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29 August 2007

Standing waves at London Bridge

I have heard that at certain states of tide a standing wave forms just down river from London Bridge, where the river is shallow. Until now, I had never seen much more than a single small wave near the bridge's support columns but last night was the real thing.

A group of seven of us set off from Wapping at 19:00 and headed towards Westminster, as low water London Bridge was predicted for 21:34. At Tower Bridge we crossed the river to the Surrey (south) side and as we paddled close to the bank from Hayes Galleria to London Bridge we noticed significant waves in the centre of the channel. There was a lot of river traffic about, however, and we assumed this was just wash. We continued our trip as far as a small sandy beach just shy of Waterloo Bridge where we usually stop for a five minute break before turning around.

When we paddle back with the tide we usually keep a little further out in the channel to make the most of the flow so when we came under London Bridge we found that the waves we had seen earlier were still there and we were right in the middle of them. We enjoyed a roller coaster ride through a wave train from the bridge to London Bridge City Pier that was rather like paddling through a small tide race.

The time was about an hour before low water and there was a slight easterly wind which probably helped to hold the waves up.

24 August 2007

Greatham Bridge to Pulborough

I had been waiting for summer to try another family canoe trip but it has taken me this long to realise that summer 2007 has been canceled and not merely postponed.

Greatham Bridge is a good launch spot for adults but it can be a bit tricky getting small children in and out of the canoe as the banks are steeply sloping and muddy but by climbing over the odd gate one can usually find a suitable spot. Once we were all safely aboard we headed up river against the ebbing tide towards Pulborough. I was paddling solo most of the way as my wife was too busy entertaining our youngest to help. Paddling four people against the tide is hard work and it took an hour and a half to cover the 5km to Pulborough.

The return, with the tide, was a bit easier taking about an hour and afforded some lovely views of the Downs.

South Downs from the River Arun