If you’ve just started mudlarking it can be useful to have a list of Thames foreshore access points. This post lists all the best places to access the foreshore of the River Thames at low tide.
When researching this post I checked that all the points mentioned were in areas where you can mudlark with a current foreshore permit. Each place also has either stairs or a ramp that is in good condition.
Locations of Thames Foreshore Access Points
Greenwich is an interesting place to explore the tidal Thames foreshore since it was once home to Greenwich Palace (1498–1694). Most of the objects discovered in Greenwich have some connection with the palace, and the people who lived and worked there.
On the foreshore in Greenwich you can see a line of wooden posts that were thought to have been part of the medieval jetty that once belonged to Greenwich Palace. Many items discovered in the riverbed here have been linked to the palace, including cooking pots, utensils and pottery.
The riverbed in Greenwich is also covered in animal bones, not only from domestic animals like sheep, goats and cows, but also wild animals like deer. Deer antlers and boar tusks have been found in the Thames mud at this point, since during medieval times there was a large park behind Greenwich Palace.
Below are four access points onto the Thames foreshore in Greenwich.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Greenwich
1. Near the Thames Barrier
Location: Riverside, Greenwich, SE7 7SS.
Information: Just up from the Thames Barrier. The steps onto the Thames foreshore are behind the Anchor & Hope pub.
2. Next to the O2
Location: Drawdock Slipway, Olympian Way, Greenwich, SE10 0JH
Access point: Right next to the O2.
3. Enderby’s Wharf
Location: Telegraph Ave, Greenwich, SE10 0TH
Access point: The gate to the stairs is sometimes locked.
4. Royal Navel College
Location: Thames River Path next to the Royal Navel College in Greenwich, SE10 9NN
Access point: The steps onto the foreshore are right next to the Royal Navel College. Please note that this access point is very close to a section where mudlarking is not permitted (at the former site of Greenwich Palace). The image below shows the area marked in red where no digging, metal detecting, searching or any other disturbance is allowed.
Below are two access points onto the Thames foreshore in Lewisham.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Lewisham
1. Watergate Street
Location: Watergate Street, Lewisham, SE8 3JF.
Access point: Walk all the way to the end of Watergate Street to find the stairs leading down onto the Thames foreshore.
2. St George’s Square
Location: St Georges Square Lewisham, SE8 3PD
Access point: The stairs are at one end of St George’s Square on Deptford Wharf.
Isle of Dogs
The Isle of Dogs is where metal ships were made in the 19th century. Please note you are not permitted to mudlark on the Great Eastern slipway, as this is a Scheduled Monument.
Below are two access points onto the Thames foreshore on the Isle of Dogs.
Thames Foreshore Access Points on the Isle of Dogs
1. Newcastle Drawdock
Location: Newcastle Drawdock, Glenaffric Ave, E14 3BW
Access point: There is a very wide access point leading down onto the river bed.
2. Johnson’s Drawdock
Location: Johnson’s Drawdock, Ferry St, Isle of Dogs, E14 3PS
Access point: This location is next to Poplar Rowing Club.
Until the 1950s Limehouse was London’s Chinatown, an area famed for its taverns, opium dens, and cosmopolitan sea faring community.
In the eighteen century it was filled with ships bringing cargo from overseas. Many of the items found here belonged to sailors, and people employed to unload the ships. They include clay pipe stems, glass bottles and everyday objects like buttons and buckles.
Below is an access point onto the Thames foreshore in Limehouse.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Limehouse
1. Ratcliff Beach
Location: Ratcliff Beach, Narrow St, E14 8DL
Access point: The stairs are at the end of Narrow Street where it meets with the Thames Path.
In the 18th and 19th centuries this part of the river Thames was covered in wharves and docks, and the river was densely packed with boats and ships. Many of the items discovered on the Thames beaches in Rotherhithe provide historical evidence of the merchant ships that once sailed here.
Below are six access points onto the Thames foreshore in Rotherhithe.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Rotherhithe
1. Earls Sluice
This point is close to Greenland Dock which is London’s oldest riverside wet dock.
