Tidal Thames: Shadwell to Gravesend

From THCCwiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search


The river widens considerably East of Tower Bridge, so currents in this section run more slowly, and there are also fewer obstacles. Access to/from the shore remains patchy because of the large tidal range.

The landscape also changes radically. West of Greenwich, you know you're in the capital, with familiar landmarks everywhere and promenading tourists staring down at you in bewilderment. East of Greenwich, you might recognise the Dome, the Woolwich Ferry (still running !) and the M25 road bridge - but the rest is increasingly anonymous and spread out. It's still an engaging paddle, though ! The 40K run between Shadwell and Gravesend is a THCC club favourite.

2k map Greenland Dock
River South, HW+-3. Entry point to the river via exposed steps down to sandbank 3m above CD, hence often submerged, and access not very easy. Plenty of (unrestricted) parking in neighbouring Rope St, by the ferry terminal.
2k map Millwall Dock slipway
River North, 24hr. Former shipping entrance to the Millwall Dock, now converted to a slipway, and with easy access off Westferry Road. Parking restrictions 08:30-17:30 Mon-Fri, but OK at all other times. The dock entrance has a curious floating barrier across it, but with a flattened section at the downstream end that you can just paddle over. Sailing dingys from the neighbouring Sailing Centre launch from here into the river.
River North, 24hr. Easy access slipway alongside the friendly Rowing Club, whose members are regularly seen training up and down this stretch of river - albeit "facing the wrong way".

Parking restrictions 08:30-17:30 Mon-Fri, but OK at all other times.

River North, 24hr. Public slipway with easy access via Manchester Rd. Parking restrictions 08:30-17:30 Mon-Fri, but OK at all other times.
River South, 24hr? Access to shingle beach via Lovells Wharf. Parking nearby in Pelton/Enderby streets.
River North, 24hr. Slipway down to a broad sand and shingle beach with a remarkable 150m of river frontage. London's answer to "Paris Plage" perhaps, and a tempting spot to sunbathe among the broken glass and

lorry tyres. Although a nice launch and landing spot, access from Manchester Road is a bit more fiddly (drive in to unload, then drive back to park). Parking restrictions 08:30-17:30 Mon-Fri, but OK at all other times. Probably the best access point for Bow Creek, being just 2K from the entrance.

7k map The Dome - Point Drawdock
River South, 24hr. Gentle sloping foreshore on this bend in the river, just West of the Dome. Acccess to the water is good (and especially handy for Bow Creek) but car access and parking very poor! Approach by road on the A102 Blackwall Tunnel approach (Northbound) peeling off at the very last moment into the turnoff for prohibited vehicles. Follow this to a barrier which is normally unmanned and can be raised by hand to get access to the foreshore (Drawdock Road) for unloading - but not for parking.
8k map (Bow Creek Entrance)
River North. Not an access point, but the junction of the tidal River Lea leading to

Bow Locks, and the gateway to a complex network of waterways known as the "Bow Back Rivers" (see Bow Creek). This is an interesting area to paddle, but do be aware that there is virtually no access over the banks for the first 4K off the Thames - and no chance at all at LW. So think before you enter !

Downstream from here, river access to/from the shore gets progressively harder ! There are a number of temporary landing spots where it's possible to get out and stretch legs, eg:
On sandbanks exposed around LW, eg just West of the Flood Barrier (North bank)
On some sloping banksides around HW, especially where these have been stone-lined as at Gallions Reach and Barking Reach (East of Woolwich, South bank)
On occasional slipways, such as Erith Yacht Club, (just East of Erith, South bank - road access only via locked compound AFAIK !)

Erith Town Ramp offers an all-tide-states public causeway downstream of the yacht club. Postcode is DA8 1QY (Erith High Street) (thanks to ChrisS).

There are also a few emergency climb-out possibilities on to gantries of one sort or another (eg Woolwich Ferry terminal North). However, in general, there is so much mud piled up along the banks that access is only really possible close to HW, and only in isolated places. So be prepared to paddle all the way through !

24hr access via yacht club slipway on classic waterfront. Parking nearby, also cafe, toilets. Launching also possible off the beach at all but the lowest tides. This spot is a nice way to visualise the transition from river to sea, being now 700m across and with large vessels passing through. A group of working tugs is often stationed just offshore.