diamond geezer

 Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Reviewing the Fleet
Entering the Thames

Here it is, the very spot I've been tracking down for the last month - the mouth of the River Fleet. Look carefully, in the gloom underneath Blackfriars Bridge, there where the left bank meets the grey waters of the ebbing Thames. That arched hole in the wall, just behind the rusty ladder leading down from the Embankment into the river, that's where the Fleet storm drain flows out into the Thames. My journey is complete.

1) Take advice from an expert: I learnt how to find the mouth of the River Fleet from Sue, the guide who runs the "Lost World of the River Fleet" guided walk. Thanks Sue. [nb If you fancy going on the same walk it's running just once more in the next few months, on Saturday 16th September - departs Blackfriars station, exit 1, 2:30pm] [photo]
2) Wait for low tide: It's no good visiting the river at high tide, or even at medium tide, because everything will be hidden beneath up to seven metres of water [photo]. Wait for low tide or, even better, one of the especially low spring tides that happen around the time of the full or new moon (tide tables here). [nb There should be a pretty good view at 7am or 7pm this Saturday, for example]
3) Stand in the right place: Because the Fleet empties into the Thames beneath Blackfriars Bridge, in the dark space between the Embankment and the northernmost arch, your viewing options are very limited. Very limited indeed. In fact there are only three places (on land) from which the Fleet outfall can be seen:
a) Stand on Paul's Walk, the dingy passageway beneath Blackfriars Bridge, about halfway under the main span just to the left of the locked-up ladder. Hold your camera out above the water and take a photo looking straight down. [nb this method produces very unsatisfactory results] [photo]
b) Stand on the jetty at Blackfriars Millennium Pier, next to the ramshackle mustard coloured hut (opposite the top of the ramp) and look east [this photo shows you where]. [nb You'll need your binoculars/zoom lens] [photo]
c) Stand at the bottom of the steps leading down from exit 5 of the Blackfriars subway system [these photos show you where]. Hang out precariously over the parapet and look into the murky gloom under the bridge. Take a photograph or three. [nb Don't expect anything stunning - it's just a hole in the river wall criss-crossed by a couple of chains] [photo]

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