The River Thames, located in southern England, is impressive in many ways. Here are some incredible facts about the beautiful flowing river, all in one convenient resource.
The Thames: From Source to Sea
At 215 miles long, extending from its rise to the sea, the Thames is England’s longest river! It is well known for flowing through London, while it also runs through 15 other cities and towns, including Windsor and Oxford.
While the source of the River Thames is disputed, many people say it is the spring in the Cotswolds Hill, Thames Head in Gloucestershire. From its source, the river flows in a consistent west-east direction to the Thames Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean via the East Coast.
On the gliding River Thames, 44 locks exist from its source in the West of England to Teddington Lock in South West London. Interestingly, Teddington Lock was the first pound lock; it is 55 miles from the Estuary.
About The Thames Basin
The area around the Thames River is called the Thames Catchment or Basin. Its purpose is to drain the river system, which it does over the impressive nearly 5,000 square miles (4,994, to be exact) it extends across between South East and West England. In total 18 major river catchments flow along the stunning river.
As well, there are over 190 islands in the Thames! Also called eyots or aits, they reach from Kent to Oxfordshire. Many of these small islands originated naturally, formed by bends in the river that accumulated deposits of silt and sediment. Of the close to 200 islands on the Thames, only about a quarter of them are occupied.
Tributaries, Bridges, and Tunnels on the Thames
The main tributaries on the Thames include Kennet, Ock, Loddon, and Leach. There are 38 main ones, which join the extraordinary river near locations such as Wargrave, Berkshire, and Inglesham, Wiltshire. From rivers and canals to underground streams, the tributaries take many forms but they together share the task of sending water to the central river.
Have you noted the bridges? There are over 2014 of them! The Thames also has more than a dozen tunnels. The first of the underwater tunnels dates back to 1843; today, it is home to the East London rail line. Speaking of rail stations, London’s first solar powered version was built at Blackfriars in 2014.
Activities on the River Thames
Over 200 rowing
clubs regularly use the river. As well, there are more than 50 terminals used for shipping purposes.
As for aquatic life, there is an assortment along the River Thames too! For example, at the Thames Estuary, and all the way to the Waterloo Bridge, seals breed and care for their young.
The estuary also has dolphins, which are regularly seen during summer and several months after, as well as porpoises. The number of otters and water voles is increasing in the Thames while the opposite is true of the European eel. Jellied eels are a regularly consumed dish in East London.
In addition, over 125 species of fish live in the Thames. At the river’s bottom are 350 benthic invertebrates, which are organisms characterised by having no backbone. In 2012, a rare creature, the short-snouted seahorse, was found in the Thames, at Greenwich.
To protect creatures along the Thames, more than 45 internationally designated Special Protection Areas and conservation regions exist across the Thames.
Have you been to the River Thames? With its natural beauty, glorious activities and a multitude of bridges and tunnels, the urban river is a must-see destination.
Now if that doesn't make you want to get out there and explore it in all its glory nothing will...