Bridges of London: Tower Bridge

Thursday, October 28, 2010 |

A trip to London enabled some nice walks over the Thames. First stop is Tower Bridge, which opened in 1894. It gets its name, you may know, because next door on land is the Tower of London, which goes way back to the Normans in the 11th Century. But we focus on the bridges. This is one of those iconic bridges that can't be missed. The Tower Bridge connects the City of London, near the financial district, with Southwark (pronounced something like "SUTH-erk").

This is a bridge better suited for its majesty than for its bridge walking challenge. The base part of the bridge is very close to the water, perhaps 25 or 30 feet high. It is a draw bridge so most river traffic can pass. The bridge accommodates both vehicles and pedestrians. The bridge has a high part between the two towers, roughly 130 feet or so above the water, that can be traversed on foot. I figured at least that would give a height challenge, but I hadn't known that it was enclosed. Bridges are, of course, meant to be crossed in the open air. Otherwise, they are like bridge tunnels. The views are nice up there on the upper level, but being behind glass takes away much of the thrill. So, a low scariness rating for height. And the bridge is very short, maybe 0.2 miles long, as the Thames is never very wide in London. The side supports are nicely solid, though not overly high, somewhere between waist high and chest high. But overall not very scary at all, getting a combined scariness rating of 5.5 (1.5 for height, 3 for width, 1 for length).

Regardless, the views off the bridge are enjoyable. Looking towards the east, one can see down the river and to other bridges that cross the Thames.

As I said, this bridge should be enjoyed for its majesty. How many bridges make you feel like you're entering a castle? The bridge is getting something of a face-lift currently, as a major painting job is underway that is supposed to be finished around the time of the Olympics in 2012. There was a lot of scaffolding around. The bridge itself might be closed to all traffic for some time in 2011, so we got lucky to be able to cross at all.