Thames cruises are great! You get open water, fair breeze, miles of space and sights galore along each bank. Quite a different experience from crowded shops or squares full of buses and traffic. All in all, a terrific way to see London without wearing a hole in your shoes or your budget.
7 things about the Thames...
1. Experts think that during the Ice Age, when Britain was connected by land–bridge to the continent, the Thames was part of the Rhine river system. Theoretically, if you had strong arms, you could have rowed a boat from Wales to Switzerland.
2. Thames swans aren't from around here, but arrived during the Crusades. Richard the Lionheart saw them in Cyprus, thought they were very pretty (or tasty), and had them shipped over.
3. The Tames became the Thames during the Renaissance, because learned scholars had the misguided notion that early Celts had migrated to Britain from around the river Thyamis in Greece.
4. At Kemble, near Cirencester, you can step over the Thames.
5. In Tudor times Old London Bridge was packed end to end with over 200 buildings, some 7 storeys tall, and a pedestrian might take an hour to get across through the dark and congested bridge road. For 350 years the locals liked to welcome visitors at the Southwark end by mounting heads on spikes, starting with the unfortunate William Wallace in 1305.
6. The amusing story that an American bought London Bridge by mistake, thinking he was buying Tower Bridge, is an urban myth. London authorities faced demolishing the bridge due to subsidence, but oil magnate Robert McCullough instead bought the bridge for 2.4m and happily installed it at Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1971. Locals are very proud of it, and still hold a London Bridge Day Parade every October.
7. The story that a raindrop that falls at Lechlade–on–Thames has been drunk 8 times by the time it reaches the Thames Estuary is not an urban myth. It is allegedly true that Thames water is safe to drink if you leave it overnight to let the sediment settle out, but we're not advising anyone to try.
Here's what you might see en–route:
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