diamond geezer

 Sunday, November 26, 2006

QueenhitheLow tide London

Most Londoners probably think that their nearest beach is in Southend, or maybe Brighton, but they'd be wrong. There are several beaches (or at least bits of foreshore masquerading as beaches) along the Thames, even through the middle of Central London. When the tide's high you can't see them at all, and many tourists probably never even realise that they exist. But as the river level falls, up to 6½m every twelve hours, so the river ebbs away to reveal long stretches of rock and mud. It may not be golden Mediterranean sand, but if you fancy a bit of beachcombing it's a darned sight more convenient to get to.
watch the Thames rise and fall

beach below Tate ModernThis is the beach at Bankside [photo], just below the Tate Modern [photo]. It's one of the longer stretches and, if you time it right, also one of the widest. With a bit of luck somebody will have unlocked the gate in the railings along the river's edge [map] and you can make your way down the low stone steps onto the sand. Yes, that's definitely sand at the top of the beach, although it soon gives way to rock and muddy shingle further down. Eroded half-bricks and pebbles litter the exposed river bed, some dark and jagged, others bleached white and smooth. Decaying wooden stumps stick up from the ground, the remnants of some old wall or Tudor jetty. Dark brown rusty pipes snake half-covered beneath the shingle, thankfully no longer dribbling ooze into the river. There's not as much washed-up litter and glass as you might fear, nor as much green slime as you might expect.

beneath the Millennium BridgeBest of all, you've probably got the whole quarter mile of beach to yourself, all the way from Blackfriars Bridge [photo] to Bankside Pier [photo]. Well, just you and a ragbag collection of feral pigeons, swooping seagulls and big black crows. Try picking your way across the rocks directly underneath the non-wobbly Millennium Bridge and looking across the river towards St Paul's Cathedral on the opposite bank [photo]. You might even spot some fragments of pottery or an old sailor's clay pipe in the mud, although I suspect that most of these were spotted and nabbed long ago. Don't stand too near the water's edge, or the backwash from a passing speedboat or Thames cruiser might overflow your boots. And ignore the funny looks you're getting from tourists wandering along the South Bank above you. Perhaps they can't work out how you got down there, or maybe they simply can't imagine why anyone would want to slum it on a low rocky shelf. But they're the ones missing out. Just make sure you get back up the steps before the beach disappears from view beneath the rising tide.

Other stretches of Thames beach accessible at low tide:
• between Coin Street and the Oxo Tower [map] [photo]
• in front of the Festival Hall (location of "Reclaim the Beach") [website] [report] [panorama]
• at the end of Cousin Lane beside Cannon Street station [map] [photo]
• beneath Old Billingsgate Market [map] [report & photos from onionbagblogger] [panorama]
• New Crane Stairs (close to The Prospect of Whitby pub), Wapping [map] [photo]
• Golden Anchor Stairs [map] and Piper's Wharf [map] between Greenwich and the Dome
• at North Woolwich, between the ferry and Royal Victoria Gardens [map] [photo]
Steps, stairs and landing places on the tidal Thames (hurrah, a nearly-comprehensive list!)

Low tide at London Bridge today is at 11:10am

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream