An ait, also known as eyot, is a small island, especially within the River Thames and its tributaries. These small islands known as aits are islands formed by deposits of sediments in the water that has accumulated over a long period. An ait is generally long and narrow and may transform into a permanent island if it is well-secured and protected by vegetation cover. If not protected, most of these small islands erode due to the actions of the water, with the sediments further downstream or used to form another ait. Certain channels known as braided channels are channels with numerous aits.
The River Thames is an English river that flows through the southern parts of England including London. It is the longest river flowing entirely in England, measuring approximately 215 miles. The river flows through Oxford where it is referred to Isis. It rises at the Thames Head in Gloucestershire and empties into the North Sea through the Thames Estuary. It is fed by over 50 tributaries.
Examples of Aits in the River Thames
Raven’s Ait is a small island in the Thames River located between Kingston, Surbiton, and Hampton Court Park above the Teddington Lock. This island can be accessed using a ferry from the Queen’s Promenade. Up to 1911, the Raven’s Ait hosted Kingston Rowing Club. Today, the island is privately owned and run as a catering facility and is also a preferred wedding venue.
Garrick’s Ait is on the reach above Molesey Lock with Moulsey Hurst as the nearest land. This ait is approximately 330 meters upstream from Tagg’s Island, another island on River Thames. Garrick’s Ait is historically divided into 26 plots and has 20 houses. Two of the plots have been mooring space and tress. The ait was named after David Garrick and is the only island in the UK named after an actor.
Sunbury Ait is a small island adjacent Sunbury Locks. Although this island is unpopulated, it can be accessed by a footbridge over the lock that cuts through a wide section of the Thames Path. It is also linked to the Wheatley’s Ait by a walkway but this walkway is closed to the public. The Sunbury Ait is covered by trees, brambles, and ferns. It is also the location for a private boat mending yard known as Middle Thames Yacht.
Wheatley Eyot is an island approximately 8 hectares located on the reach above Sunbury Lock. Its long downstream part has several residential properties, mooring, and dredging facilities. The northern part of the island is linked to the Sunbury Lock Ait by a footbridge over the Sunbury Weir. The downstream has several houses and chalets that can be accessed by a footbridge from the residential road.