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The River Thames: A Guide to Exploring the River

The River Thames: A Guide to Exploring the River

The River Thames is a river that flows through Southern England through to London. It is known as the longest river in England, and the second longest in the entire United Kingdom.

Wildlife in the River Thames

The River Thames is 215 miles long and there are environmental qualities that make the river all that more interesting. There is over 120 species of fish, and whilst it is rare, there have been sightings of 'dolphins' in the Thames. However, experts have said that most sightings were more than likely a harbour porpoise. In addition, as of 2019, the river is home to 932 harbour seals and 3,243 grey seals. The BBC also reported findings of seahorses indicating an increase in the waters quality.

In September 2018, a beluga whale, named Benny by the locals, was seen living in the River Thames for three months, up until January where it was predicated that he went back home with the fish stock. He was first seen in Gravesend, Kent. He became somewhat of a figure for the locals who were benefitting from Benny through selling whale merchandise and producing a 'Benny Beer' in his honour. A firework display that was due to take place November 2nd 2018 was postponed in order to protect the rare beluga whale.

Exploring the River Thames

There are different ways that the River Thames can be explored and enjoyed. The first obvious method is by boat. There are various Boat Trips that run on the Thames, which you can book, ranging from dinner cruises to speedboat tours. If you are looking for a more engaging activity, you can canoe or paddleboard.

Alternatively, the River Thames has a 184 mile national walk that follows alongside the river. For hikers who are interested in completing the trek, it is estimated to take around 14 days (with a couple rest days) at a total distance of 294km. It is also a gentle trail which means that it is suitable for new hikers, though the length may be difficult. It is always suggested that you take a map of the River Thames.

If you are looking to explore the river on a more in depth level, there are many towns, cities, and villages that sit alongside it. Just outside of London, you have Windsor, where you can discover Windsor castle. You are able to walk alongside the river and participate in tours, events and boat trips. Why not try Oxford, with its famous libraries. For a more scenic route, Marlow allows you to walk through history with its historic streets. You can walk down to the suspension bridge, spanning across the River Thames. 

Freight on the River Thames

In the United Kingdom, the River Thames is the busiest inland waterway. The Port of London Authority is the UK's largest port, handling over 45 million tonnes of cargo on a yearly basis. They have employed more than 40,000 people. They contribute large amounts of money to the economy each year, with an estimated £3 billion each year. The River Thames is Britain's busiest inland water way. It is estimated that it deals with over 5 million tonnes of goods, and 10 million passenger journeys.

Port of London Authority have professional and experienced pilots who have guided more than 11,000 ships in 2020, even during the pandemic. They run Britain's biggest Port Control Service that overlooks the movement of 230,000 commercial and leisure vessels every year. They also remove 200 tonnes of driftwood and rubbish from the river to protect the wildlife from harm.

5 Facts about the River Thames

  1. The River Thames is one of the cleanest rivers in the world to flow through a major city. To support the knowledge that the quality of the rivers water has improved, in the 1950's the Natural History Museum declared the river biologically dead as nothing would have been able to survive in the Thames. The notion that it is now one of the cleanest rivers showcases its improvement.
  2. Two Thirds of London's drinking water is provided by the Thames after it has been treated and filtered.
  3. The Doggett's Coat and Badge is the prize and name for the oldest rowing race in the world. It has been held since 1715 and it hosted on the River Thames.
  4. Along the 215 miles the river stretches, there are over 200 bridges that make it possible to cross the river.
  5. Built in 1982, the Thames Barrier, is London's defence against flooding. It is the second largest flood barrier in the world.

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