The Glitter Path

A glitter path over the Thames in London

A ‘glitter path’ is light reflected off water from a low sun, moon or other bright object.

Glitter paths help us to read water because they form a simple and beautiful clue. The broader the glitter path, the bigger the water waves. So the wider the path, the rougher that patch of water is.

This technique is used at sea when closing on land like islands to spot rough water over shallower ground. But it can also be used for fun wherever light bounces off water. Glitter paths are common on city rivers. There is a joy to watching a glitter path bulge as the wake from a boat crosses it.

My thanks to my publisher at Sceptre, Rupert Lancaster, for sending the unusual image above. There is a double reflection of the sun’s light, first off the building, then off the water. Note how the path gets fatter over the waves.

Please do send in your own examples. I will try to add the best ones here.

For more on this and other water clues and signs, please see the book, How to Read Water.


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Waterstones Interview with Tristan Gooley

The Difference Between Waves and Swell

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