Category Archives: Trips

Leaves, weeds and portages

Saturday 18th November 2017

Mytchett to New Haw  –  Basingstoke canal

There are 28 locks on this 14 mile stretch of the canal so I was not that surprised that only two other Hamptoneers signed up for the trip of a lifetime! Paul who has not missed a trip since he joined the club and Jenny who is always up for a paddling challenge.

It was a grey, cloudy day but the main colour along the canal was the golden tinge of the Autumn leaves forming a carpet on the canal and blowing off the trees which line the canal from start to finish. There was no other boat traffic once we had left the top Mytchett pound and started descending the locks, just a few dog walkers, hikers and bikers along the towpath.

As the locks progressed we honed our portage routine to be able to hop out of our boats, haul them out of the water onto one shoulder, trot along to the lower end of the lock, drop boat in water and get paddling again to less than 60 seconds. This meant that before long we reached the end of the Frimley flight of 14 locks and got a paddle of about a mile on the pound to the top of the Brookwood lock flight. This is just three locks in quick succession before another nice 2 miles of paddling to the…. dry section of the canal.

In some lock pounds water had leaked out lowering the water level by a couple of feet which made getting out at the portage quite tricky and meant lying down on the river bank to reach down and retrieve your kayak.

We had been forewarned that locks 11 to 7 were being repaired and this section of canal would be ‘de-watered’. We had some food and water and then hoiked our kayaks onto our shoulders for the half mile walk to the next stretch of water. We stopped occcasionally to move the kayak from one shoulder to the other and before long reached the pound above the Goldsworth top lock (#11).

5 minutes later we paddled up to the Bridge Barn pub, a modern Beefeater place meant to look like an old barn. The lunchtime menu had a range of dishes for a fiver which were just what we needed in the middle of a long paddle, with 6 miles and 6 locks still to go you don’t want too large a lunch!

After lunch we had our longest uninterrupted paddle of 3.2 miles so with Paul powering ahead as leaf clearer fuelled by his gammon steak and chip lunch we were soon at the top of the final flight of locks (#6).

The Woodham lock flight is spread over one mile and before we knew it we had reached the apocryphal lock number ONE! Just an easy mile left down to New Haw, turning left onto the Wey navigation under the M25 bridge.

Boats were soon on the roof rack for the quick drive back to Mytchett to collect cars and return to the club house to clean down the boats which were plastered with leaves, twigs and various detritus from the canal.

We all agreed it was a very enjoyable if exhausting day out, next year anyone?

Phil Tauwhare

Basingstoke Canal distances and facilities
Parking Locks Miles
New Haw – Wey Easy above lock 0.7
Woodham Junction 0 0.0
Woodham bottom lock 1 0.3
Woodham lock #2 2 0.7
Woodham lock #3 3 1.2
Woodham lock #4 4 1.3
Woodham lock #5 5 1.5
Woodham top lock #6 6 1.6
Bridge Barn Pub Pub car park 4.8
Goldsworth bottom lock 7 5.3
Goldsworth lock #8 8 5.4
Goldsworth lock #9 9 5.6
Goldsworth lock #10 10 5.7
Goldsworth top lock #11 11 5.8
Brookwood bottom lock #12 12 7.4
Brookwood lock #13 13 7.5
Brookwood top lock #14 14 7.6
Frimley bottom lock #15 15 8.5
Frimley lock #16 16 8.8
Frimley lock #17 17 8.9
Frimley lock #18 18 9.1
Frimley lock #19 19 9.3
Frimley lock #20 20 9.5
Frimley lock #21 21 9.6
Frimley lock #22 22 9.7
Frimley lock #23 23 9.8
Frimley lock #24 24 10.0
Frimley lock #25 25 10.1
Frimley lock #26 26 10.3
Frimley lock #27 27 10.4
Frimley top lock #28 28 10.7
Mytchett Car park / café/ toilets 13.1
Ash Vale Station car park 14.2
Ash lock #29 29 16.4
Wharf bridge, Aldershot Car park 17.8
Eelmoor bridge Street parking 19.2
Pondtail Bridge Street parking 20.7
Reading Rd Car park 21.7
Fox and Hounds Pub Pub + street parking 22.3
Crookham Wharf Car park 23.8
Barley Mow Public car park 26.3
Colt Hill Bridge / Waterwitch Public car park 28.9
N Warnborough lift bridge Some parking 30.3
Odiham Castle 30.5
Whitewater winding hole 30.6
Greywell Tunnel 31.2

PADDLING, SHOOTS, AND TEAPOTS.

