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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.