New Challenges

The website has sadly been neglected in the last year or so since my last attempt to row the Atlantic.

My interest lately has focused on attempting to traverse the 220 miles or so along the Thames from the source to the sea but also to increase my knowledge of the many and varied historical facts of people and places that this great river has to impart.

The dispute about the source of the Thames rumbles on, but I think that most historians settle on the head of the Thames being at Trewsbury Mead just west of the Fosseway close to Kemble Airfield near Cirencester rather than the Seven Springs that run into the river Churn near Cheltenham.  I assume this is because the Springs start much higher up and are farther away than the traditional Thames source.  I decided to look at where the river Churn meets the Thames at Cricklade, for myself there seems no contest as the Churn is narrower and shallower than the Thames.

I started in 2017 by walking the first part of the Thames to Cricklade some twelve miles away from the source.  The river starts as a dry bed and although does eventually have water there really is not enough to put a boat in.  Then from Cricklade to the town of Lechlade where parts of the river  are navigable I took my blow up kayak,  the advantage here is  that  I could drag the kayak over reeds and fallen trees when I was unable to paddle.  In 2018 the George Geary, my Atlantic rowing boat went into the river at Lechlade and 45 locks later I arrived at Teddington Lock, the last lock before the Thames becomes a tidal river. 

Graham then retuned home to Thurmaston with his boat until he could continue his journey. The final stage meant applying to the authorities in London with his Passage Plan. Once approved Graham returned the boat to Teddington in October 2019

Timings for the row were now critical as Graham had to wait for the tide to turn so he wasn't rowing against the strong current and upon reaching Chelsea he was only allowed to row between 6.00pm and 6.00am.

Once the tide had turned Graham began his row passing The Palace of Westminster, the London Eye, under the Millnniun, London and Tower Bridges. All of this at night in order to avoid other traffic as well as pontoons and piers. Throughout this part of the challenge Graham had the help of friend Peter Fleming who acted as navigator, a condition of the passage plan.

For the next two days Graham rested at St Katherine Docks Marina alongside the 'Glorian'a the Queens rowbarge and 'Havengore' a ceremonial vessel best known for carrying the body of Sir Winston Churchill as part of his state funeral.

Once rested Graham set off for the final leg of his journey from Tower Bridge to the open sea, a row of some 10 days whick took him past the O2 and through the Thames Barrier to Westcliffe-on-Sea where he moored at the Essex Yacht Club, Southend - the End.


The Last Challenge - The Source to The Sea - The Khaggavisanna

Toby Wallace Tragedy - The Puffin Transatlantic Row - Contents