Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Tackling the Thames - City Sightseeing

Have you been wondering where we've got to?
Last post we had arrived in Limehouse Basin ready to tackle the Thames on Tuesday morning.
There are always a few nerves about going out on the tideway and finding our way through all the 'big' boats.  But we had plenty of time to prepare Tacet, and ourselves; anchor out ready, lifejackets found, valuables secured; all set for 11am.
In the lock ready to be let down.  There are no sluices on these gates, they are curved radial gates and the lock keeper opens them a little at a time letting the water out slowly til we reach the river level the other side.
Our first peek at the river, as the gates open up.
The weather was kind to us, not the rain that had been forecast, but rather grey and hazy so not good for photos, not that that made any difference to the number I took.
Looking up river, that's the way we're going today,
and looking down river, with the office blocks of Canary Wharf just visible through the mist.
The first boat to come past us, Redoubt, which we later saw pulling two large barges from the waste depot further on.
Rotherhithe Tunnel ventilation chambers, there is one each side of the river here.
The  Prospect of Whitby pub which we saw yesterday from land, looking rather diminutive alongside the newer buildings.
You have to remember to keep a watch out behind you here on the Thames. Hope Ian's spotted  that big catamaran!
First river crossing to pass under is the most famous of all, Tower Bridge, but doesn't it look tiny beside the newest skyscraper of London, the Shard.
Just before we got to the bridge a tug came past us towing a very big barge. It made quite a lot of bumpy bits in the water. I had to hang on tight to our handrail at the front.
We let it get past us giving us a clear run for Tower Bridge, Ian was determined to go under the centre span this time, he rather regretted taking the safe option last year.
So he lined us up ready and through we went.  There was such a lot of traffic about along this stretch, it was quite rough at times, causing a bit of pitching up and down and a bit of splashing into the front well deck.

Rather a lot of grey in this picture! Passing HMS Belfast, with the Shard behind.
Another 'tall one' rising up on the other side of the river.

The Golden Hind looking like a ghost ship between the  riverside buildings on the south bank.
Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world in this ship between 1577 and 1580.
The Millennium bridge leading from St. Pauls to the Tate Modern, the people walking over like tiny ants rushing across.
Just about the best view to be had of St. Pauls behind the other buildings.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the other side.
Approaching Blackfriars bridge.

Past the OXO tower.

And the RNLI station.
Cleopatra's needle an Egyptian obelisk was made in Egypt for the Pharaoh Thotmes III in 1460 BC, making it almost 3,500 years old. It is known as Cleopatra's Needle as it was brought to London from Alexandria, the royal city of Cleopatra. You can read more about it here.

And then to Westminster and the first sighting of the Houses of Parliament.

With the Millennium Wheel or London Eye on the opposite bank.

Lots of trip boats here, perhaps not the best weather today for river cruising. Not for paying passengers anyway, our trip was free.
Fire boat rushing past,  we also saw River Police patrolling the waterway.
I had to include County Hall once home to the GLC and where Ian's first job was.  The building now is a hotel and home to the London Aquarium.
Boadicea in her chariot.  An 1850 bronze sculpture by Thomas Thornycroft commerating Boudicca (also known as Boadicea), queen of the British tribe known as the Iceni, who led an ultimately unsuccessful revolt against the Romans in AD 60-61. An interesting local legend has it that Boudicca is buried beneath Track 10 at King's Cross Station.

As we passed the clock tower, big ben was striking the three quarter chimes. You'll have to imagine that bit.
Looking along the Palace of Westminster, no MPs sunning themselves on the terrace today.
The Union flag flying at half-mast in honour of Maggie.
St. Thomas's Hospital, I should imagine a view across the river would make a stay here much more pleasant.
Lambeth Palace, but no sign of the new occupant, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

MI6 building home of the Secret Intelligence Service.
Vauxhall Bridge has 4 bronze statues on each side, on the downstream side are the ones designed by Alfred Drury representing Science, Fine Arts, Local Government and Education.

 Battersea Power station building, being developed into housing, apparently very popular and already selling fast although there's not much to see there yet.

Hope these cranes get to stay.  There are not many signs of the working life of the Thames left.

I shall have to save the rest of the photos for another day, and do some catching up. We got to Sunbury on Tuesday and then Ian's Uncle came over for the evening, hence no blogging.
We have kept moving as the forecast as been for rain and we didn't want to get caught out on the Thames with strong flows causing red boards to go back up.  And with our aim of getting on to the K&A we wanted to get to Reading.  Which we have done today, but after some heavy rain last night the Kennet is running very fast. Tonight we are moored by the prison and will assess the river situation in the morning.

Limehouse - Sunbury
27.5 miles, 3 locks


  1. Great trip you two!!

    Really enjoyed the pics.. I missed half that stuff last year. I gonna have to do it again just to get the pics into the gallery!!

    Enjoy the K&A but watch out for Fobney lock it is a bit broken according to NB Chance who is a day or so ahead of you.. Perhaps a phone call to CRT for some help through?

    1. Thanks Sue,
      We have been keeping any eye on Chance too.
      Tackling the Thames seems quite tame compared to you exploits. Have enjoyed following your journey too.

  2. Great Pics, of your trip through London, we hope to do the same later this year. Hope you are settled at the gaol, its a nice mooring and quiet as you are in a town.... Hopefully we will meet you sometime on the K&A perhaps on our return? Sounds like you have at least a weeks wait now they have closed county lock, we only just got through yesterday before they closed it, although it was running very fast then, we just hope we don't get too much more rain!!! We will follow your journey with interest, enjoy your time in Reading....

  3. Many of these photos are similar to those in my own gallery, though I took them from a rather larger cruise boat! I think NB Tacet must feel very small on such a large and busy waterway; a bit like riding a bicycle up the M1! Well done Ian for taking the centre span of Tower Bridge. I wish I'd been there to witness it :)