It's nice to take a stroll by the river Thames as it goes through its rather sleepy business waddling and flapping past Richmond, and it's also nice to ride your bike along the river bank, but what's even nicer, on a warm, sunny day, is to take to the water itself.
There are a couple of ways to get out on the river, but the best way is to hire a skiff, or other little craft and to have yourself a row.
There's a hire place on the town side of Richmond Bridge called Richmond Boat Hire (they don't have a website, but they do have a phone number, it's 0208948 8270), which has some lovely looking little crafts, some of them in the Venetian style, with velvet covered benches with wrought iron backs. So that while the rowers sit on wooden benches doing all the hard labour the 'guests' are transported along in comfort. Though, of course, most of the fun comes from rowing.
They don't really offer you any lessons, but they do give you a brief safety chat and explain how to use the oars if you look unsure. If you feel like you'd like a buoyancy vest they'll provide one, but the river is relatively safe at this point, so there are plenty of people who go without – but that could be to do with their rowing prowess rather than their swimming prowess. But the best part of the service is surely that if you stray too far downstream and can't propel yourself back up you can give them a call and they'll come out and tow you in using their motor boat.
The main thing you need to consider is which way to row: Upstream on the way out from the pontoon is obviously better, 'cause it means you can just drift back. It's good to know that the nice boat boys will come and get you if you need it, but it's better not to have to call on their services.
Kids, but not tiny kids, are welcome and they have boats that seat three, four, five and six.
Row, row row your boat gently down the stream.. if you see a crocodile, dont forget to scream. I dont think you have crocodiles in the UK. It looks like a pleasant and healthy way to spend an afternoon.
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer Thursday, 26th of May @ 10:40 am
Definitely no crocodiles. Just ducks, geese, swans and the odd heron.