Location: Earls Sluice, Princess Crescent, SE16 7TY
Access point: There are steep steps next to Greenwich Pier
2. Pageant Crescent
There is a set of rotten wooden stairs at this point which lead to a stone causeway. This is where a boat once ferried people to the north side of the river.
Location: Pageant Crescent, Rotherhithe, E16 5FX.
Access point: The stairs are at the far end of Pageant Crescent next to blocks of flats.
3. Sovereign Crescent
Location: Sovereign Crescent, SE16 5EF
Access point: The stairs are at the far end of Sovereign Crescent.
4. Hanover Stairs
Location: Next to 141B Rotherhithe St, SE16 5QT
Access: Hanover Stairs lead down onto Rotherhithe Beach. The stairs are in good condition.
5. The Mayflower Pub
Location: Rotherhithe St, London SE16 4NF
Access point: The staircase is next to the Mayflower pub. At the bottom of the stairs there are wooden beams to climb over to access the foreshore. I recommend walking round to Hanover Stairs as it’s much easier to access Rotherhithe beach from there.
6. The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe
Location: King’s Stairs, Next to 1 Fulford Street, SE16 4NW
Access Point: These stairs have hand railings on both sides, however the stone at the bottom of the stairs is very slippery. The stairs are found directly next to The Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe.
Wapping is directly opposite the Mayflower pub in Rotherhithe. John Rocque’s map of London from 1746 shows that this area was filled with taverns, brothels, wharves, warehouses and narrow alleyways. The map also shows many staircases leading down to the river.
By Victorian times there were 36 taverns on this stretch of the river Thames, but today only 2 of the original taverns still exist: The Prospect of Whitby and the Town of Ramsgate.
Below are three of the old narrow, cobbled passageways onto the Thames foreshore that still exist.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Wapping
1. Prospect of Whitby
Location: Pelican Stairs, Wapping Wall, E1W 3SH.
Access point: The stairs are right next to the Prospect of Whitby pub. There is no handrail but there is a wall on one side.
2. New Crane Stairs
The New Crane Stairs appear on Morgan’s 1682 map of the whole of London.
Location: Near 167 Wapping High Street, E1W 3NQ
Access point: New Crane Stairs are at the end of Wapping High Street where it meets with Garnet Street.
3. Town of Ramsgate
Location: Wapping Old Stairs East, Wapping High Street, E1W 2PN
Access point: The stairs are right next to the Town of Ramsgate pub
Bermondsey is historically an area of docks and wharves. This area in particular tended to be where ships were made and repaired. Many of the items found here in the river were tools of different craftsmen.
This was also where spice and tea was offloaded from ships into huge warehouses. In the 19th century Bermondsey was an area of crippling poverty, and one of the worst slums in Victorian London.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Bermondsey
1. Bermondsey Beach
Location: Bermondsey Wall East, SE16 4TT
Access point: There are two staircases leading onto the Thames foreshore from Bermondsey Wall East.
When the Romans first settled in London the south side of the river was a marsh with small islands. They chose one of these small islands for the south side of their bridge, but for centuries this side of the river remained an uninhabited marshland.
Until Westminster Bridge opened in 1750, there was only one bridge linking the south shore with the City of London. This meant the area became isolated from the City, and fell under the authority of the Bishops of Winchester whose palace was on the south side of the river.
The Bishops of Winchester permitted activities that were forbidden in the City of London. This lead to the south side of the river being filled with brothels, inns, and places to watch cockfighting or bear baiting. Many items found in the river mud in Southwark were remains of these infamous inns.
Below are three access points onto the Thames foreshore in Southwark.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Southwark
1. Bankside Beach
Location: Founders Arms, Southwark, SE1 9JH
Access point: There are two sets of stairs close to each other. One set of stairs is outside the Founders Arms pub, and the other is further towards Millennium Bridge.
2. Blackfriars Bridge
Location: Blackfriars Bridge on the south side of the river
Access point: There are two sets of stairs by Blackfriars Bridge. One is located directly to the right of the road bridge and the other is two the left.
