The proper Summer time may be gone, but temperatures are still pleasant, so it may be the perfect time to try one last water-based activity with your dog for the season. We tested the dog-friendly rowing boats in Richmond, West London, so you can bring your pooch along for a sail.
Dog-friendly rowing boats in Richmond
Before the Summer, we visited and tried the dog-friendly rowing boats at Hollow Ponds in East London, with Lloyd the Italian Greyhound Whippet cross. The location is not too convenient if you live in West or South West London, so we thought to tell you about a West London alternative in Richmond upon Thames.
Richmond Bridge Boat Hire, which – as the name suggests – is located under Richmond Bridge, welcomes dogs of all sizes and has a fleet of boats of different sizes available, that one can pick depending on the number of their human and canine crew members.
Our dog adventure on a rowing boat
A couple of weeks back, Paul Simon the Old English Sheepdog from Cambridgeshire, his owner Danielle and I went to check out them out. The outcome of our sail was very positive: Paul Simon did not jump/fall into the Thames, no oars were lost, no capsizing happened and we had some very good fun!
I had called Richmond Bridge Boat Hire’s crew ahead of our visit, and they recommended a particular time to take advantage of the most favourable tide. They also confirmed that for a group of three like us there was no need to book in advance.
Paul Simon, the 36kg Old English Sheepdog pup, is as sweet as he looks in photograph and has some impressive hypnotic bi-coloured eyes. When we arrived at the boat hire, he seemed enthusiastic about the river and for a moment I feared that we may end up with a swimming companion. When the time came to depart, he was a bit uncertain about getting on the boat though, but when he was convinced to get on board, he soon settled and got on patrol watching the people on the river bank.
We hired the boat for an hour, considering that it may be enough as a first time for Paul Simon. The sky was cloudy, but the weather still warm, so it was the perfect combination for dog and human crew alike.
Before leaving, Richmond Bridge Boat Hire staff explained us how to row correctly (unlike the experience at Hollow Ponds, where we were totally left to our fate) and the sailing rules (you need to keep the right hand side on the river). Between taking photos and chatting, we didn’t get too far down the river, but it was a lovely experience and on the way back we passed Richmond Bridge for a view from the other side.
If you allow more time, you can sail down the river and reach Twickenham. Richmond Bridge Boat Hire’s crew advised that most people hire the boat for two hours. Their pro tip, if you hire the boat for longer, is to sail to Twickenham and reach The White Swan Twickenham pub (where you can moor/take the boat on land) for lunch or a pint and then row back. They said that it should take approximately between 25 and 45 minutes to row to the pub, also depending from the tide.
Tips for your dog boat trip
- When choosing day and time, apart from the tide, make sure that you check the weather forecast and avoid eccessive heat for your dog.
- It may be a good idea to bring a life jacket for your dog, just in case (for a previous adventure I bought Argo a Ruffwear one you can find at this affiliate link), or a harness with a handle.
- A bowl, a bottle of water, as well as a towel, possibly in a waterproof bag, are also things to put in your bag.
Making the most out of your dog sail on the Thames
Things to do with your dog in the area
If you want to make the most out of your day in Richmond, there are many things you can do with your dog before or after your rowing boat sail. Three ideas:
- Visit Duck Pond Market, in Heron Square, every weekend (dogs welcome on a lead), about which we will tell you more on the blog.
- Go for a stroll in Richmond Park. Just remember that there are deer in the park, so keep your dog under control to avoid infamous Fenton incidents.
- Cross Richmond Bridge and go for a walk on the Thames Path (you can use this map).
- Get a dog-friendly boat ride (this time relaxing on board) towards Hampton Court Palace or towards Kew (dog-friendly services are offered by Turks Launches and Thames River Boats).
Practical information about Richmond Bridge Boat Hire dog-friendly boats
Location and how to get there
Richmond Bridge Boat Hire is located under Richmond Bridge, in Richmond upon Thames (TW9 1TH). If you take take the tube or train and get to Richmond station, it is a 10 minutes walk from there.
Cost is £8 per person per hour for the first hour, and then £4 for the following hours. Dogs, babies (“and elves”, as their sign reads), go free. They require a £20 deposit per person, so make sure you bring enough cash.
Opening times and Tides
They operate from March until October (included), so you still have a couple of months to try the experience before Autumn comes.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing the time to visit is tides. The staff is very friendly and helpful and you can call to check with them the best time to visit on a particular day.
Normally you don’t need to book, just turn out on the day. However, if you are heading there with a big group, they advise to call in advance to reserve suitable boat(s).
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