Exploring the Wey Backwaters, April 22nd 2019
DW: We did it our way, April 2019
The DW race is well-known to you all (and our congratulations to Mike and Elly for an excellent perfomance). It travels through a pleasant part of England, but racing isn’t our thing, so we decided to take a tour this Eastertime from Devizes back to our home in Teddington.
Our expedition benefited greatly from being able to buy Bernard and Ivy’s ultralightweight canoe just before we left. We called it ‘Darbon’ and this was its inaugural voyage. It came with a 50 litre dry bag and a 75 litre dry bag, both well-filled with sunoil, sunglasses, pogies, fleeces, cags, etc. – this was an Eastertime trip. Here’s our report.
Sunday 14 Apr: unloaded boat and luggage at Devizes Wharf. Parked the Yeti as close as possible to the headquarters of Wiltshire Police. 8 miles, no portages to lunch at the café at Honey Street. 7 miles, no portages to Wooton Rivers. Here we discovered we’d left the canoe wheels in the Yeti! Portaged 400 metres north of Bridge 108 to The Royal Oak at Wooton Rivers, supper booked for 7 – 7:30, bed and breakfast.
Monday 15 Apr: 6 miles, tunnel, 13 locks to lunch at Great Bedwyn. Walked into village, freshly-baked Cornish Pasties and Lardy cake from the village shop for lunch (best lunch of the trip). 3 miles and 6 portages to Froxfield. 150 metres north of Bridge 90, 150 metres west along the A4 to The Pelican Inn, Froxfield. Supper included superb roast venison. Bed and breakfast.
Tuesday 16 Apr: 3 miles and 4 portages to lunch in Hungerford. Lovely café just 30 metres south of Bridge 84. 4 miles, 4 portages to Kintbury. Supper, bed and breakfast at The Dundas Arms, Kintbury, right by Kintbury lock.
Wednesday 17 Apr: 6 miles, 7 portages to lunch in Newbury. 2 course set lunch at Cote Brasserie, about 50 metres north of Bridge 59. 4 miles, 5 portages to Thatcham. Supper, bed and breakfast at The Swan, Thatcham, 200 metres north of Bridge 42.
Thursday 18 Apr: 5 miles, 5 portages to lunch at The Rowbarge at Woolhampton, beside the canal by Bridge 31. One mile further, after Bridge 30, by prior arrangement, left Darbon at Froud’s Marina. Half day. Trudged half a mile along a busy road to The Hind’s Head, Aldermaston. After supper, bed and breakfast, pleased to find a footpath across the fields to get back to the marina.
Good Friday 19 Apr: 6 miles, 7 portages and too many low bridges to lunch at The Cunning Man in Burghfield, before Bridge 14. Table booked for 2 at noon. 4 miles and 3 portages to refreshment stop in Reading. Then 5 miles and 3 locks to Wargrave. Landed on a slipway, about 400 metres to The Bull on the High Street, for supper, bed and breakfast.
Saturday 20 Apr: 7 miles, 2 locks to planned lunchstop at The Flower Pot at Aston, but we were feeling full of energy and pressed on. 9 miles, 3 locks to Cookham; we were through Marlow Lock 2 hours ahead of the DW race! Stayed two nights at the Crown in Cookham to let both parts of the race pass us by. On Sunday we enjoyed a pleasant walk across the fields to Boulter’s Lock, where we had an ice cream with our picnic, and strolled back to Cookham alongside the Thames and Cliveden Reach.
Easter Monday 22 Apr: 3 miles, 2 locks to Maidenhead: lunch break evaded again. 11 miles, 4 locks to Old Windsor. Landed 200 metres upstream of the Bells of Ouzeley, so that was our lunch stop. Bed and breakfast was 500 metres along the road at McMillans B&B in Old Windsor.
Tuesday 23 Apr: 8 miles, 3 locks to lunch at Thames Court (Shepperton). On to tea with Carole in Hampton (a welcome break mid way between Shepperton and Teddington). Then on home.
Wed 24 Apr: train from Hampton Wick via Clapham Junction to Salisbury, then a bus via Berwick St John, Shrewton and Market Lavington to Devizes. Collected Yeti. Drove home.
Paddlers and scribes: Andrew Wallace and Norma Morris
Wey Navigation, April 19th 2019
New Haw lock to Papercourt lock and back, with lunch at the White Hart pub.
