Visiting the foreshore
Make sure you're safe and prepared when visiting the Thames foreshore...
Joining a foreshore walk
We run regular public guided walks on the foreshore, suitable for anyone over the age of 8. The foreshore can be a wet, muddy and uneven place, so you need to make sure you are prepared!
Check out our guide to the things you should know before visiting the foreshore.
Rules for visiting
Anyone wishing to search the tidal Thames foreshore in any way for any reason must hold a current foreshore permit from the Port of London Authority (PLA).
Searching includes all such activities, including searching, metal detecting, digging, or ‘scraping’.
Thames Foreshore Group Activities
Anyone wishing to organise a group activity such as a walk or guided tour which does not involve any disturbance of the Thames foreshore must first apply for written permission from the Port of London Authority – Estates Department on 01474 562358.
If the group activity involves any disturbance of the foreshore then each participant must also have their own individual Thames Foreshore Permit. (The event organiser will also need permission from the Port of London Authority – Estates Department on 01474 562358).
You must report any objects you find which could be of archaeological interest to the Portable Antiquities Scheme Finds Liaison Officer Stuart Wyatt at the Museum of London. This Scheme records all archaeological finds made by the public in England and Wales. If you believe that a find may qualify as treasure then you should contact the coroner for the district in which the object was found, usually within fourteen days of making the find. In practice many finders report treasure via the Finds Liaison Officer, which is also acceptable. The coroner or finds liaison officer will give guidance on what to do. The Treasure Act code of practice contains a directory of coroners in the Thames area.
Health and safety
We always carry out risk assessments for our activities, to make sure we are working in safe environments. We give all our volunteers a full health and safety induction as part of our training.
Key things to remember are:
- Make sure your tetanus jab is up-to-date
- Wear wellingtons or sturdy boots, and comfy clothes, that are easy to move in and you don’t mind getting dirty
- Carry only essentials and preferably in something that can get dirty.
- Cover any cuts or abrasions on your hands and feet with waterproof plasters
- Avoid eating and drinking on the foreshore, and clean your hands beforehand. Never smoke on the foreshore, including e-cigarettes.
- Never go on the foreshore alone
- Always carry a fully charged mobile phone in case you need to call the coastguard/lifeboat
- Avoid muddy areas and walk on stone or shingle
What is it?
Weil’s disease or leptospirosis is a rare but serious bacterial disease which causes liver and kidney damage and, in 5 – 10% of cases, can be fatal. It is spread in water and soil contaminated by the urine of rats, voles, and other rodents, as well as cattle, foxes and other wild animals. The disease is especially associated with urban waterways and slow moving rivers, and there are higher levels of risk after heavy rain, when drains and other areas inhabited by rats have been flushed out.
The bacteria can survive in water or wet environments for up to 45 days after leaving their host animal. Humans become infected when their cuts or mucous membranes (ears, eyes, mouth, nose) are exposed to contaminated water or soil.
Preventing Weil’s Disease
- Cover all cuts and abrasions on your hands and feet with a waterproof plaster.
- Wear waterproof footwear.
- Never touch your eyes, ears, mouth without washing your hands first.
- Wash hands thoroughly before eating, handling food or smoking.
- Wash all body areas that come into contact with river water.
- Wear gloves and use the antiseptic handrub provided by the TDP team.
- Raised temperature and/or ‘chill’ feeling.
- Pain in joints or muscles, often more pronounce in the calf muscles.
- General feeling of an influenza-like illness
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms after a possible exposure, see a doctor immediately. Tell your GP that you may have been exposed to contaminated water and mention Weil’s disease. The disease is confirmed by an ELISA blood test and is easily treatable with antibiotics in its early stages.
The incubation period varies from 2 – 21 days.
If you have any doubts contact a healthcare professional.
Information for working in tidal areas provided by the Health & Safety Executive
Tide tables for the Thames provided by the Port of London Authority