Tuesday, November 18, 2014

London Sea Kayaking Day 2

After a welcome evening in Richmond and energy levels replenished thanks to Pizza Express we launched early on the Sunday morning.  Almost immediately we felt the impact of the flow of water, average speeds registered on the GPS was between 1.5 and knots quicker than the previous day.  This was more like it.  Familiar features passed quickly by and the consistent drone of aircraft departing Heathrow was soon a distant sound.
A quick stop at Vauxhall for our annual visit to a Portuguese restaurant for some of the best egg custards to be found anywhere and we were soon passing through the heart of London, one iconic landmark quickly following another.  All too soon it was time to cross the river and land back at Shadwell Basin, with a celebratory pint at the Prospect of Whitby before heading out to the airport.  A great way to spend a weekend.
The view from the balcony of Richmond Canoe Club, kayaks are being prepared for the return paddle to Shadwell Basin.  Already there was more current flowing than we had experienced all of the day before on the journey upstream.
I am not sure that I have ever seen a kayaking Club in the UK with such comprehensive facilities.  I am certain that if I was living in west London I would be looking to join Richmond Canoe Club.
 Paddling through London there are some superb bridges.  Tower Bridge is clearly the most iconic but Albert Bridge and Hammersmith Bridge (above) have a certain style.
 The Harrods Furniture Depository close to the river has some of the characteristics of the more well known building in Knightsbridge.
Just downstream of Vauxhall Bridge there is a slipway in the shadow of the MI6 building.  It is well worth stopping here because just across the road there is a Portuguese restaurant which serves the best egg custards anywhere.  They didn't blink when we walked in and ordered 21 egg custards to take away.
Approaching the London Eye.  This is probably the busiest section of the river and it is important to have pretty tight group control and an understanding of the actions of the commercial traffic to avoid conflict with other water users.
 St Paul's always looks great from the river.
 Approaching HMS Belfast.  It is surprising how quickly you approach stationary objects, including ships, in the the river.  Thinking ahead is an important part of safe paddling on the Thames.
 The huge crowds around the Tower of London were partly the result of the poppies to commemorate the First World War.  In previous years paddling past the Tower there were nowhere near as many people.
 Journey's end, back of the Prospect of Whitby.  32 nautical miles paddled in 2 days, through the capital city.  A must do sea kayaking trip.

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