectators guide – how to get there and what to expect?

Today’s post provides you some tips on how to get to the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre and what to expect when you get there – apart from the obvious incredible, exhilarating, tense, exciting canoe slalom competition from the best paddlers in the World!

The plus is that Lee Valley is out of London and away from other venues, that said there are still 12,000 spectators each day, plus athletes, managers, coaches and all the officials! We have never had a bigger canoe slalom event in the UK. Amazing to think 60,000 people (thereabouts) will see it up front from fabulous tiered stadium seating and millions and millions will see it on TV. Canoe Slalom has consistently had amongst the highest viewing figures of any Olympic sport in recent years. Great Britain’s David Florence, Beijing silver medallist has described Lee Valley as one of the toughest slalom courses in the World.

There will be a subsequent post on where to watch it on TV. There will be excellent live commentary of the race and a wonderful view of the whitewater course. A previous post explained the Competition Schedule and individual race timings and format.

LOCOG Travel Guide to Lee Valley Whitewater Centre london2012.com/venue

To get to the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre it is first important to be aware that there is no spectator parking at or near the venue!!!! So it is down to public transport, walking or cycling. Free Games Travelcards have been provided for National Rail and public transport in London (zones 1-9) to and from the Cheshunt station. Cheshunt station is approximately a 25 minute walk through Lee Valley Regional Park. The access to the venue for spectators is through the Lee Valley Park and not from Station Road. There is cycle parking and also an accessible shuttle bus for those with impaired mobility. There is a special website www.london2012.com/travel. The course is just north of the M25 London orbital motorway between the towns of Waltham Cross and historic town of Waltham Abbey. There is a park and ride shuttle, however, LOCOG advise that this must have been booked in advance on their website. It is recommended to arrive two hours before the start of the competition, which begins at 1.30pm (i.e. so plan to arrive by 11.30am. There will be airport-style security screening to pass through for access to the venue. One soft sided bag is allowed per person up to 25 litres in size. Check www.london2012.com/security for a list of the restrictions in place. As mentioned in my ‘Canoe Slalom from Behind the Lens’ post there are some restrictions on the size and type of cameras, although smart phones are fine. There is no re-admission to the venue. Canoe Slalom is a water sport, and be aware we are in the UK, even in summer the weather can be unpredictable and it usually rains at slalom races! Come prepared for winter and you will be fine, with sun cream just in case! The stadium is outdoor and not covered.

The site is well prepared and tested. It was the first new purpose built Olympic venue to be completed and opened to the public. We held a full international test event in July 2011 and Great Britain team selection on the course in April. Congratulations to all those who inspired and delivered this stunning venue and to Canoe Manager, John MacLeod who has led the organisation of this event. Lots of local kids and adventurous souls have already had the opportunity to raft down the course, including British Junior team paddler, Zachary Franklin, holding the Olympic Torch. See the MailOnline for wonderful photos from the Torch on the Lee Valley course.

LOCOG plan of Lee Valley london2012.com/venue

The site includes: toilets, accessible toilets, ticket resolution office, Games mobility, spectator medical, pushchair & wheelchair storage, a London 2012 shop, food and drink, information, lost and found, lift and cycle parking. Visit www.london2012.com for further or more accurate advice, including Blue Badge access information. Only Visa (debit, credit and prepaid) or cash can be used at the venue in recognition of Visa’s longstanding support of the Olympic Games. There is no ATM (cashpoint) at Lee Valley Whitewater Centre.


Here is a picture of the course all dressed up for the start of the Olympics (photographer owner unknown)

After the Olympics, the Lee Valley course reopens to the public in September and London will have an incredible legacy world class venue just outside London. This is something of which we once only dreamed. It is already confirmed as the venue for the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in 2015. We hope all those who enjoy the Olympic canoe slalom will come back to support the World’s, which will have approximately 50 nations and a much larger start list and include the C1W class.

Tomorrow’s post will look at the live race commentary and what to expect. Comments always welcome here or @gregiej on Twitter.

One thought on “Spectators guide – how to get there and what to expect?

  1. Pingback: Part 4 – My personal top 3 pick of the mix canoe slalom | Canoe Slalom blog

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