Sunday, 4 January 2015

Walk of the Week – Thames Beachcombing

Every Sunday we’ll pluck just one walk from the vast London Walks repertoire and put it centre stage.

You can check out the full schedule at

But if you only take one walking tour this week, why not make it…

Thames Beachcombing

10:00a.m Saturday 10th January 2015

Meet at Mansion House Tube Exit 1

Ah, yes. Our Beachcombing walks. They give satisfaction. In heaping measure. Ok, let's see them steadily and see them whole. 

1) By walk's end you'll be the proud possessor of a mediaeval roof tile or two (we use ours for candle holders when give a dinner party - conversational pieces don't come any better) and an Elizabethan clay pipe (or two). And perhaps something even more extraordinary. Something Roman. Or even Mesolithic. In the words of a Guardian journalist, "two hours later and muddy of boot, we headed happily for lunch, our pockets full of pieces of London's history." 

2.) You're walking on the bed of the River Thames. Gives you a completely different perspective. London - the bridges, the buildings, the foreshore, the Thameside walkways, etc. - look different from down there. 

3.) They've got lots of wonderful "recess" moments. Recess moments as in being at school. Remember? The surge of bliss and excitement when teacher's just announced, "ok, time for recess" and you charge out to the playground . To play. Well, "recess time" - playtime - on a London Walks Beachcombing Walk is when Fiona, having pointed something out, explained it, given you a real life, real place, real object "power point lesson", says, "ok, recess time." Well, she doesn't put it in those words - she says "ok, going to turn you loose for a few minutes on this stretch, let's see what you can find. You pick up something that looks interesting bring it back to me and I'll tell you what you've got, timeline it for you. Good hunting." 

4.) Kids love them. 

5) Great guide. "London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour" (New York Times). Fiona's a professional archaeologist. She's the world's leading expert on this stretch of the foreshore. She's the archaeologist the Department of Environment usually calls on to handle the Inter-tidal Archaeology strand of their River Day projects. 

5.) Consummate archaeologist professional that she is, she makes sure it's done right, from first to last. Right down to issuing everybody with a new pair of protective latex gloves. 

6.) The Beachcombing Walks are the only London Walks in the programme that I would go on every single time if I could. Let me try and underline for you how special the experience is. 

Put it this way (it's david here, I wrote this after the last one I did). I'd estimate that maybe 150,000 people a day move along there and glance at that stretch of the beach. None of them will have seen what we saw - even though they were looking at very same chunk of foreshore we were "probing". Surely recommendations don't come any more 24 carat than that!

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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