Londoners do have access to a beach, in fact quite a few of them but they are not the usual golden sands and shingle of our British coastline. At certain points along the banks of the River Thames, when the tide goes out you will find little patches of heaven.
If you are city bound and longing for a closer relationship with the sea or at least the River then the best thing you could do is to get a tide timetable or check online for when the tide will be low or starting to go out. This will give you longer to spend on the beach either making sandcastles, yes it is possible and in quite a grand way or to go ‘mudlarking’ along the strand line or at the shore edge.
The river has a lot of history and tends to throw up some fantastic finds, everything from the very common broken pieces of old pipe that have their own story to tell to small pieces of pottery and even coins and I’m talking ‘old’ coins which can be quite valuable. Sometimes it is worth getting these items checked out for their importance and value, you never know what you may have. I have picked up a number of items like this without much effort. Taking these along to the Museum of London can be interesting.
During the winter the beaches have a completely different feel to them, they are often empty, solitary places with a lot of atmosphere, great for making moody images especially with pinholes! The summer is very different especially when it is festival time along the Southbank. The beach in front of Gabriels Wharf is great for making sandcastles and often there are people who are obviously aloud to construct really big sand sculptures, you can watch them from above and throw money in their pot!
In front of the Royal Festival Hall and surrounding the Festival Pier upto the BFI area the group “Reclaim the Beach” have also held parties on the beach with stages and music, it’s a fantastic atmosphere. Don’t miss it this summer!
Be sensible on the foreshore and make sure you know where your nearest set of steps is if you get distracted and the tide has come in! The Thames is now one of the cleaner rivers in Europe but it’s fast moving so paddling isn’t an option if it’s coming in.