CSCC Reports 2005: Thames, Greenwich to Erith, 6 February 2005

On Sunday 6 February Chris, Hilary, Peter, David Pite and Dan Jones paddled from Greenwich to Erith on a near spring ebb tide.

We launched from the stairs adjacent to the Naval College an hour or so after high water under the gaze of a sizeable audience. "They're going to drown, aren't they?" opined one little girl to her parents.

Undaunted, we set out on the rapidly falling tide which quickly took us to Blackwall Point and the Dome with its remarkable metal tree sculpture. There we paused to request the required clearance to pass the Thames Barrier, although we had the river almost entirely to ourselves and encountered very little boat traffic during the whole trip. We paddled past Tate and Lyle at Silvertown where a large ship was alongside and passed through the Barrier, a very impressive towering structure from close up on the river. A little further along Woolwich Reach we paused again as the Woolwich Ferry crossed ahead of us.

Following the river as it turned North East we became aware that we were close to London City airport when a small passenger aircraft took off just in front of us. From this point the river widens and takes on an exposed, estuarine character. We passed scenes of industrial dereliction and maritime decay, sewage works, wind turbines, mud flats, electricity pylons, waste disposal sites, power stations, a nature reserve and modern housing. Conditions were calm for most of the way although we ran into some small waves at one point.

By the time we got to Erith, and a distant view of the Dartford Bridge, the tide had dropped so much that hundreds of metres of very gloopy looking mud separated us from the shore. Fortunately there was still enough depth of water to reach the end of the long wooden causeway and emerge dry and clean in time for very welcome tea and jaffa cakes at Hilary and Peter's house. Recommended as an interesting and enjoyable urban paddle.

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All images ©2006 CSCC / Chris Stephens / Peter & Hilary Lawrence