“ London Bridge crosses a narrow boating channel connecting Thompson Bay on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu. The bridge was dismantled and brought to Arizona from England. The town of Lake Havasu City won the bid to buy London Bridge and reconstruction began on September 23, 1968. October 10, 1971 the bridge was finally dedicated. „
Having left the Wild West town of Oatman, we headed down the old route 66 until it joined on to Route 95. This was a beautiful section of road and we thoroughly enjoyed this historic road especially as it took us past the lovely Topock Bay. Turning on to London Bridge Road just past Lake Havasu Airport is the best road into this lovely town, as it takes you right down the lakeside and gives you a chance to explore this area a little bit before heading into the main attraction of London Bridge.
Lake Havasu City is in Arizona but only around 5 miles from the Californian Border. The Lake is part of the Colorado River although this section was much prettier than the muddy waters that we had seen around the Canyon area. The Lake was formed when Parker Dam was built in the 1930's and is a haven for wildlife around the banks and in the water. Fishing is available with a permit and as you sit at the top of the lake you can watch speedboats in the distance, nearer the City. It is a remarkable view.
We've all heard the song, London Bridge is falling down and how it is built up with different things. Well Lake Havasu City is now home to this famous London Bridge. Robert P. McCulloch bought this bridge at auction in the 1960's for nearly 2.5 million dollars and then had it dismantled, each brick marked, and then rebuilt over the lake at Lake Havasu, creating an island on the other side that is called Pittsbugh Point. It is thought that this cost him a further 6 million dollars to do and he was a bit disappointed when it was done because, as the story goes, he thought he was actually buying Tower Bridge.
Of course none of this side of the story is told on the plaques that commemorate the man but it does make you wonder how far the Americans will go sometimes to get a piece of British history.
We decided to stop off at one of the vista points near the lake before heading to the city and the bridge. This area also had toilets although I use this worth very loosely as there were no lockable doors on them and they do not have a flushing system but instead everything falls into a pit below. In the heat of over 100 degrees, you can imagine that this was not a pleasant thing to use and I had to get my hubby to stand outside guarding it. I suspect that this area is used at night by youths who come to drink beer with their friends or to partake in other activities, as there were a lot of empty bottles and condom wrappers lying around the car parking area. Not the nicest but we were determined not to let that spoil the beautiful views of the lake.
As we toddled off down the path that takes you to a fishing platform, the area was much cleaner and there was only the occasional bottle top lying around. The sand at the banks reminded me of being at the beach although the reeds around the water edges let us know that this was an area that wildlife would love. We saw lots of different coloured bugs and dragonflies around here and the occasional rabbit too, but it was the lizards that really caught our eye here and they were daring as they darted from one side of the path to the other, dodging our feet.
There were also a lot of water birds in this area and information boards along this nature trail let us know what we could expect to see. The sun was beating down and we were very pleased to get a bit of shade at the edge of the boardwalk where we stood and watched a fisherman trying his luck. The water was extremely clear in the lake and we found it difficult to believe that this was part of the same river that we had previously seen looking murky in the red stone areas the day before. We even managed to spot a couple of bass in the water and this reminded me of the fishing game we have for the PS2. I can't help wondering if this is one of the lakes that it is modelled on.
We were reluctant to leave this beautiful area but we did stop off again right at the bottom of the lake where Parker Dam regulates the water flow. This area is again very beautiful with the lush green of trees and water reeds against a more barren landscape to the side of it, where only a lonely cactus grows. This area is also close to the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge. This area helps to protect the cottonwood and willow forest that is home to a great many wild animals and birds. It is hard to believe that such a beautiful landscape can be found so close to the Mohave Desert.
Parking is relatively easy with good areas at both sides of the bridge. To be honest the bridge isn't exactly the most impressive structure but the feel of old England round about was very quaint and as we walked under the bridge we found ourselves face to face with a dragon and St George's Cross on a shield. To make us feel even more like we were in London, we found an abundance of pigeons lining the edges of the bridge and a few ravens too.
There was also the lovely sound drifting from under the bridge of a clarinet being played and on closer inspection we found that this busker was in fact collecting for a children's charity. This all added to the gentle atmosphere as we strolled along the bank and looked into the lake below us. Again the lake was very clear and we could see more bass swimming underneath the feet of floating ducks. Neither seemed at all bothered by the other.
This area is also home to a large number of boats and many offer trips out onto the lake. Gondolas and paddleboats are also available, which we thought to be a little bit out of place but they looked like fun. We were just disappointed that we didn't actually have time to take a trip out on one. This area is known as Martini Bay and to be fair it would have been nice to stop and sip at a cool Martini in this beautiful sunshine, but with the drive ahead to Palm Springs, we didn't think this would be a good idea.
Just up the hill and at the side of the bridge there are a lot of beautiful fountains and garden areas that we slowly wandered round. You can also find the statue and plaque that tells you all about Mr McCullough and the history of the bridge. To top it all off is a truly English looking pub called The London Arms Pub & Playhouse. Here there are promises of Great Steak & Seafood, Live Entertainment and English Beer. Again, we didn't think drinking in this heat would be a good idea and we had to drive too so alcohol was definitely off limits.
This is somewhere that we had down on our list of places to pass through and see, although to be honest the bridge itself isn't that exciting to look at. The way the area has been made to look like a little bit of London though, is very quaint and we did enjoy strolling along under the bridge, looking at the fish and listening to the haunting music being played.
What really impressed us though was the Lake itself and the views that it offered. Despite the horrible car parking area just north of the city, the information boards and the seats at the edge of the boardwalk made it all worthwhile and we were able to sit back in the shade for a short time and just relax as we watched boats and jet skis race around down nearer the city area.
This area is definitely worth a visit if you're heading from the canyon down into California. Although the sun was scorching, there were a lot of places to sit in the shade and refreshment stands were plentiful in the bridge area. Although there were people walking around, it wasn't that busy when we were there and no one was rushing around so it was great to be able to have a pleasant wander without feeling like we were being pushed this way and that.
Although we didn't need a hotel here, I have been told that there are many around although the area is very popular with students between March and June so it might not be best to visit around then if you are looking for a quieter time.
This review also appears on Ciao with pictures.
London Bridge crosses a narrow boating channel connecting Thompson Bay on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu. The bridge was dismantled and brought to Arizona from England. The town of Lake Havasu City won the bid to buy London Bridge and reconstruction began on September 23, 1968. October 10, 1971 the bridge was finally dedicated.