London simply would not exist in the form that it does today without the River Thames. It has been, at different times, a waterway, an economic resource, and a source of water and food, to name just a few. Today, the river is just as vibrant as ever. In this edition, I thought I would focus on all that the River Thames & London’s waterways have to offer, enabling you to explore the not only the famous sights but those fascinating less well-known.
The River Thames
Arguably the best way to see the city is from the Thames. There are a range of boat trips available, from sightseeing tours to the High-Speed RIB Cruise. The simplest way is just to take one of the UBER Boats by Thames Clippers that run on the Thames where you see the same sights, just without the commentary!
The Thames Path If, like me, you prefer to keep to walking on dry land, any part of the varied 185.2 miles Thames Path is wonderful. The London stretch of the Path spans from the lost floodplains of Richmond to the Dickensian stretches of the eastern marshes. The Path is signposted all along, so look out for the Thames Path National Trail symbol.
Totally Thames throughout September 2022 This month-long festival includes art and cultural activities, as well as walks, talks & boat rides. It’s one of the most important river festivals in the world. Highlights include concerts, lots of art installations, river-related events, and more! Many of the events are offered free of charge, with something available for all the family. https://thamesfestivaltrust.org/
Mudlarking At low tide, the Thames foreshore is a remarkable combination of beach and archaeological site. Mudlarking is the practice of scavenging through river mud for lost items of value or historical significance. I may not be selling this one very well but honestly, it’s one of the best things I’ve done in London. In order to participate you must have a Thames foreshore permit from the Port of London Authority (PLA) https://www.pla.co.uk/Environment/Thames-foreshore-permits The Thames is liquid history so the 19th Century MP John Burn said – so why not explore it in sensible footwear!
Horrible History - Terrible Thames One for our youngest members (and big kids too), Horrible Histories proudly presents its wicked boat tour of the Terrible Thames! Climb aboard and prepare to hear the horrible history of the most famous river in the world. Tremble in terror at the Tower! Sizzle at the Savoy! Give Cleopatra the needle! Be washed away at Westminster! Lose yourself in Lambeth! Get gobsmacked by the Globe! Hold onto your head at London Bridge and escape from the Execution Dock! Drawing on the books and BBC programme this is a fun way to explore the history of the river.
Docks, Canals & Waterways
London’s waterways are not limited to the Thames. The Grand Union Canal and Regent’s Canal both connect other waterways to the river and have so much happening on them, here are just a few:
Kayak in London’s Canals Try an alternative sightseeing tour with Moo Canoes. Happily, no experience is needed to pilot these two-man vessels, decorated with black-and-white cow prints, so devoted landlubbers are just as welcome as veteran seafarers. There are 12 different routes of varying difficulty, leading everywhere across the city, from the idyllic canals and rivers of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the bustling waterways of Angel and Clapton.
Float-in Cinema on Regent's Canal The float-in cinema is London’s cinematic experience by boat! It takes place at Merchant Square in Paddington. You’ll get to sail your own boat through Little Venice and then moor at Merchant Square to watch a classic film. If going on a boat isn’t for you, there will also be dozens of deckchairs along the towpath.
The Puppet Theatre Barge The Puppet Theatre Barge is a unique, fifty-seat marionette theatre on a converted barge. The theatre presents puppet shows for children and adults and is moored in Little Venice throughout the year and in Richmond-upon-Thames during the summer.
London Canal Museum This unique waterside museum of London's canals is housed in a former 1860’s ice warehouse in Kings Cross. Here you discover how the canals came to be built, what cargo they carried, who lived and worked on them, and how horses played an important part in the operation of the canal barges. Get a flavour of life on the canals when you venture inside a narrowboat cabin. Currently open Wednesdays to Sundays.
The Museum of London Docklands This beautiful former sugar warehouse based in West India Quay, explains the history of the River Thames, the growth of the Port of London, and the dock’s historical link to the Atlantic slave trade. Not to be missed! A great way to travel to this museum is via riverboat.
Whatever you choose to do, I am sure you will enjoy messing about on the River!
Please contact me if I can assist you with your future visit. 020 7930 3557