GES056 - Olympic Park Sports Facility, London (Trip 2)
N.B. **It should be noted that i'd recently bought a Canon 7D for this trip, and had no idea about ISO speeds. I knew that 100 was good, and noise increases with each increase. My Canon 40D only went up to 800, and you would have to force it for up to 1600. For a night exposure i used to just put it on 'P' mode and shoot. When I did it at O Park, the Canon 7D without asking, just shot at 3200ISO. Hence why the pics are worse than usual. Thanks to GE043 for advice on this.**
Less than a week after Trip 1, and I pull up near Rotherhithe Tube station. The Brunel tunnel under the Thames is open to the public. I'm here to meet GE077. We'd talked about doing something for awhile, and I said I wanted to go back, and he was up for it. Sadly we hadn't realised you were supposed to pre-book the Brunel Tunnel, so after a quick wander around, we hopped on the scooter to Bow/Stratford.
On arriving I parked up near the main Statford Station. I had originally entered on the Western side of the site, but after reading the report GE007 had put up, I realised that the entrance was going to be easier on the other side. There was mention of going in near the Aqua Centre. We started to walk along the roads near the perimeter. There were train tracks criss-crossing the area, and I was concerned access would have involved crossing them. Something I wasn't keen or likely to do. So we kept moving on around. I found the a dirty looking warehouse building that I thought may contain something. We walked around the back, but no joy, we also found we weren't alone, and quickly tip-toed out.
We came to an area with lots of new buildings being worked on in various states of completion. We also came to a canal which ended our progress. Next to it was a stripped building. We popped inside for a better look around the area. We could see a security post with a bored security guard inside it, we could also see a way into the site. However right next to us was a block of apartments looking down onto the area we'd have to cross. We decided to wait a bit longer and let people go to bed and things become quieter. As we did, we heard footsteps coming up the stairwell. It being a stripped building there wasn't anywhere to hide, so we stood behind the stairwell where it bulges into the room. We were then confronted by 3 distincly East European looking transients, carrying cheap booze and using a mobile phone light to guide them. A brief exchange in bad English looking for cigarettes, and off they went. We later found them joking and drinking on the ground floor, before settling down for the night.
After some brief shut eye on the top floor, it was time for action. We left the building and ran around to hop into the site. I went to see if access was possible along the canal side to clear a bridge, but no joy. So we crept along under a bridge, where not far away a truck was idling. After a while of anxiously looking around for the truck driver/s, we decided they weren't, and climbed up to the bridge above us. It was a bit open, but sometimes you have to take the risks. From the top we could see the path before us and the canals and roads cutting up said path. The canal runs diagonally through the site in the pic below. As do the well lit bridges, making stealth tricky. This was going to be fun!
Another place i'd like to visit, even at this hour was still being worked on unfortunately, the Aqua centre. Allegedly Downfallen had made it to the roof.
GE077 was keen to go left here, so we walked not far from the perimeter fence around the site, until we were closer to the stadium. We then followed a narrow man made ditch most of the way to the site. This involved quickly crossing open ground, ducking under bridges, avoiding annoying a group of ducks, and getting to a road. All this way, there had been ambient light from the many lights on the site. We could have been spotted relatively easily at any point. Roads were a bit different, as from previous experience, I knew that the security patrol cars drove around at a fair old pace, and it wouldn't be good to be seen crossing the brightly lit road. There was also some kind of small worker hut suitable for one person. We weren't sure if it was occupied. So tried to view it from different angles. It seemed empty, so we bolted across the road into an unlit area of open muddy ground, divided up by fencing. A gate left open made things easier.
Finally, we were within one canal of the stadium. It meant crossing a bridge only lit by ambient light. GE077 spotted a single dome cam sat off to the side of the bridge and between the bridge and the stadium. There was nothing for it but to crawl across the outer bridge, leaving a 50cms high concrete wall to hide us from the camera. We got dirty, and I ravaged my knees on that crawl. We finally got to the end of the bridge, and were 25m from the stadium. Just that pesky dome cam. I legged it first to the stadium, crouching the first 15m behind various traffic dividing blocks lying about. The last 10m I just legged it. I was then in the shadows under the stadium. I looked about and signalled to GE077 to come. We were now under the seating of the stadium, all the supports built up around us.
GE077 whipped up the stairs, and we were in the stadium itself. Another problem now arose. Although there was no seating, there was the bright creamy white concrete sections that the seats would go on. We were wearing dark ninja sty-lee colours. Queue lightning fast run up the steps to the top of the stadium after checking there was no movement in the darkened stadium. Even when we got to the top, there was no real cover. We had to put some panels up which meant we could lie down and wouldn't be seen. GE077 took some photos first while I kept an eye out, and then we swapped over duties. Looking down from the top of the stadium. Not all of the light gantries have been put up, and some sat in the middle of the stadium.
I have to say, from the top it didn't look that big. What was big, was my excitement at making it here, but luckily a sign was able to cover that up.
I also grabbed a shot of the view over the site towards the Aqua centre.
We then looked up, and saw the observation gallery that rings the stadium above the stands. A quick climb up some noisy metal steps, and we were up. It was here that the obvious 'ooh look what I done' photos would have to be taken.
Myself in front, GE077 behind. The stands running to the centre of the stadium below.
After we got down, we were quickly descending to our entry point, when GE077 spotted some black dots moving on the far side of the stadium. We hid behind the back of an audience entry point low wall, and watched. The 2 guys in black just seemed to run into the stadium, and 15 seconds later run out again. Relieved, we quickly went down the entry ramp. I wanted to see more of the stadium and get to the running track. GE077 was concerned about being caught, so stayed near the audience entrance stairs in the dark.
Before me were the tiny steps of the lower stands, the seat rails already in place.
After constant checking and creeping about, I got onto the track via a ditch. I set up the 10second timer on the camera and assumed the appropriate position. The lit up area behind me is the commentary and VIP booths.
A quick shot up the stadium from the bottom of the lower tier, and time to re-join GE077 for the exit. The white concrete band in the centre of the pic is the end of the top tier of stands.
We then reversed the way we'd come, caring a bit less about being seen, but still no desire to be caught. It felt good to come down from the bridge, and be within striking distance of the exit. The truck had finally been moved by someone. I'd stopped to get some photos from the bridge, so GE077 was ahead of me on exiting. I came out from the last bridge and was walking on the inside of the hoarding when I became aware a site security car was on the other side. I ran to the access point and stumbled through, making more noise than i'd have liked. I found GE077 inside the stripped building, and we kept low for a bit.
The security van was slowly backing up and was near the window we were trying to spy from. We decided it was time to leave and left the building and walked up the road as calmly as possible. The security car slowly followed us, and then stopped at the crossroads. We didn't look back and walked off through a housing estate on footpaths. Back over the tube line, and near my scooter, we were able to breath a sigh of relief. It was a brilliant infiltration and our first successful explore together. Many more were to follow.
This appears on UER, Members as both trips to OP. Name changed to Olympus Parkos.