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Canoeing - Trip Reports

Check below for some of the trips that the Canoeing section has been on. If you've been out on an outing of your own, drop a line to: Please note that trip reports are now in Recent Events

Henley to Marlow 15th October 2016

posted 17 Oct 2016, 13:57 by Sailing Secretary   [ updated 17 Oct 2016, 14:09 ]

Our group assembled at 09:00 on a dull Saturday morning, with just seven kayaks, the trailer was soon loaded and a two car convoy set off for Henley on Thames. 

The put in point was The Eyot Centre, 300 metres upstream of Henley Bridge. The centre manager had been most welcoming and generously allowed us access to the toilets and heated changing rooms. Steve was our driver for the day and having seen us off, took the trailer to our finish point at Marlow.
Once under the bridge we were soon paddling along the wide open reach of the famous rowing course, past the grandstand of the regatta HQ and " mixing it" with a fair few sculls. The weather was by now brightening and apart from a few stray clouds we had sunshine most of the trip. 

The autumn colours were developing nicely and we had the river pretty much to ourselves.  The lock keeper was on duty at Hambledon and happy to allow us through the lock, a new experience for Rob and Hugh, who were joining us for their first Minima Adventure. The extensive weirs were impressive and quite noisy, although the stream did not seem to be particularly strong. We paddled past some very impressive old houses and even encountered cattle wading in the river. We were frequently entertained by red kites displaying their flying prowess in the sky above us. 
Steve was waiting for us at our lunch stop at Hurley, a very well appointed lock, with toilets and an outdoor cafe. The portage was simple with a nice put in point below the weir.

The after lunch paddle was much shorter, past Marlow sailing club and the National Sports Centre at Bisham Abbey. Marsh Lock was unmanned and quite busy, we were joined in the lock by a large group of scouts heading for camp at the scouts sailing centre just beyond Marlow.

We finished our trip under the bridge at Marlow. This attractive  suspension bridge built in 1829, has a weight limit of 3 tonnes, however on 24th September a 37 tonne haulage lorry attempted to cross (damaged its wheels on the traffic calming measures) and caused structural damage, which resulted in the indefinite closure of the bridge to motorised transport. It's an ill wind.. as they say and we were able to park up the trailer on the closed approach road for loading. 

The weather forecast was uncannily accurate and as Steve Jim and Judy loaded the trailer the rain started. Unfortunately Kathy had already left to ferry the rest of the group back to Bernie's car at the Eyot Centre with Steve Jim and Judy's bags in the back of the car. On return to Marlow she found them sadly siting in a pub... WITH NO BEER.
 They’re so polite in Berkshire!

Inner London Canoe Safari - 18th September 2016

posted 3 Oct 2016, 04:42 by Sailing Secretary   [ updated 3 Oct 2016, 04:51 ]

Back at the beginning of the season, when we were planning our programme of  ‘adventures’, there was a lot of enthusiasm for trying some different waters and a trip into London was included on the programme. As I had never paddled the canals of inner London this required considerable planning and two enjoyable recce trips. Finding a suitable starting point where we could safely park a large trailer and several cars, was just the first challenge. Discovery of a 300 metre tunnel on our route resulted in a fairly lengthy correspondence with the helpful but thorough Canal and River Trust, and we duly received authority to pass through the tunnel.

Although there were 16 expressions of initial interest, family commitments, work, injury and the recognition that 13 miles was perhaps a little far for novices, reduced our numbers to a ‘hardcore’ quartet.

The said hardcore, Lee, Barbara, Steve and Kathy, loaded the four kayaks and set off for Park Royal. Our driver Steve skilfully  negotiated the Hanger Lane Gyratory System with the trailer and within minutes we had parked up by the canal. The level of litter was disappointing, but the wild life seemed at home, with plenty of moorhens, coots (sadly missing form the Kingston reach of the Thames this year) and herons. The first few miles of canal were pretty industrial and urban and none too clean, although efforts had been made to maintain the canal, riverbank and towpath. The towpath in particular was well used by walkers and cyclists, no doubt a welcome green corridor towards the city. We were struck by the number of houseboats and even saw tents by Kensal Rise Cemetery.

Coming into Ladbrook Grove, the standard of Houseboats and canal side housing improved and we passed an impressive display of sculptures of famous and infamous people from history. Steve managed to speak to the sculptor himself Gerry Dawson a nonagenarian, who explained the sculptures were a 30 year project of his.

In sight of Little Venice, the canal was blocked by a large electric barge taking on water at the Canal and River Trust's depot. This seemed an opportune point to take the kayaks out of the canal (locking them securely) and find a spot for lunch. Taking our paddles along we explored little Venice and the Paddington Basin discovering an ideal spot for lunch (hand cleaning hygiene scrupulously adhered to).