Myself, Jenny, Paul, Norma, Catilin, Andrew, Michele and our trip leader Dan, find ourselves climbing into three canoes and one double kayak on a small slipway at the end of Tonbridge Castle car park. It’s October 7 around 10.00am and it is slightly raining and cold enough to be wearing a fleece. This is our launch site for an eighteen-mile, nine lock trip down the River Medway, from Tonbridge to Maidstone.

Within half a mile of starting we find ourselves at Tonbridge Town Lock, but to our disappointment the canoe shoot is not in use. So, we decide to haul our boats over the barrier and pull them down the shoots brushes anyway. Far more fun than just an ordinary portage. Porters Lock is the third on our journey and it’s our first flowing shoot. Down we go, a bit wobbly at first but great fun. All a little bit more excited now and we can’t wait for the next one. We paddle forward.

One thing you notice about the Medway is that it is just not busy. We came across three moving boats all day. There’s plenty of birds crossing from one bank to the other and at one point we followed a Kingfisher for about a mile or so. There’s plenty of fishermen also, all happy to say hi and let us know what they have or have not caught, but apart from that it’s all nice and quiet.
The canoe shoot at Oak Lock is steeper than the previous and after shooting it we all decide to stop and have a bite to eat and a drink. Flapjacks and flasks are taken from dry bags as Dan decides he’s going to run the shoot again, on his own this time. We all watch, cameras at the ready, was that a wobble, no, perfectly executed. At Sluice Lock the excitement builds, as this is by far the steepest shoot. Catilin and I are the first to go over. Catilin is up front and gets a lap full of the Medway as we come crashing down. The water throws itself into our canoe by the bucket load. Paul and Michele come down behind us with the same intensity, followed by Dan and Jenny and then Andrew and Norma. We all take five minutes to empty our boats.

There’s a pub called the Anchor Inn at Hampstead Lock and this is our destination for lunch. However, when we arrive the pub is closed and boarded up. What a spot of luck this turns out to be, for on the opposite bank we spy the Teapot Island. A café boasting a museum of around eight thousand tea pots. Featured in the Guinness Book of Records in 2004 for the largest collection, but cruelly snatched away in 2011 by a man in China who has amassed a whopping thirty thousand. A few of us order lunch while a couple of us are told about the time Prince Charles and Camilla came and viewed the collection and about the Prime Minister, who actually bought one, for they sell them as well. Michele orders a pot of tea. Whilst we were sitting eating and chatting, (Hamptoneers second favourite pastime) the heavens opened, so we dragged our heals a little and this gave Jenny an excuse to buy an ice cream.

Teston Lock was to be our finial shoot of the day, again, great fun and once down, completely dry this time, we paddled towards Eastfarleigh Lock. Once past this we have our longest stretch of paddling between Locks, four and a half miles. We enter the urban fringes of Maidstone and as the river slowly bends left you are taken aback by the fantastic grade 1, mullion windowed Archbishops Palace that sits on the right bank, a truly beautiful building. Old and new sitting comfortably next to each other here, with the reasonable new House of Frazer department store sitting very close by. Another half mile brings us to Allington Lock and the end of our journey.

Eighteen miles of paddling and running canoe shoots in the county known as the Garden of England. The weather was all over the place, throwing a little bit of everything at us, but the scenery was glorious and the paddling was made slightly easier for we had a slight wind on our backs for a good part of it. The modernising of the Locks has been undertaken with paddlers in mind and for this reason there was hardly any canoe carrying involved, apart from the Jobsworth, the high bank and the health and safety incident, but I’m not going to mention that, it’s too crazy for words and I still can’t get my head round it.

