V Messing about in Boats

Britain has waterways of all sorts.

Not just canals, but lakes, streams and rivers of all sizes .

Its most famous river the Thames is the main artery of southern England.

Upstream , as it winds its way past Windsor Castle, the Thames is a clear, placid river greatly enjoyed by boat lovers.

Each year a great social event is held at Henley, a regatta which has been going since Victorian times.

By the time the Thames passes London it has become a major thoroughfare .

You can take a boat and go downstream to Greenwich, the birthplace of both Henry VIII and Elisabeth I.

In Greenwich Park is the Royal Observatory.

This is where Greenwich Mean Time comes from: the standard by which all the world's time zones are set.

Looking down from it, you get a fine view of the Thames.

Britain's two ancient universities Oxford and Cambridge were built on the banks of rivers, the Isis and the Cam.

In both places you can see people drifting along the river in punts , apparently quite effortlessly .

But be warned ! It's trickier than it looks.

And unless you have a good sense of balance it's easy to end up in the river.

On the subjects of boats and waterways no account would be complete without mention of a lake, 24 miles long in the Highlands of Scotland.

This of course is Loch Ness.

Over the years many people claimed to have seen what appears to have been some kind of prehistoric monster in the dark waters of the Loch: though their descriptions of it tend to vary greatly from being covered with warts to being black and shiny with four humps .

The hunt for Nessie has become a worldwide obsession and a national joke.