GUIDE TO THE RIVER THAMES
(Pimlico to Surrey Quays)
NAME OF RIVER: Thames.
WHERE IS IT?: Central London. Pimlico to Surrey Quays.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put-in Grosvenor Road on the north bank south west of Pimlico. There is a set of steps by a gate in the railings half way between Claverton Street and Lupus Street. There's a pub opposite handy for a few Britney Spears and a Jimmy Riddle while waiting for the shuttle to return.
Take-out at Greenland Dock. There are some steps just before the dock entrance. Take the boats round to the left hand side of the dock and seal launch in just after the floating pub. Paddle to the far right hand end of the dock and take- out by the steps. A sling and karabiner come in handy for this bit. The Surrey Quays car park is the other side of the underpass.
APPROX LENGTH: 15 km.
TIME NEEDED: 1 - 2 hours depending on sight-seeing, ebb tide and river flow.
ACCESS HASSLES: Tidal Thames? No Problem! A guy from the watersports centre in Greenland Dock who was paddling, came over and told us that this bit of water was private water for the club but let us paddle across for access.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Need and ebb tide. See tide tables at the Port of London website. (www.portoflondon.co.uk)
GRADING: 1 but some bouncy bits too.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The low gate at the put- in needs to be climbed over carefully. Watch out for the lower railing chain when seal launching into Greenland Dock and the shopping trolleys at the far end take-out. Major credit card damage can occur if you spend too long in the Decathlon sport superstore at the take- out. Their own brand cycling clothes are well cheap and their palmless windsurfing gloves look like they might be excellent cold weather paddling kit.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A truly Capital trip. The first section passes by all those classic sites in central London. Be photographed by hoards of Jap tourists on the bridges and watch people staring down at you from the London Eye. Once past the not so Wobbly Bridge you can get some bouncy water til Tower Bridge compounded by the wash from tourist cruises. We tried surfing their stern waves but you have to be quick and get in close. You should travel down river right but we crossed from time to time and stuck to the edges sight-seeing. After Tower Bridge the river widens and it can become serenely quiet even though you are so close to the centre of London. This is a great trip if you are passing through London or you want to take your foreign paddling friend to view the sites.
OTHER NOTES: Shuttle info. From the put ?in drive down across Vauxhall Bridge and head towards Elephant and Castle, Bermonsey and you'll start to see the signs for Surrey Quays shopping centre and park there. Take the Canada Wharf tube to Westminster, change and go to Victoria and change again and go to Pimlico. Head out of the station and down towards the river. The shuttle should take about an hour in all with your mate well oiled in the pub by the time you get back. Don't worry about looking silly on the tube in your paddling gear; it's London and people won't notice you!
CONTRIBUTED BY: Nigel Blandford.