Continuing our exploration of Europe’s rivers, let’s take a closer look at the Thames.
Like the Danube and the Rhine rivers, the Thames has seen a lot of history. When you stop to think of all the explorers that must have traveled up the river it is staggering. How many times have Kings and Queens traveled the river either escaping London or returning to it?
The Thames begins its 210 miles journey deep in the Cotswold’s. It is here the wee stream starts its passage through some of the most beautiful countryside in England then cutting through the center of London before finally reaching the North Sea.
Along the trip, there are 45 locks all of which are in the non-tidal portion. It is in this section of the Thames that you will find 25 species of fish alone.
London is in the tidal portion of the river with tides rising and falling up to 23 feet!
There are 20 tributaries feeding the Thames, 80 islands along its path and a huge variety of wildlife due to the existence of both seawater and freshwater. In the river you will find salmon, brown trout, chub, perch and flounder. Along the shores you will also find a wide selection of birds making the Thames a great place for bird watchers.
The Thames has supported humans for thousands of years providing water, transportation, commerce, food and fun. It has also shared in the history of England and has been featured by writers, filmmakers, artist and musicians.
Today, there are many ways to enjoy the river, so let’s explore a few ways you can spend time on this amazing river.
- Sightseeing tours are a great way to spend time on the river as well as see some of the amazing sights of the city along the rivers banks. This is no exception for the Thames where you can enjoy sightseeing cruises on the Thames in both London and Oxford.In Oxford you could opt for a lunchtime picnic cruise or sunset river cruise where you can enjoy splendid tourist sights including Christchurch College and Meadows, the University boathouses and regatta course, the Head of the River and Folly Bridge. If literature is more your fancy then you might want to consider the Alice in Wonderland tour which follows the same route Lewis Carroll took when creating the beloved tale almost 150 years ago.
Along the banks of the Thames in London are many of the legendary landmarks including Big Ben, Tower of London and St. Paul’s cathedral. If your speed is a little quicker than the normal sightseeing river cruise, maybe you should consider the Thames RIB Experience. Enjoy the Thames in a speedboat! You will be provided all the gear necessary to keep you dry and the PA system is so good there is no reason to slow down to give the commentary! Cover more in 1 hour on this adrenaline filled ride.
- The Thames is a great place for boating of any kind. Whether you want to canoe, row or sail you can do it here! There is a boat for any budget and any length of time. Imagine cruising or gliding past some of the most beautiful villages England has to offer. There are excellent connections along the way to hotels, pubs, restaurants and even campgrounds.
- Literary history abounds along the shore of the Thames. From Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Kenneth Grahame, TS Eliot to HG Wells. They have all received inspiration from the river. Reading, Mapledurham, Henley, Sonning, Marlow, Windsor and Maidenhead are all villages along the Thames where these writers have either lived; went to school or were just plain inspired by a visit to this amazing and beautiful river. Why not spend some time following in their footsteps? Who knows what inspiration you may find!
- The Thames Path is a 184 mile walking path that follows the Thames from its beginning in the Cotswold’s to its end at the ocean. Along the trail you will pass quaint villages, peaceful meadow and historic towns before finding the North Sea. The path is meant to be explored as you wish whether it is for a few hours to a day, multi-day trips or along the entire length. This mostly flat trail is accessible for all walkers of all ages and abilities. Of course, along your journey you will run into much wildlife including rabbits, weasel, mute swans, ducks and coots. If you love to walk and enjoy the outdoors, this is the way for you to spend time along the river!