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Ten unusual sights to explore along the Thames for London Rivers Week

By
Kmccabe
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Go exploring on… The Thames Foreshore

Slimy, mucky remnants of London can be found lurking here – the city’s longest archaeological site, visible at low tide. You need a proper permit to go ‘Mudlarking’  for historical finds, so take a guided tour of the foreshore with Thames Explorer instead.
Meet at the Millennium Bridge 12.30pm. Embankment. Jul 16 and 30. £10. Book ahead: www.thames-explorer.org.uk.

Travel under water in… Greenwich Foot Tunnel

Enter the shaft (said the actress to the bishop, etc) and walk this 1,217ft cast-iron tunnel stretching beneath the Thames. Descend at the entrance in the green glazed dome beside the legendary Cutty Sark in Greenwich, and you’ll emerge at the lush Island Gardens on the other side of the river.
Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Cutty Sark DLR.

 

Shadwell Basin

Try kayaking in… Shadwell Basin

When it catches the evening summer light, this shimmering trap of flat water reflects east London on its surface. Wild swimming is prohibited here (put your shirt back on), but you can go for a kayaking or sailing class with the Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre. Shadwell Basin. Shadwell Overground. Kayaking from £30.

Take a tour of… Billingsgate Roman House & Baths

Hidden beneath the cobbled paths where the City boys tread in Square Mile, these ancient ruins of Roman baths date back 2,000 years. It’s not easily accessible to the public, but the Museum of London are now running one-hour tours of the site if you fancy a nosey.
101 Lower Thames St. m Monument. Until Nov 26. £8.

 

Prospect of Whitby

Stop for a pint at… The Prospect of Whitby

Stare out on to the rust-toned ripples of the Thames from this rickety 1520s Wapping tavern. Look out for the hangman’s noose swaying by the back window, a replica of the Execution Dock gallows . If you’re in the mood for a creepy pirate pub, the Prospect will have you hooked.
The Prospect of Whitby. Wapping DLR.

Take time to listen at… ‘Longplayer’

Climb the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf to hear a tune that will be playing long after you’re dead and gone – no, not ‘November Rain’ – this is a 1,000-year-long composition by The Pogues’ guitarist Jem Finer. Comprised of 234 singing bowls, the Longplayer Live instrument will not complete its relaxing song until 2999, and can be heard at listening posts around the world.
Trinity Buoy Wharf. Canning Town DLR. Free.

Meet some wildlife at... Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

More than 12 miles of London’s rivers have been ‘rewilded’ in recent years, and Greenwich Peninsula, bounded by a loop of the Thames, is another restoration success story. Bats, butterflies, herons and other wildlife thrive in the urban wetlands of the Peninsula’s Ecology Park – a four-acre woodland, marsh and meadow rolled into one zen space.
Greenwich Peninsula. North Greenwich tube.

 

Steve Pocock

Get your feet wet at… Chiswick Eyot

This tiny, uninhabited island lies parallel to Chiswick Mall. Shaped like a Viking longship, it’s a tangled pocket of green that sprouts out of the Thames, and is accessible at low tide for adventurers who wander across the riverbed. To protect the Eyot ecosystem, local conservationists are asking visitors to explore it on designated days. Visit the Thames 21 website for the latest dates and remember: always check the tide times to avoid getting stranded. 
Opposite Chiswick Mall. Chiswick rail.

Cycle up to… The Thames Barrier

The silver gates of the Thames are not just for show. These bad boys create a moveable flood barrier that protects us. Cycle along Section 3 of the Thames Path to watch the sun set over this towering aquatic structure.
Thames Barrier. Woolwich Dockyard rail.

Crossness Pumping Station

Christine Matthews

Have a ‘shit’ day out at… Crossness Pumping Station

A beautiful example of Victorian engineering, Crossness is a cathedral to sewage designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who helped eradicate cholera from the city (cheers Bazza!). Sniff it out at their next open day, Sunday July 9.
Crossness Pumping Station. Abbey Wood rail. Jul 9. £6. 

London Rivers Week runs from Monday June 26 to Sat Jul 1, with a series of events exploring the city's waterways, great and small. Find out what’s on in your area at www.thames21.org.uk/londonriversweek

Love the Thames? Love films? Check out our Movies on the River event 

Not a fan of getting wet? Don't worry, there are plenty of other unusual things to do in London  

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