Mole Valley, April 6th 2019
Barley Mow to Greywell Tunnel, March 30th 2019
Our select band (Tamra, Jana, Phil, Frank and yours truly) assembled at 8.30 at the club to collect our chosen boats pausing only for Tamra to complain that she should have bought her heels to get the boat on top of her car and for me to explain that due to over-indulgence the night before I was in less than fine form.
After the short hop down the M3 to Fleet we parked in the public car park next to the Barley Mow pub luckily avoiding any unfortunate business with the restricted height barrier. From there a good heave and we could literally have thrown the boats straight into the canal. By this time the weather was warm and sunny so we took off most of the layers we had donned and got going.
The first section of the canal has lovely wooded countryside to both of sides of it which did mean a fair bit of debris in the water but really that was the only thing to complain about. Jana impressed us with her ornithological knowledge. Examples; “Oh that’s a really cute duck”, “Are those two birds mating whilst they’re flying?”
We paddled straight past King Johns (Odiham) castle and dodged several overenthusiastic “yoof” in hired canoes / kayaks / rowing boats before coming to the only real obstacle in the trip (no portages on this part of the canal) the low bridge at Greywell. Apparently the canal was unusually high and it was touch and go whether we could slip underneath it. Tamra got the award for the most elegant transit, a gentle limbo action that saw her through in seconds.
We soon neared the end of the canal (a collapsed tunnel now a bat sanctuary) at this point the water was very shallow and choked with a red-brown weed that made our progress more like punting than paddling. It was impossible to turn around so we had to reverse through the channel we had ploughed through the weed like mini ice-breakers.
After the turn we arrived back at King John’s castle and stopped for snacks (Thank you Jana for the banana bread) and a short history lesson, apparently the castle was once the home to Kings but it is now little more than a few rough stone walls and some signs promising certain death to anyone foolish enough to climb up them.
Refreshed we pressed on again dodging some even more “merry” and out-of-control folk in a row boat. By this time my head had cleared and I was enjoying the lovely weather, scenery, cute ducks and non-existent flow.
Arriving back the at the Barley mow we loaded out boats and headed to the pub for food. There was almost a rebellion when we found that the wait was an hour. The possibility that we might not be entertaining enough company for this extended period of time was voiced by one of our number but in the end we only had to wait for 25 minutes or so.
Thanks to Phil for organising the trip (and transporting my boat and I), to all concerned for the good company and to the weather gods for being kind to us.
Selsey to Pagham Harbour - March 23rd 2019
With Dan, Andrew, Derek, Frank, Peter, John S, Charles, Andy, Norma, Maxine, Michele S, Amanda and TamraAdvertised as 8 miles but turned out to be 11 miles….maybe we wiggled around the coast a lot more than expected.We departed from the club about 8:30 am…unless you were Dan who set off about an hour earlier as he couldn’t sleep! This was Dan’s second sea kayaking trip as a leader; aided by Andrew and Michele S who are thoroughbred sea kayakers.The weather was mild enough that Frank and Andrew were happy enough to strip down to underpants on Selsey beach…OK they were in the process of getting on dry suits but that ruins the story. Dry suits probably ended up wetter inside than out (sweat, not lack of toilets)Conditions looked to be pretty flat when we set off though there did turn out to be quite a lot of head wind and sea eddy to battle against.We did have a time window to get into the harbour area before high tide and as I was dragging along at the back Derek then Andrew kindly gave me a tow.Just before we entered the harbour things hotted up for me when Andrew released the tow line and yelled “Go, Go, Go!!! Assuming I might have a shark on my tail I promptly parted his company into some turbulent water that saw me disappear several feet momentarily. Happily no sharks and no capsizing for me on this trip.Pagham harbour is supremely quiet…or at least is was until we got there. Not a lot going on there; though there was a pub. We had a picnic lunch a few photos and pee’s in the bushes…then we setoff on our return leg.Returning was a lot less effort and faster; but that may have been because I then had about 3 people towing me by this stage. Hopefully more of an exercise than an necessity?!Lots of people got to use ropes and clips on this trip (I’m sure there is an S&M joke to be had there somewhere?)We got back to Selsey all in one piece and still smiling. Only person that was wet was Peter L who threw himself out of his boat as the sea hadn’t. He just can’t help “Loying about!” . Sadly no ice-cream van or beach bar to greet our return; just Franks soggy donuts.Time keeping was pretty bang on we set-off 10:30 am and arrived back 3:40 pm. Back to the club for about 6 pm, sipping a G&T by 7 pm.All good in the world 🙂Tamra Cave
Hertford to Broxbourne March 2019
On 9 March, Dan led the intrepid Hamptoneers Frank, Maxine, Michele and Peter McB on an exploratory paddle of the Lee Navigation, a canalised river. With winds of 25 mph mostly on our back, gusting to 40 mph, we thought we’d be finished quickly. However we didn’t count on nearly every portage being high or having an overhang, requiring us to get into and out of the boats using some novel approaches. It was a good skills development paddle that we’ll remember for some time.
