London Diary – Boat Race on Thames and Pub Crawl

Mar 19, 2016

Rowing is a popular sport in UK and I, will get to have a proper experience on this very day.

Thames is the setting for multiple boat races during the year, taking place today is Head of the River Race. Is it the precursor, or warm up, for the legendary Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race that is to take place exactly a week from today? In any case, HRR starts at University Boat Race Stone at Mortlake and finishes at Putney Bridge. Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race will run the same course, but in reverse order.

We easily found a spot on Putney Bridge. Thames, wide and broad at this stretch, is picturesque. Near the north end of the bridge, there are All Saint’s Church, Fulham Park, Fulham Palace and Bishop Park; south end of the bridge, there are St Mary’s Church and Putney High Street.

Along with a small crowd, we watched excitedly from the bridge as the first group raced to the finish line. First team came in with a lead, then second, and third… It was thin at first and then it became a steady stream that continued on with no sign of stopping. The river became a busy hub of coming and going. One boat after another raced to the finish line and those that had crossed the finish line would turn around and row on along the south bank, at ease this time. Interestingly, most of the steerer were women and all crew members seemed as young as late teens or early twenties.

We walked off the bridge to stroll along the south bank where we met the rest of the onlookers, a much bigger crowd. Some brought their picnic; some watched from the balconies of various rowing clubs. Some crews stopped and off-loaded at the docks located right there, others rowed past.

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While River Walk on the south of the river continued on, we stopped at Hammersmith Bridge. Back on the Fullham/Hammersmith side of the river, it was time for the pub crawl. Set amidst the residential area between Hammersmith Bridge and Chiswick Pier, there are some interesting riverfront pubs. Near the bridge, you’ll find Blue Anchor and Rutland Arm right next to each other; further down the road westwards, Black Lion, The Dove and Old Ship. Here is a website with further details, http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/where-to-watch-the-boat-race. It is expected these pubs and the river front will be packed for Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

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