Thanks to all my fellow paddlers for a great days paddling. To Andrew, Jenny and Paul for bringing all the paddlers and boats back home to Hampton and especially to Dan for organising the day.

Peter McBride

Head of the Thames: Cricklade to Newbridge

Head of the Thames: Cricklade to Newbridge – 27 miles

Day 1 = 10 miles Cricklade to Lechlade 0 locks

Day 2 = 17 miles Lechlade to Newbridge 5 locks + 1 canoe shoot
car shuttle: Cricklade, car parking on near-by street; Newbridge, car park of Rose Revived (by request).

12 – 13 August 2017

Trip Leader Sarah
Peter Mac, Maxine, Paul, Stephen
2 canoes, 1 Easky

Day 1 Launch at Abingdon Court Lane, Cricklade.
Lunch in meadow.

Overnight camping at Bridge House Farm, Lechlade, 300m across field from get-out.

Day 2 Launch at Lechlade, 10 metres downstream of bridge, south bank. Break at picnic tables by Radcot Lock (after canoe shoot, get-out at jetty on opposite bank for boats waiting to use lock upstream). Lunch at Rushey Lock (where there’s a shower, toilets and camp site).

This is a fascinating and beautiful stretch of the Thames. The first day (of 10 miles) comprises 4 – 5 hours of tree trunks, hawthorn, shallows and reeds – the river never much more than 20 feet wide and with the narrowest passages for a kayak or canoe to push through. A lovely day, quiet country, good company and only 3 boats to cut a route – a route impossible with a fixed rudder and super difficult in a K2. We saw a handful of kayakers early on and some of the trees showed saw marks, and though the water was often shallow we got out only once where a fallen tree was blocking our way. With enough water below the hull to drown a giant there was no way we could drag the boats through the water. Paul solved the puzzle: by climbing onto the biggest branches we could haul the canoes over (and the Easky under) the obstruction, playing the boats until we could get in them again without falling in.

DSCF1463 20768159_334774873616085_8262821205025255096_n 20767852_334774916949414_6407932476620166958_n DSCF1467 20729661_334774896949416_1088920344790122825_n

After a picnic in a meadow (there are no supplies en route and no easy get-outs), and 7 miles or so into the journey, the Thames gets a little wider until, a mile or so short of Lechlade it shrugs off the undergrowth. A couple of small powered boats appeared. We camped at Lechlade, hauling the boats across a pasture to the camp site (showers etc). Lechalde has late shops and at least four pubs. The Swan was friendly and the food simple, good and cheap. The New Inn is a big coaching stop and has rooms to rent in the stables out back. The Riverside pub is wretched, leave it alone.

DSCF1471

Day 2 we launched at 8.45 and finished at 15.00. A perfect morning, not too hot. More boats now but the river still tranquil. Isolated locks, the first unmanned at that time of day and requiring a short portage of our well-laden boats. Helpful lock-keepers and a very generous boater got us into three other locks and, at Radcot Lock – whey hey – a curling canoe shoot a good 100 metres long: turn, turn, whizz, turn, splash. Brilliant. And no-one fell in. We had a picnic on the opposite bank at the end of the shoot, tying up at the stage for upstream boats waiting to enter the lock (and keeping ours out of the way). There, steps lead to picnic benches.

DSCF1486 DSCF1485

Even with locks and stops our speed on day 2 averaged around 3 mph. With no flow, twists and turns and the river like glue where the reeds grew under the surface, it was a demanding day – hot in the sun. But with some determined paddling we reached the Rose Revived at 3pm. The pub is next to a busy road over a narrow bridge but the Thames Path runs into a quieter patch of meadow and a float for a canoe club (unnamed) where I swam.

The Rose Revived has less charm than Newport Pagnell Services, but it does have food if you need it and you can sit by the river.

Notes: carry food, take minimum kit, don’t take a delicate kayak or a K2, be ready to fend off thorns. Ear plugs handy for the camp site at Lechlade.

