Our London Ring trips have been very popular in 2015 and at the moment we are still the only Hotel Boat licensed to do the tidal stretch of the Thames between Limehouse and Brentford.
There are 2 optional starting points for this trip – Little Venice and Kingston, the latter taking us a few miles further on the River Thames.
We have made 4 circuits this year and have been blessed with good sights in good weather, apart from the lousy wet day in late August when it poured for most of the trip. Gordon said that it only seemed to ease up while we were under the bridges!!!
On 3 of the 4 trips, we started from Kingston upon Thames travelling down from Teddington and turning into Thames Lock at Brentford. There is an immediate change in the character of our surroundings, as well as the reality of operating manual locks again. We are occasionally blessed with the attendance of voluntary lock keepers but in the main it is DIY.
The Hanwell flight has been a pleasing experience again although some of the gates do seem to have gained a few pounds or maybe we are just getting more tired as the season progresses! The lock free section is a respite for the crew and some guests have even looked forward to reaching Camden and resuming lock wheeling duties.
Most guests are surprised on reaching Little Venice that we have moored close to the entrance to the underground station. Ben said “The taxis don’t get you as close as this and it is remarkably quiet”.
On reaching our mooring at Battlebridge Basin, some have taken the opportunity to spend more time at Camden market whilst others have visited the Canal Museum as well as other local attractions.
As we progress through Islington Tunnel, the light reflects ahead of us, giving the impression of floating in mid-air, something that is peculiar to this particular tunnel. Margaret said “It felt like the boat had been lifted out of the water”.
All guests have thoroughly enjoyed the variety on their trips. Camden Lock has been as colourful as ever and Limehouse has shown the mixture of various sailing craft. The Paddington Arm, Little Venice and Regents Canal have been almost full of “Continuous Cruisers”, a topic of conversation on all trips.
Whilst moored at Limehouse, guests have visited The Tower of London, the Olympic Park and The Grapes historic pub.
The delights of travelling through central London on the Thames are immense and everyone has marvelled at the sights and sounds. On one trip it was particularly choppy, but Dawn said ”I’m not going inside, I’m sitting out here at the front and won’t miss a bit of it, even though I have got a wet bum”. That’s dedication!
One of the main sights we see is Tower Bridge which had been opened for one of our passages to let a sailing ship through. We took advantage of this by going through the opened bridge. A real rarity!
We see the Tower of London, the new City Hall, The Shard, The Gherkin, HMS Belfast and the London Eye. The reconstructed Globe Theatre is diminutive amongst the surrounding buildings and tower blocks. Big Ben has favoured us with chiming on each occasion as we passed by and we are not allowed to say that we passed the MI6 building!
Whilst out on our travels we came across the book “The London Thames Path” by David Fathers. Guests found this book really helpful pointing out the various sites from the River as we travel upstream. We wonder how many photos have been taken of Kailani, especially from Millenium Bridge.
The river becomes much quieter after Westminster Bridge, but there is still much to see, including Chelsea, Fulham FC stadium, the Boat Race course and part of Kew Gardens. The river also becomes less choppy, and, given good weather, it’s when most guests are outside.