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Paralympics: Torch Heads For Olympic Park Via London Zoo And Abbey Road (PICTURES)

As dawn was breaking across London, the Paralympic torch was being carried through the capital towards the Olympic Park, where tonight it will ignite the start of the Games.

This morning the torch will grace the six host boroughs, visiting landmarks including the Abbey Road crossing made famous by the Beatles, Lord's Cricket Ground and London Zoo.

It is due at the Shree Swaminarayan Hindu temple in Willesden, Brent, at about 8am, as the relay is running about an hour and a half behind schedule.

Sue Curry, Robert Taylor, Nazmeen Bi, Kayleigh Hawkins and Rashmikant Mehta carry the Paralympic Flame

Four individual flames representing the four home nations were carried into the stadium at Stoke Mandeville last night, and one combined torch was carried out, a beacon of the Paralympic spirit.

Despite much of the relay taking place taking place under cover of darkness, thousands of people turned out on a clear and chill night to watch it on its journey and cheer on the proud torchbearers.

Working in teams of five, the torchbearers, both disabled and non-disabled, carried the flame from the stadium at Stoke Mandeville - the spiritual home of the Paralympic Games - to the National Spinal Injuries Centre in the village, before bearing it through Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, to Watford and then on to Harrow in London.

At the start of the relay last night thousands of people gathered in the market square in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, to watch the event, catch a glimpse of the torch on big screens and enjoy a fireworks display.

Shortly before midnight the Paralympic torch was carried through the village of Weston Turville, in Buckinghamshire, where residents lit candles to line the route.

A London 2012 spokeswoman accompanying the relay said: "The kids were out in their dressing gowns and people had laid candles every step of the way.

"The candles were in jam jars and paper bags and people had lined them up on both sides of the street. It was magical."

It then went through the village of Aston Clinton, where an Olympic torchbearer stood in her official uniform with her own torch in hand as she watched and cheered on her Paralympic counterparts.

Two young children waiting for the torch dozed in a wheelbarrow, wrapped in a duvet to ward off the chill, and were woken to cheer and clap as it was eventually carried past them.

The Paralympic torch relay is heading to the stadium via six Olympic boroughs

In the Hertfordshire market town of Tring, the high street was full as people turned out to watch the Paralympic torch journey.

Games makers - the volunteers behind the Olympic and Paralympic Games - stood in their purple and red uniforms alongside other cheering spectators.

As the relay passed through Berkhamsted the torchbearers were greeted by music, and when it left, the town's church marked its passing with a peal of bells.

The spokeswoman said: "It is great, absolutely great. Each place has got a different way of doing things.

"In Weston Turville the candles along the street were superb, in Tring it was the sheer number of people, and in Berkhamstead there was music while the torch went along the high street, and when it left the church bells rang out.

"It was a beautifully fresh and clear night, with almost a full moon.

"Everyone was cheering and waving flags and holding candles, and there was even a dog with a lantern attached to its collar.

"People have made such an effort, it is amazing.

"An idea that was woven into the Paralympics relay was for people to light a lantern and light the way to the Games, and people have taken that to heart and made it their own."

Four specially-chosen torchbearers were given the honour of carrying the four flames into the stadium at Stoke Mandeville, before coming together to light the cauldron to loud cheers from the assembled crowd.

Paralympic gold medallist Tony Griffin carried the English flame while Paralympian Christopher Channon took the Scottish flame on to the stage.

Special constable Darren Ferguson carried the flame for Northern Ireland after being recognised for going to the aid of a man who wanted to take his own life, while Marsha Wiseman bore the Welsh flame after being nominated for the work she has done to promote the Paralympic Games.

Meigan Lyons, Lesley Anne Newman, Kathlyn Smedley, Hannah Lane, Dora Witcomb carry the Paralympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg through Harrow

The four flames were struck last week by young disabled and non-disabled Scouts on the four highest mountain peaks in each of the four host nations - Scafell Pike in England, Snowdon in Wales, Ben Nevis in Scotland and Northern Ireland's Slieve Donard.

They then rested at Paralympic celebrations in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff before being taken to Stoke Mandeville, where the Paralympic movement began in 1948 after neurologist Ludwig Guttman came up with the idea of rehabilitating injured servicemen with sport.

Earlier, London 2012 chairman Lord Coe addressed the crowd, saying he was "so excited" to be at the home of the Games on the eve of their opening.

He said: "It's been a long time coming - seven years for our teams at Locog but 64 years since the passion and drive of Ludwig Guttmann signposted this extraordinary journey we have all been on.

"It is simply not possible to stand here without feeling a mountainous debt of gratitude for one of the world's great visionaries.

"I would like to think that if Ludwig Guttmann were here today, he would be proud of the way we have united the four nations of the UK with these flames in the same way we aim to unite the world through the London 2012 Paralympic Games."

The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960.

Stoke Mandeville co-hosted the Games with New York in 1984, when they took over the running of the wheelchair events when Illinois pulled out at the last minute, but 2012 marks the first time the whole Paralympics has been staged in the UK.