On return to the kayaks we made contact with one of the Trip Boat skippers and sought his agreement to our following him through the tunnel, this was somewhat grudgingly given! The canal is pretty narrow at this point and one could understand that leisure Kayakers might be an unwelcome  complication for a commercial trip boat. That being so, we switched on our lights and followed the trippers into the dark Maida Hill Tunnel. This was quite some experience, torches and headlights enabled anyone to see us, but did little to illuminate the water around and I felt the need to paddle very steadily and keep to the centre of the tunnel, I really did not want to capsize here! 

Emerging into the sunlight at the end of the tunnel, we paddled under rail and road bridges through deep cuttings and then, in an instant found ourselves, by complete contrast in Regents Park, beside marble mansions and lush green trees.

 Perhaps the most exciting bit was yet to come, as soon we were paddling between the enclosures of London Zoo! To one side an aviary and to the other warthogs and hyenas! The large Chinese Junk at the entrance to the Camden Lock reach was almost an anti-climax.

Returning to Little Venice, we had to wait with other traffic for the tunnel to be clear, as all of a sudden the narrow canal became almost crowded with trippers and houseboats on the move.

 The return journey was a bit of a slog in parts as the wind always seemed to be against us and no doubt we were tiring after a full day's paddling. Inn conclusion, a VERY interesting trip, but although far from fastidious, I did find the litter/rats/dead pigeons a bit off putting!

Foray up the Ember - 11th October 2009

posted 9 Jan 2010, 00:57 by Domain Admin   [ updated 9 Jan 2010, 00:58 ]

The weather on Sunday morning was disappointing compared to Saturday, but we hoped it might brighten up. Graham George Andy and I had decided to continue the exploration of the Mole/Ember which Graham Usman and Debbie had begun the previous week.

The Mole joins the Thames just below Hampton Court Bridge and it took about 50 minutes to make our way to the entrance. A short distance up the tributary the river “splits” – the Mole comes over a weir straight in front of you and the Ember comes from the left. Following the Ember between high concrete banks we soon came to the first of the Ember weirs; however this one has a set of rollers to enable small craft to pass. It’s a bit dank and dark but worth the effort.  
In the 1960’s the Ember and the Mole flooded and subsequently major flood relief works were done resulting in a concrete lined river course. I’m sure it works well for the residents and businesses of Hampton and Molesy, but there isn’t much green to be seen on this stretch of river. However we soon emerged into rural Surrey and interesting views of back gardens and summer houses. After a bit Graham noticed another tributary to the left and we spent an interesting few minutes exploring as far as we could before we ran out of water, turning Andy’s sea kayak in the narrow and heavily overhung stream was quite a challenge.

Eventually we reached another weir, we managed to get out and have a scout around for a suitable entry point above the weir. The sides of the river were steep with reeds at the edge of the bank although we did spot a sort of gap on the far bank.. however although we might well have been able to get into the river at this point, Graham wisely pointed out that getting back out again to renegotiate the weir would probably have been a different and quite soggy experience.
So it was decided that we would return on a warmer day (or when wearing dry suits) The weather, which had brightened up at one point, gradually got greyer and by the time we were back at Minima it had begun to drizzle.

Pretty good timing really!

Molsey to Walton - 10th October 2009

posted 9 Jan 2010, 00:55 by Domain Admin   [ updated 9 Jan 2010, 00:59 ]

Debbie and I were the only takers for the advertised beginner’s trip up to Ravens Ait and back so we decided as we both had a glorious free day to be a bit more adventurous and put our kayaks on the roof rack of my Ford Ka and head for a different stretch of the river. We put Debbie’s smaller kayak on top of my wide cockpit dagger and tied both through the carry handles front and back to the roof bars and once over the top for security and they didn’t move a centimetre.

With the small car underneath we had no problem getting under the 2 metre height restricting bar at Hurst Park car park and we were soon on the river and making our way up stream past Hampton Sailing club and skirting the finish line of a youth canoe event.

Despite considerable rain in the week there was barely any stream to make against. We passed, on the Surrey bank,  Platts Eyot with it’s large semi derelict boat sheds  reminders of  a more prosperous and industrial history. On the next reach was Aquarius Sailing club, where autumn bonfires burned while club members worked on dinghy park clearance (watch this space for a date at Minima). Our leisurely progress brought us in time to Sunbury where we pottered round the back of Sunbury Court Island the river being pretty shallow in parts here. We resisted the draw of two pubs backing onto the river and pulled the kayaks up the rollers at the side of Sunbury lock. The water above the lock was glassy and still and we continued to make good progress. Between Sunbury and Walton there are several weirs on the Middlesex bank with interesting glimpses of a parallel but inaccessible water course. When we got to Walton Bridge we turned right for a brief exploration of the Marina before heading back to have lunch at “The Weir”. Fortified we made our way back to Molesy.

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