Twice a day, the Thames in London swells with tidal water, rising as much as 23 feet. And as that great daily gush tumbles through the ancient channel, it tosses up centuries of junk. A little over a century ago, pollution wasn't a concept; to our ancestors, the world was inexhaustible, the river was God's gift to flush away the animal bones and excrement and used-up crockery of our days. <br /><br />And when that great churn of water departs the city again at low tide, it leaves behind newly exposed visitors from the past. Believe it or not, it's possible for tourists like you to descend to the beaches of the Thames and pluck out the remnants of centuries past during the precious few hours in between being unburied from the muck and being swept forever out to the sea. <br /><br />It's called <em>mudlarking</em>, and it's probably the most exciting way to discover London that I've ever experienced.&nbsp;Here's how to do it.

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Aerial view of an orange overcast London through a rain speckled glass pane

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Dating from the 17th century, Charles Fort was garrisoned until 1921.

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