The original plan of a new years eve paddle was abandoned, mainly due to the weather but it was difficult matching known good parking and launching places with the tide. River Thames Kayak
Instead we launched new years day from the Rowing club at Gravesend and paddled up with the Flood, no real destination planned, but would turn round at high tide and return to Gravesend on the ebb. The pontoon at the rowing club allows easy launching except at the very lowest tides. Parking is available a short walk away in the old swimming pool car park reasonably cheaply River Thames Kayak
On the adjacent beach were a flock of Swans who immediately came over to see us (no doubt expecting food !)
After launching, we started our trip upriver, just after the Rowing club are the buildings and Jetty of the Port of London Authority. The Gravesend RNLI boat is also berthed here.
The Royal Terrace pier was originally built for the great steamships of the past, but now is used exclusively by the PLA
It is only a short distance further that you will come across Gravesend Town Pier, this the oldest cast iron pier in the world. It was built in 1834 when Gravesend was a popular resort for Londoners; it’s recently been fully restored and is now a restaurant and bar – though still with public access for those who want neither food nor drink
Continuing up the Thames, you soon arrive at Northfleet, here behind the industrial inner city views lies a curious history. For those interested heres a link to a Wikipeadia article
There is an old harbour at Northfleet which has now received attention as a project for redevelopment.
Our Journey took us on up past Greenhithe, visibility was deteriorating and alongside Ingress park we stop for a snack Christmas cake and hot blackcurrant. It was approaching high tide and with visibility down to 200 meters it was a good time to turn back.
As darkness fell over the river we switched on our lights, nothing fancy or complicated just an LED ‘head torch’ attached to the PFD.
Not a particularly good photo, but it does show rather well how visible you are with a light.
In fact the river had been rather busy all afternoon, I had been monitoring the Port VTS on chanel 69; A large Tug boat past us in the main channel and called us in to VTS advising them of two kayakers on the water adjacent to Northfleet creek. They mentioned we were OK and ‘had lights on ‘ I called VTS and gave them our destination and ETA, who then requested an ‘Arrival’ comfirmation when we had landed.
On this occasion I had not given a paddle plan, (in fact we really did not have one ! ) however where the estuary widens and I will be crossing the shipping lines then I will normally call VTS for a sit rep with the traffic. In fact in all my dealings with London VTS they have been absolutely helpful and communications pleasant.
It was fully dark when we reached Gravesend, The duty officer from the Port of London greeted us from their Pier, he told us he had heard us on the VHF and decided to ‘check us in ‘ It was a ‘nice gesture’ and this interest in our safety is always appreciated.
As I logged off with VTS we saw the Swans from our launch had all settled on the Rowing club Pontoon, (sorry the picture is pretty useless ) we decided to let sleeping swans lie … fortunately the tide was still high enough to allow us to use the beach.
A very enjoyable trip on the river at the start of the new year