Tag Archives: River Thames

Low Tide on the Thames

My expectations for my long run on Wednesday had been limited, the forecast the previous evening had been for torrential rain all day, but as I set out early there was only a hint of drizzle in the breeze.

By the time I had reached the Thames, the weather seemed a little more optimistic, a half hearted attempt at a rainbow appeared over the gritting depot by the Thames Barrier but it failed to crest the Dome, re-emerging as a little more than a smudged spectrum in Newham. It didn’t last long though as the sun submerged into the gloom of the early morning.


It was low tide with large expanses of mud, pebbles and lot of debris washed up by the river from tyres to footballs and, of course, the regulation shopping trolley or two. It was the old jetties that interested me – they always do – as I headed upstream towards Greenwich.

I stopped at Anchor and Hope Wharf, there is a wrecked boat there at the foot of the jetty which is only visible at around low water and plenty of other decaying debris from other broken up boats.


The top of the old Blackwall Peninsula, now known as North Greenwich, sees lots of sand deposited as the Thames meanders through the eastern side of the city. At low tide it is a haven for gulls and wildfowl, with large numbers of cormorants there as I passed.


I stopped again at Enderby’s Wharf, formerly home to the cable industry but the river side deserted although it will soon be the outlook for expensive new homes.


Finally, before I turned for home I passed the remains of Tudor Greenwich, the jetty for the former Royal Palace visible in the mud.


As for the run, it was about 10 and a half miles, my longest since my accident, which was good and the rain held off until I reached home.

A Spring in my Step

The skies were leaden with nimbostratus clouds as I left home and the brisk westerly wind thinned and thickened the cloud to change the colours from charcoal to light aluminium and back to battleship as I followed a fairly standard route from my repertoire – a loop edging the Heath, passing Charlton House before dropping down through Maryon Wilson Park to the Thames Barrier, following the River and then heading home back up the escarpment through Westcombe Park.


It was just over six months since I had run the route, the sky had been almost azure that morning and the colours intense in the winter sun – the two pictures of Angerstein Wharf tell a tale.


Today was an important milestone though, it was the first time post-accident that I had ventured more than a couple of miles away from home or from my car.  The pace for the 8.2 miles may have been slower than last time – 3.4 times faster than a British spring (around 9:15 pace), compared with a pre-accident speed of 3.8 times faster (8:15 pace).  The speed will come back eventually though – today was just about getting back to normal.


Short Stories of Tall Ships

Greenwich hosted the Tall Ships Regatta last weekend. There were 51 tall ships on the Thames, the majority arriving from Falmouth as part of the Falmouth – Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta having. They left Falmouth on 31 August, racing to the Needles on the western tip of the Isle of Wight before heading to Greenwich where they were joined by a dozen other ships.

They were an impressive site and apparently the largest Tall Ships event on the Thames in 25 years since the end of a Tall Ships race from Hamburg to London in 1989. It got me wondering about the history of some of the boats

Sadly, I didn’t see one of the few locally built ships in the regatta, Leila, which was constructed in Charlton, as she was moored at Canary Wharf. However, there was a real mixture that I passed on my run/walk upstream from the Royal Arsenal to Greenwich.

The Grayhound
The Grayhound was moored in front of the Old Royal Naval College and had a very distinctive sail pattern It is one of the newest of the ships in the regatta having been built in 2012. However, the Grayhound’s roots are much older as she is a wooden replica of a 1776 Cornish-built privateer – as regular readers may recall, I have covered these state sponsored pirates before in the origins of the name of the Antigallican in Charlton. The original was heavily armed but the 21st century version is a charter yacht.


The Basque schooner was built largely by volunteers in Lekeitio, midway between San Sebastien and Bilbao in the 1980s. It was originally designed to circumnavigate the world following the route of the Basque explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano – who was the leader of the first circumnavigation of the world, taking on the leadership after Magellan’s death. However, the voyage never happened and it initially became a cruise boat in the Canary Islands before more recently doing longer cruises, sail training and promotional work.


Dar Młodzieży
A Polish ship, built in Gdansk, Dar Młodzieży is a navy sail training vessel and was one of the larger ships at Greenwich, moored at Enderby Wharf and requiring a dinghy to get visitors on board. She was the first Polish sailing boat to circumnavigate the globe.


De Gallant
One of many Dutch ships in the regatta, she was built as a herring drifter and launched in 1916. She later became a cargo vessel before being salvaged and rebuilt as part of a Dutch government-aided employment scheme to provide young people with work experience. De Gallant is now a sail training vessel.


Iris was launched in 1916, initially working as a Dutch herring fishing boat, tending to work around the Shetlands. From the 1920s until 1975 she worked around the Baltic and since has returned to the Netherlands as a cruise ship.


The ‘Oosterschelde’ was built in the Netherlands in 1918 in Rotterdam, originally a freight vessel, sailing along the coasts of northern Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa. In the 1950s the sails were removed and the then the Fuglen was motorised. She was restored in 1992, she now provides a base for promotional and PR work for Rotterdam as well as being a long distance cruise ship having made a round the world trip and an expeditions to Antarctica.


Tenacious was launched in 2000 and is a wooden sail training ship which was designed and built to allow people with a wide range of disabilities to go to sea on a sailing ship. She has wide, flat decks and powered lifts for wheelchair users, as well as a speaking compass for blind and partially sighted crew members and an induction loop and vibrator alarms for hard-of-hearing crew. It is owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust and is the largest wooden sailing ship in the world.