In a preview of the forthcoming issue of BRITAIN magazine, we meander down England’s greatest river, from a tame trickle in rural Gloucestershire, through beautiful and historic towns, and all the way to the heart of the capital
There are many ways to see the Thames, not least the wonderful Thames Path National Trail, which runs alongside it, stretching 184 miles along its stretch. You can also take to the river itself, whether you hire a rowing boat at Henley or charter a sedate heritage launch at Richmond, it’s a relaxing and refreshing way to see the river and the beautiful sights that line its banks.
Of course the most spectacular section of the Thames covers the same area as The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant did in June this year. The two great powerhouses that for many years kept London working, first Lots Road Power Station in Chelsea, and then, across the river, the unmistakable silhouette of Battersea Power Station with its four soaring chimneys, herald the start of an incredible stretch of the river.
Beyond Battersea central London and its world-famous landmarks unfolds, familiar but always exciting. A great way to see the sights in style from a perfect vantage point is to take a tour with City Cruises, who offer sightseeing cruises as well as special trips with lunch and tea, dinner, or a sunset sailing with champagne and live jazz on board.
You can explore all the way up to Greenwich, around the O2 Arena and towards the Thames Barrier, without which every high tide would put London at risk of catastrophic flooding. An impressively futuristic sight, the Barrier comprises nine steel piers like upturned boat keels, with gates that lie on the riverbed to be raised when needed. Here the Thames Path ends, with an exhilarating view over the river as it spreads its wings for the final stretch, flowing into the estuary and to the North Sea beyond.