Did you know you can go kayaking in London on the River Thames? And not just any old part of the river, you can kayak right up to the London Eye and Big Ben.
This is something that had been on my bucket list for a while, but you know how when something is on your doorstep, you always say you will do it, but just never get round to it.
Well, I had a friend visiting London so I
The experience is with a company called Kayaking London and they carefully decide when to set off by looking at the tides. What I mean by that is, the time and date you set off
Do you need experience to go kayaking in London?
No experience is needed, it’s pretty easy. There are two guides who will teach you everything you need to know, plus the water is pretty calm. You will wear a lifejacket just in case, although chances of falling in are pretty slim. You would be quite special if you did.
Logistics for Kayaking in London
- Start/finish: Cremorne Riverside Centre in Chelsea.
- Distance: Roughly 6 miles.
- Time: 2.5 hours, including briefing and setting up.
- What to bring: Comfortable shoes (ie trainers), a
water resistantcamera ( water resistantto protect from any splashes). As for clothing, you get pretty warm when kayaking, but be mindful of the time of year. In winter, maybe take a wooly hat and jumper. Waterproof clothing is provided.
- Points of interest: Albert Bridge (actually, lots of bridges. But this is the best one), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London Eye.
- Difficulty: Easy.
Companyused: Kayaking London. You can make your booking here.
Now, it’s time for the good stuff…..
Kayaking in London along the River Thames
We arrived at the start point at around 6:30
Well, the guides were actually pretty cool and there was no issue.
There is a changing room facility where you can store your stuff/valuables (this gets locked when you head off). Then pick out your waterproof clothing and kayak.
The kayaks are two person, so if you don’t have a friend with you, you will be sharing with a stranger. This could be risky. You will be stuck with this person for two hours so it’s probably best to take someone that you know…..and like.
If you go with your other half, then be warned. They don’t call these the divorce boats for no reason.
Getting onto the River Thames
Next, you carry your kayak down to the water.
Anyway, once you are both settled in your kayaks, you are given a little push onto the river and you’re off and away.
You can have a little paddle practice as you wait for everyone else to get in before heading off east along the river.
Kayaking under beautiful London bridges
The first bridge you go under is Battersea Bridge, this is just to warm you up for the next one. Albert Bridge.
Albert Bridge is one of my
I love walking over Albert Bridge, so much so that I wrote a little guide about a Battersea Park riverside walk which takes you right over it.
Next you pass by Battersea Park, and then under Chelsea Bridge where you will then get a cool view of Battersea power station.
Fun fact: Chelsea Bridge used to be called Victoria Bridge. It was not very structurally sound, so it
Avoiding River Thames traffic
You are not the only people on the Thames. You will be sharing the river with other boats. Namely, the Thames
You kayak as a group and your guides will direct you on where you need to be. When you need to switch over to the other side of the river and which part of the bridge to go under.
When a big boat passes by, it does create a little wave action (I mean the water gets choppy, not that people wave. Although you could wave to them). These are the only slightly choppy bits of the journey.
A history lesson along the Thames
Along the journey, your guides will tell you interesting facts about the areas you pass by. But you know what fascinated me the most?
I am from London, and I have lived by the River for a long time and on this day whilst kayaking, I saw something I had never seen before.
I mean, I figured people fish on the parts of the Thames outside London. But in London, right in the centre. Now that was news to me.
Do they eat these fish from the river? River fish. Hmmmm. I’m going to pass on that one.
Kayaking up to Big Ben and the London Eye
You pass under a couple more bridges before reaching the big stuff. The stuff which makes this kayak experience so unique. Big Ben and the London Eye.
These are two landmarks
As I am from London, I have seen these structures many times from all angles. Including from on the river, on a boat. But nothing was quite like this.
Seeing the London Eye, from down low as it loomed above was pretty damn cool.
(Slightly less unique, but another great way to see these landmarks is from Waterloo bridge which you can find out more about on my Westminster walk.)
You get to mill about here for a bit, taking in the sights (and photos from every angle). It was starting to get dark, and I was using my GoP
Kayaking back along the River Thames
You then kayak back along the way you came, seeing everything you saw earlier from a slightly different angle.
As it was now dark, we got to see Albert Bridge all sparkly and pretty.
Then once you reach the kayak centre, you finish off with the hardest part. Carrying your kayak back up the slope. It’s only a short way up, so don’t worry.
Final thoughts on Kayaking in London along the River Thames
If you are looking for a really unique way to see the sights of London, then this is the one. I mean, how many people can say they have kayaked to Big Ben and the London Eye?
Oh, and you wanna hear a small world story? A week after this I went kayaking in Sardinia, and the guide there knew my London kayaking guide. Must be some sort of kayaking community where they all know each other.