During the summer of 2018 I went on all the scheduled river services on the Thames in London, which was a lot of fun and a good way to explore the city. But it took quite a long time and during those hours watching the riverbank glide by I wondered if there was an optimum route that covered all the piers in the minimum time.
It was a bit like the Tube Challenge in which urban explorers try to visit all the tube stations on the London Underground network in the shortest time possible, as described by that article on Wikipedia. There are similar versions in other cities, such as the Subway Challenge in New York.
You can see videos of it - such as this and this - and it looks fun though hard work. So I thought about whether they'd be an equivalent for the river. Googling "Thames Clipper Challenge" didn't seem to come up with anything so I decided to invent one.
I decided to limit it to the Thames Clipper routes as they run all year round unlike the scheduled services to Hampton Court and other upper river piers. I also excluded the tourist boats as I've never been on one and have no idea what they are like.
This gives the following list of piers:
- Wandsworth Riverside
- Plantation Wharf
- Chelsea Harbour
- Battersea Power Station
- St George Wharf (Vauxhall)
- London Eye (Waterloo)
- London Bridge City
- Canary Wharf
- Doubletree Docklands
- Greenland (Surrey Quay)
- Masthouse Terrace
- North Greenwich (The O2)
- Woolwich (Royal Arsenal)
The Thames Clipper Challenge is then to:
- Visit at least once all piers served by a Thames Clipper vessel
- A visit involves arriving or departing from the pier by a Thames Clipper vessel
- The time starts when the gangway is raised at the first pier
- The time ends when the gangway is lowered on the last pier
- It is allowed to go between piers on foot but not use any other forms of transport
- A visit is a scheduled stop but it's not necessary for the vessel to actually moor up for those piers where there aren't actually any passengers (like a request stop on the trains as per the All The Stations rules)
- It is not necessary to get out at each pier
The day I chose to do this was the shortest day of last year. i.e. 21st of December 2018.
But where to start and what route to take?