Capital City Kayaking

The annual Jersey Canoe Club visit to the Tower Hamlets Canoe Club is always an enjoyable weekend and this year was no different.  The contrast between the rugged coastal scenery of Jersey and the urban architecture of London is always fascinating and this was another paddle which was not to disappoint.
There is always something exciting about kayaking through the heart of London, particularly if you spend most of your life in a more rural setting.  It can be quite challenging due to the speed at which the tide flows and the density of the other river traffic but in terms of similar paddles this was quite relaxing.  For some reason there were very few boats moving on the Thames and because of the tide times we managed to complete the paddle in daylight, not always easy in the middle of winter.
If you haven’t paddled through the heart of one of the great cities of the world then it is highly recommended.
Launching at Tower Hamlets can be very entertaining, depending upon the height of the tide.  At times some imagination may be required.
Approaching Tower Bridge.  It has been interesting to watch the Shard start to dominate the London skyline over the last few years.
This 1004 feet (306 metre) high building designed by Renzo Piano, can be seen from almost anywhere in London.  It is currently the tallest building in the European Union  and a visit to the viewing platform is on the list of things to do, in a future visit to London.
The Old Billingsgate Market was built in 1875 and at one time was the largest fish market in the world.  In 1982 the market was relocated to the Isle of Dogs but the original market remains a distinctive building on this stretch of the River Thames.
Paddling past Westminster and the Houses of Parliament is always a memorable event.
Chelsea was as far upstream as we ventured on this particular day.  Lunch was sought out at a local watering hole.  Very pleasant it was indeed.  You can’t go wrong with a full English breakfast and a pint of good bitter.
 There are numerous bridges across the Thames on London, with some such as Tower Bridge having very distinctive profiles.  This one is Albert Bridge built in1873.  At the right hand end can be seen the former toll booths, this is the only bridge in London whose toll booths have survived.
 Built in the 1930’s Battersea Power Station is the largest brick building in Europe.  I can’t help thinking about Pink Floyd every time I paddle past Battersea as I was fortunate enough to see them in concert in 1977 on the “Animals” tour.  It featured on the album cover.
From underneath the derelict cranes, which were used to unload the coal which was transported to the site on colliers, from north east England and south Wales.  This must have been a busy location as at the height of its power production it was using more 1,000,000 tons of coal per annum.  Electricity finally stopped being produced here on the 31st October 1983.