Okay let’s get one thing straight: I know it is not beach weather. The time for beach content has passed and it will be at least another six months before anything other than a thick coat is acceptable outdoor attire in London.
But, reader, I do not care. In July this year, I was given a mission to find South London’s best-hidden beach, supposedly located along Thames Path, but the endeavour ended in misery.
Sadly, despite it being a gorgeous summer day, these irritating things called ‘the tides’ ruined my efforts by concealing Bermondsey Beach beneath a thick layer of murky Thames water.
I was fuming. My editors berated me. My peers shunned me. But I refused to be beaten.
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Months later, hungover, bored, and with the bleach all out of my hair, I set off for Thames Path to try and rectify my mistake.
As the autumn chill turned my eyes red and my skin pasty white, I reached The Angel, a delightful little pub with a view across the Thames.
I decided not to have a pint, but peering over the ledge I spotted something that blew my mind. Despite it being mid-November at around midday, the beach was there in all its glory.
I’m not sure how the tides work because I am a journalist. But the last time I had been at the beach it had been at the same time on that summer day and there was nothing to even stand on.
This time, however, there was enough room for a whole party of people to gather on the pebbles, set up a barbeque, have a few pints, and lie on some towels.
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The view was gorgeous. From my spot on the beach, I could see the best skyline South London has to offer, including the Shard and Tower Bridge. The sky was a vivid blue and there was not a cloud to be seen.
It was, by all accounts, a perfect beach day. But there was one issue: it was offensively cold.
As I said earlier, it was late November by the time I returned to see my nemesis in all her glory, but by that time the temperature had dropped from the mid-20s to the… well mid 0s.
My breath fogged up in front of me, my hand shoved deep in my pockets for warmth, my hangover was threatening to eat me alive.
Even if the weather had been better, the pebbly beach was a) soaking wet and b) gross. The idea of getting my kit off and lying down here was not a nice one.
I strolled up and down the stretch of land available to me, admiring the view across the water, pondering whether it would ever be possible to use this as a real beach.
There is precious little information about how the tides work in such a confined area of London. But I’m assuming the tides don’t work the same way in summer as they do in winter, which would suggest the only times in summer you can access the full beach are at, like, 6am.
So even though the space was free for me to use, my dreams of a beach party in South London were simply never going to happen. But it did make a nice spot to ponder life while listening to Frank Ocean, so swings and roundabouts.
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