Thanks to Dan for organising the paddle, and my friend Chantal and her dog Fraser for driving the car drivers from Broxbourne back to Hertford to pick up their cars.
Bells of Ouzeley to HCC 23rd Feb 2019
Basingstoke Canal - Feb 2019
With the forecast of high winds from storm Erik and choppy waters on the Thames the trip to the Basingstoke Canal turned out the best place to be with calm waters and even some sun.
The group split into 2 with one group doing a 6 mile round trip from the Canal Centre at Mytchett to Ash Lock. The second group added an extra four miles by continuing up to Deep Cut.
Hennerton Backwater & St Patricks Stream
On November 24 at 07-30 in the morning, ten Hamptoneers met at the clubhouse to load canoes and easkys onto cars, our destination? The Thames at Wargrave. It was damp, drizzling and slightly chilly when we arrived in the car park of the George & Dragon pub, our start and finished point.The car park was where myself, Jenny, John, Paul, Michelle, Gavin, Mike, Tamra, Elsa and our trip leader Dan were all meeting James, who arrived soon after us. On the water we all paddled off towards Marsh lock and keeping right we all limbo’ed under and through the very tight arch of a brick-built bridge. This led us nicely onto the Hennerton Backwater. Paddling on we just enjoyed the country side and discussed the size of some of the houses that lined our route and of course chomped on Jenny’s jenny Babies and Paul’s flapjacks.
Turning around at Marsh lock we headed back up the Thames and back pass the George and Dragon. Shiplake lock was our only portage, where we stopped for five minutes. Then with James seal launching back onto the water we all headed off to Sonning lock. Keeping an eye out for George Clooney’s house we paddle up to the bridge just before the lock and then headed towards St Patricks Stream after giving up on being invited into George’s pad, which we actually failed to see anyway.
The water picked up a bit when we entered the Stream and we were twisting and turning, passing round and under fallen trees. A couple of fishermen got the grumps and a couple seemed fine with the fact that we spoilt their peace and quiet. Towards the end of the stream modern houses stood on stilts and it was damp, drizzly and slightly chilly when we got back to the car park.
With all boats back on cars and Hamptoneers in the George and Dragon, it was time for lunch before heading back to Hampton. Ten’ish miles paddling three different waters with one portage and a good get in.
Thanks to Dan for sorting the trip and everyone else that turned out for a good mornings paddle.
Thursday 27 September 2018.
We had a plan; this was how the plan actually turned out:
Leave the clubhouse at 09:30 We managed that, more or less on time. At this point we were nine: Derek, Maxine, Jenny, Maria, Jill, Val and Clive,Tamra and me.
On the water near the Rowbarge and Wey Kayak Club in Guildford around 10:15. And here were Bernard and Ivy and their canoe, well organised and smiling – we’d not seen them for quite a while. Nice sunny warm day with a little breeze, and very little flow on the Wey. Luckily I remembered that, despite everybody seeming to be familiar with this sort of trip, one Improver had joined us, and should be warned to keep clear of the sly sluices.
Paddle upstream about five miles and three portages. Nice trip, group staying together, helping each other at the portages.
Land by Catteshall Bridge around 12:00 – 12:30, munch lunch at Hector’s. Here some of us were horribly hectored by Mr Hector, as we had committed the heinous crime of landing by the cafe , not across the canal from the cafe we wanted to get to. Luckily Clive had arrived early, travelling overland, to warn of our imminent arrival, and gradually we were permitted to leave our boats in a quiet corner, enter the cafe and present our requests for food. Gradually the atmosphere thawed and we had a pleasant lunch and chat in the garden. Mr Hector thawed also and gossiped happily to his long-standing customers.
Back on the water around 13:00 – 13:30. Again, we managed this more or less on time.
Paddle back to the cars, arrive around 15:00 – 15:30. A nice paddle back, with the amazing novelty of a paddler falling into the water beyond their kayak. I’ve seen loads of people fall in between the boat and the land, and I’ve done it myself often enough. But falling in so the kayak is between the swimmer and the land was absolutely new to me (note to everyone: caution on slippery banks and to also let go of the boat before it takes you with it into the water!)