London

Tower Bridge, HMS BelfastIt began as a tiny thought yesterday afternoon, it grew during Bake Off and was squished again after reading the ‘London Tideway Guide: Downstream Addition’   – at 24 pages it’s a whopping eight pages longer than it’s upstream counterpart and with linLondon Eyees like ‘It is very important to appreciate that making the passage downstream to Limehouse from Teddington or from Brentford is considerably more challenging that coming the other way,’ we decided it was no go. So we went to bed, happy with the knowlSt Paulsedge that just a short trip down to Brentford lay ahead.

But the sun was shining this morning, and the water was calm, and the tides were perfect. There was no way we could go though as we hadn’t given Limehouse 24hrs notice –Tidal Thames so emphasising our lack of bookingTower Bridge we felt safe to ask the Teddington lock keeper, expecting flat no, meaning we could at least tell ourselves we tried. We weren’t expecting him to say ‘It should be fine, phone Limehouse,’ and we really weren’t expecting Limehouse to say come oHouses of Parliamentn down…

Waiting with a nervous hireboater on his way to Brentford wasn’t the most calming start, then out of the blue another narrowboat sped along to Teddington Lock, he was going all the way too. Yay. Out into slack water nothing seemed any different to the non-tidal section above Teddington, in fact with so little rain andDazzle Ship a low tide the river was way calmer than our previous Brentford journey. As the hireboater veered awayShard into the safety of The Grand Union Canal we ploughed on, the tide was beginning to pick up and it was no struggle to keep good time. Miles and miles passed, the water grew wide, the Boat Race finish came and went, the Boat Race staTower of Londonrt came and went, Harrods The GlobeDepositary, Battersea Power Station – other than the odd City Cruiser the water seemed quite quiet. Then London came in waves, thick and fast. The traffic busied up and the landmarks were hard to keep up with in between negotiating the OXO Towerbest angle to direct the boat in order to tackle the ever-increasing rolls of wake. Suddenly London was all around, we were a teeny-weeny boat muddled in a big cityThames snow globe – even a crazy Dazzle ship used extensively in WW1 added to the mad whirl wind.

The grand finale came in the form of Tower Bridge – built from 31 million bricks, two million rivets and 22,000 litres of paint that all opens on average three times a day…no need for our passage, we just about Clippers passing Limehouse Locksqueezed under, before radioing our position into Limehouse.

As the sights decreased the reality of the turn into Limehouse Basin hit home. The main rule being: travel on to get a good view round the bend before attempting to turn to the wrong side of the river…the Clippers come quickly, which they did, two of them jentering Limehouse Lockust as we wanted to turn. Eeek. So we waited, the boat pitched and rolled in their wake. In reality there’s not Limehouse Basinan awful lot of time that Clippers aren’t zooming at you from one direction or the other, flashing their ‘making life easier’ sign writing – really?  We bit the bullet and turned. Willing the boat to come round the waters were all over the place – people talk of ‘back-Eddys’ – perhaps that’s what it was, butLimehouse Lock one things for sure it’s our trickiest lock turn to date, smashing Selby out the park. Safe and sound we moved into the lock and up into a gloriously sunny Limehouse Basin.

An adrenalin fuelled start to London for all three of us, having had an axe fall on him during the turn Murk was pleased to stretch his legs – which he did in Canary Wharf as though he owned the place.

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5 Comments on “London”

  1. Wendy says:

    WHAT an adventure – something you will never forget – and you had time to take photos. To see you go under Tower Bridge on the webcam was unreal, very brave.
    P.S. Tell someone Big Ben is falling! xx

  2. paulfcook says:

    Hi Nick and Emma. It was good to meet you on this part of your trip (I was out walking with my friend Matthew and his dog Murphy). I took some pictures of you as you were going through the lock and I wondered if you wanted to copies. I couldn’t see a way to add them to the blog or this reply


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