The River Thames Tides - When is the Best Time to Visit?

by Keith McGregor - Date: 2008-09-30 - Word Count: 481 Share This!

The River Thames in London is tidal from Teddington through the city and down to the mouth where it enters the sea. The tide rises and falls due to the rotation of the earth and gravitational pull of the moon. Very basically the water wants to stay at the closest point to the moon and as the World moves this causes the water to appear to move creating a tidal flow. To us it is the sea that is moving not the World where in reality it is a bit of both!

The tide affects the River Thames right up to the first lock at Teddington. This means the whole of Central London and all the boats, ships and piers move up and down as the tide comes in and out twice in every 24hrs.

In affect the tide makes the water flow up the river twice a day reversing the flow! This flow of water creates a rise and fall of around 7m, however this number changes due to many factors. With 7 meters of water flowing in and out some strong currents are created which have an affect on the river and London.

Boats are affected as when travelling with the flow of the tide they can travel much faster than if there was no tidal flow. Similarly when travelling against the tide they are slowed significantly. This affects how long it takes to get to and from places. For example a London party boat travelling from Central London to Greenwich to embark passengers at 8pm would need to leave an extra 30 minutes when travelling into the tide. This could have a knock on affect to the daytime boat hire client as they may have wanted to book for more time!

If you are trying to load a London charter boat, are elderly, or have a disability then finding out when it is high tide would be of huge benefit to your safety. At high tide the Thames is towards the top of the banks and the piers where people access the boats have almost level walkways. This is good for easily walking or carrying/wheeling heavy goods on to the Thames river boats. When it is low tide the access walkways to the piers become very steeply angled due to the fact the water level can be as much as 7 meters lower than it was at high tide.

The other major affect this has on people visiting the River Thames is that the appearance of the river is almost constantly changing. At low tide the beaches and foreshore is exposed along with the steep river walls. Some parts of the river foreshore are sandy beaches where the river meanders and has deposited sand on the inside corner. Parties have been known to be organised to take place on the beach in front of the Royal Festival Hall.

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Keith McGregor is a partner of Strawberrysoup, a web design agency with offices in Chichester and Bournemouth. Strawberrysoup specialise in creative web design, content managed websites, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing and graphic design

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