Adventure is Out There: Night-time kayak under Tower Bridge

kayak under tower bridge

So who knew that you could kayak on the Thames? Just amazing. So much fun simply to be doing the kayaking itself, and then endless opportunities for selfies and Instagram shots as we passed various London landmarks. What more could you ask for?!

Limehouse
Do you think that penthouse flat is available…?

The evening was organised by Secret Adventures. I discovered them early last year, and went on my first adventure back in September. That really was a super-secret adventure, with a group of us meeting up at a building in London and then cycling out to an undisclosed location, hiding our bikes in the bushes, and swimming across to a teeny-tiny island where we then spent the night under the open sky. Then a few weeks ago I went on a spectacular adventure up in the Arctic Circle – more to come on this soon! And now this night kayak on the Thames.

Kayaks on land
Feeling just a little foolish as we got into the boats on dry land in order to adjust the foot rests…

We met up under the bridge at Limehouse, which is in itself a gorgeous area of London that I’ve never explored, with some very nice flats positioned around the little harbour. We were given waterproof jackets and not-so waterproof trousers (I had a VERY wet bum when I returned…) along with life vests and lights for when it got dark. Oh, and a paddle each, very important. We were shown the basic paddling technique and then trouped on down to the water where the boats were waiting for us.

The water was surprisingly choppy, and every time a large boat went past, the waves would roll towards us. The boats, though, were very stable and we were assured that we would only tip over if we really tried hard to do so. Phew! But I put my iPhone in a ziplock bag just in case…

Pointing towards Tower Bridge
Destination: Tower Bridge!

We paddled away from Canary Wharf, getting into a sort of rhythm until we started to approach Tower Bridge, at which point the pace of the group slowed as everyone got out their phones and cameras. What is an adventure if you can’t take photos to put on Facebook, eh? After getting some good shots, we were told to keep paddling so that we would make our dinner reservation at The Mayflower. We tied up our kayaks and precariously climbed over and up the fire escape to this restored public house that dates back to the 16th century. There we had a well-deserved stodgy meal and a drink out on the terrace with views up and down the river. The journey back was a little tougher, as we weighed down the boat after the meal and went back up to Limehouse against the tide. Trying to paddle onto the narrow ‘beach’ was a hilarious exercise in itself, especially as we’d been told to keep the noise down due to an angry neighbour…

Tower Bridge
Actually going under Tower Bridge, as promised in the name of the adventure! We also went under London Bridge which, thankfully, was not falling down…

“Sa, say pour lay tourists sa,” said a man disdainfully when we entered the pub. (I can only assume that he was, in fact, talking to tourists, unless he just likes to speak bad French to his fellow Londoner friends.) Well, lucky tourists, then, I say! It’s such a shame if you don’t explore all that your city has to offer simply because you’ve been living there for so long. I’ve loved rediscovering London these past months. I even took a rickshaw on Friday night, so there!

Kayaking under Tower Bridge
Just… spectacular.

The other great thing about these types of activities is the people you meet. By definition, and, yes, I may be biased, the people who go on this kind of adventure trip are incredibly lovely. They’re open to doing new things, often alone without knowing anyone else, and just generally interesting, friendly people. Something that is very important when you’re out in the Arctic wilderness, or spending an evening paddling a twin kayak together…

Adventure is out there! You just to have to go out and find it…

 

Check out Secret Adventures for the next night kayak and for other trips including canoeing on the canal and a wilderness survival weekend! These adventures also fund adventures for inner city kids to escape London with the children’s charity Kids Company, so there is the extra bonus of contributing to a good cause.

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