[Personal note, I had an ever-more painful back injury; Maxine, Sarah, Paul and Peter were true Hamptoneers, portaging for me, getting me in and out and Maxine letting me paddle her Easky – a change of seat that got me to the end – a thousand thanks to you all]

Stephen Morris – August 2017

Wye trip summer 2017

14-16 July 2017

15 of us attended this trip, most were camping, some bed and breakfast and two camper-vans. The first night after pitching tents we set off for team bonding at the Spread Eagle Hereford…..

Wye2018

Read Jill’s full account here 

The River Mole Chainsaw Massacre

moletrip

‘Don’t forget your crash helmets’ was the last email from Dan Bownds a couple of days before what I thought was going to be a gentle paddle through the Surrey Hills. The start point was a small residential road in Brockham which looked a bit crowded after five cars and canoes moved in. Ever conscious of the BCU code of conduct we started a ‘polite and friendly’ conversation with a local resident who asked us to keep a look out for some gardening equipment that had been stolen including a new chainsaw…. read Dan Taylors full trip account here

Sardinia 2017

17 paddlers and a few tourists made the club’s annual pilgrimage to the warm waters and blue skies of the Mediterranean this year.

The ink is now dry on the final trip report written by Maxine. Read it here 

IMAG1604

IMAG1642

IMAG1635IMAG1631

Barley Mow to Mytchett

 Basingstoke canal explorer 2017 : leg 2
IMAG1651
All packed and loaded, we headed off to the Barley Mow ready to launch. Conditions were good, the canal was calm, and we were ready to go on the second outing to the Basingstoke canal – to cover the next 13 miles eastbound from the paddle that took place earlier this year on the first 10 miles.
Then 15 mins in – progress was stopped. Signs indicated that the footpath and the river navigation was closed.  At this point we continued to paddle – as we had er…only made it 1/2 a mile.  We could scrape past the works floating platform – but then became hindered by a sharp ‘chicane’ blocked by a floating yellow rubber boon across the canal which stood a ‘huge’ 4 inches above the water line.  The sea kayak of Andrew and Norma, as well as the canoe of Sarah and Steven could push past – but the K1’s and K2’s just bounced back.  Sarah came up with a plan to put the Sea kayak one one side and the Canoe on the other side – pushing down on the barrier – to allow us ‘more delicate’ kayaks to paddle through the middle.  A new technique was born (well it was new to me) – and I for one was grateful – good teamwork all round.
IMAG1650
We made smooth progress moving along – with just wildlife and the odd walker/jogger to be seen along the bank.
A brief stop at the Fox and Hounds on the outskirts of Fleet (or Church Cookham as the pub address proudly indicates) revealed a modern pub (alas closed) with good mooring.  A welcome and er….exciting fusion of spanish and english was had with flapjacks from Paul and Chorizo from Norma.
Further relaxed progress was made, south on Farnborough airfield.  We passed the place where previously – the infamous ‘worlds angriest swan’ lay waiting for unsuspecting paddlers.  All swans we passed on the day seemed most chilled.  So far so good.
IMAG1653
We made a late stop for luch at Ash Lock – which fortunately was easy to disembark at.  The solitary picnic table was free and the sun was shining.  We were alone save for the busy road nearby but we were soon joined by a gaggle/skein of inquisitive geese – hungry for any leftovers.  The K1’s could be manhandled under the bridge via a footpath, whereas the longer/wider craft were carried over the busy road – with traffic begrugingly stopping when necessary.
Continuing our journey, the canal passed over the A331 via an aqueduct – alas a bit too tricky to exit out of due to indented banking (probably designed to stop inquisitive paddlers…).   Further along there were several areas where the canal opens out into small lakes, with the last being Mytchette Lake – which for me was a first as I’ve never paddled in a ‘lake’ before.  Alas much of it was cordened off as it’s a wildlife reserive – but for me – it was a taste of the Canadian Lakes in er…Farnborough.
Our trip ended at the Basingstoke Canal centre – with cafe facilities, clean(ish) loos and it’s obvioulsy popular with the locals. Here you can hire peddelos & rowing boats. Whilst we waited for transport, we watched a familiy with their brand new 2 man inflatable kayak – lot of laughs but boy it looked a bit unstable and seemed to be visibly deflating. Worth suggesting to the comittee that the club should get several inflatable Kayaks….?!! Maybe not.
Thanks to all paddlers for making it a grand day out.
Paddlers:
Phil Tauwhare, Michelle Sugrue, Paul Scott, Andrew Wallace, Norma Morris, Sarah Potter & Steven