3. Oxo Tower
Location: Oxo tower Wharf, Queens Walk, Southwark, SE1 9GY
Access point: The stairs are on the riverside path in front of the Oxo Tower.
Below is an access point onto the Thames foreshore in Lambeth.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Lambeth
1. Gabriel’s Wharf
Location: Gabriel’s Wharf, Upper Ground, London SE1 9PP
Access point: The stairs to the west of the Oxo Tower, near the Southbank Observation Point.
Please note that the north side of the Thames has some restrictions at this point. This area is marked in yellow on the image below. If you are mudlarking here you can use your eyes only. Digging or any surface disruption is not permitted. No mudlarking is permitted at all near Queenhithe Dock, marked in red below.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in the City
1. London Bridge
The Romans built the first crossing over the river Thames around 2,000 years ago about 20 yards downstream from where London Bridge is today. This is the most likely place on the Thames to discover Roman artefacts.
When the original bridge was dismantled in 1831, hundreds of Roman artefacts were unearthed in the river mud. This included metal statues of Roman deities, brooches, pottery, rings, Roman coins, weapons and tools.
There are also lots of oyster shells on the riverbed at this point. This is because oysters were a major food source in Victorian London, and the shells were often discarded into the river.
Location: Fishmongers Hall Wharf, EC4R 9EL
Access point: The stairs are on the same side of the bridge as Fishmongers Hall. This section of the foreshore has restrictions. All surface disturbance and digging is prohibited.
2. Millennium Bridge
The stairs on the east side of Millennium Bridge are where Trig Lane once existed. For this reason they are known as Trig Stairs. At the bottom of the stairs you can see the original Victorian steps that would have led down to the riverbed.
Over the centuries the river Thames has narrowed, and in medieval times the riverfront was around 50 feet further inland from where it is today. In the 1970s the remains of some medieval river stairs were discovered by the Museum of London close to this point.
The land levels in the City of London have also risen by roughly one foot every century. This means Roman remains are buried around 20 feet underground, and Victorian remains about 1 foot. Many discoveries have been found at this point including knives, buckles, keys and gold rings.
Location: Trig Lane Stairs, Paul’s Walk, EC4V
Access point: The stairs down to the foreshore are steep and there is no hand rail.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Westminster
Location: Thorney Stairs, near the junction of Millbank and Thorney Street, SW1P
Access point: The location is in between Vauxhall and Lambeth Bridges.
Below are two access points onto the Thames foreshore in Wandsworth.
Thames Foreshore Access Points in Wandsworth
1. Battersea Bridge
Location: Battersea Bridge, London, SW11 3BZ.
Access point: The steps are on the east side of the bridge.
2. Putney Wharf
Location: Putney Wharf, Brewhouse Lane, SW15 2JX
Access point: The ramp is right next to The Boathouse pub.
Map of Thames Foreshore Access Points
All the points I mentioned in this post are plotted on the map below.
Useful Information for Mudlarks
- A Guide to Mudlarking on the River Thames – contains everything you need to know to become a London mudlark.
- 3 Best Mudlarking Books – my favourite book is Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem
- Mudlarking Under Millennium Bridge – this was my experience on a tour with Thames Explorer Trust
- River Thames Foreshore Standard Permit Permissions – this map shows what is allowed with a mudlark permit.
- Thames Tide Times – the Thames is a tidal river so be sure to check the tide times and weather conditions before you go. It’s also always a good idea to be aware of your exit points incase the tide rises quickly.
- Portable Antiquities Scheme – a scheme run by the British Museum to record archaeological finds discovered by the public.
This Post was a List of Thames Foreshore Access Points
I hope this list of Thames foreshore access points was helpful to you. I’m aware that there are many more that I have not listed here. If you know a good place that you think should be listed, please leave a comment below.
Remember to take sensible footwear, like walking boots, if you go for a foreshore walk. The Thames riverbed can be dangerous with sharp objects like pieces of glass, hypodermic needles and other potential hazards.