 

Arun river paddle

Sarah, Stephen,Maxine and Paul headed down to the Black Rabbit at Arundel to launch onto the river Arun for a tidal assisted trip up to Pullborough and back. Trip account coming soon… Here are a few pictures. (May 2017)

maxine amberley gap paul heading up stream returning on the tide amberley bridge

Barley Mow to Greywell Tunnel


Saturday 29th March 2017 Trip on the Basingstoke canal

GreywellTunnel29Apr2017At the entrance to the Greywell tunnel

As a relatively new club member, this trip was to be my furthest paddle yet. 10 miles from the Barley Mow to Greywell. A group of 14 paddlers, a double canoe and a K2, the rest in K1’s. The weather was cloudy but the season presented us with plenty of baby chicks following proud Mum’s who sounded the odd warning to us to back off!!

IMAG1520

Peter, of course, was in fine form, informing us of the year each bridge we passed under was built. I guess reading the plaques made him feel intelligent? Tamra braved a viper with no mishaps. Michelle, apparently wearing 4 layers of clothing, would surely have sunk had she fallen in!! As we approached Greywell, (where a gate in the canal prevents further access) it became quite an obstacle course of reeds and water plants. Looking into the water was quite fascinating, like paddling through an overgrown lush green garden.

IMG-20170429-WA0008

After turning around, we stopped for a snack break at Odiham castle. All but one wimp braved the 2ft step-up to get onto the bank. The group took pity on the wimp…. passing down cakes…. Thanks guys!! Yum!! One lucky dog got a real treat….stolen flapjacks, curtesy of Paul. The poor dog-owner was mortified!!

Amanda, faced with the big step down to get back into her K1, had a tiny moment of panic but she braved it out admirably. Next came the really low bridge. We had all made it through on the outward journey, literally having to lie on top of our boats… but Alan clearly had too many cakes… and took a small blow to the head causing an impromptu dunking! Alan, thank you… for once it was someone other than me!

On returning to the Barley Mow, cars were loaded up and 14 hungry paddlers sat down to some great pub grub and a good old natter.

Thanks, Phil, for leading and coordinating a great day out

Trisha Stonebridge

Jubilee river trip

This was my first trip – aside from Improvers sessions – so I arrived at the club on time at 8.30 ready to pack and depart with a mix of beginners enthusiasm and trepidation. The two other members of the trip , Dan and Paul were already packing 3 big bright ‘Easky’ kayaks on top of Dan’s fiesta.

Dan’s already done one write up on the first trip to the Jubilee – so I’ll just paraphrase it’s ‘a hydraulic relief channel for the Thames in Berkshire’ approx 7 miles long. Our trip involved paddling most of the Jubilee River – and joining the Thames through to the Bells of Ouzeley” Pub – around 9.5 miles.

We started at a the ‘Marsh Lane’ car park – with a relatively easy entry onto the river via a flat shingle patch at 10:15 am. It was a barmy sunny day – with sufficient cooling winds around the bends to avoid overheating……… read Alan’s full trip report here

jr_DSCF6756

Night paddle from Shepperton to the club

Andrew (trip leader), Norma, Elizabeth, Trisha, Paul, Michelle, Amanda plus Mark, Peter and Phil.

Last Sunday 11th December was cold and crisp and as the sun was setting a group of Hamptoneers put their boats on roof racks and drove up to Shepperton. A few others decided to paddle upstream to meet up at the launch point.

First problem, getting the tape to stick the lights to the boats to do its job, i.e. stick! With the cooling air a thin film of moisture settled on the boats which required either drying the boat where the light needed to be taped or wrapping the tape right around the boat. Lights in place we headed out onto the water by the lock.

The rowers, cruisers and all other boaters had long ago headed inside to warm up and dry out. Not for The Hamptoneers! We relished the silent, still, inky black waters……… read Phil’s full account here

shepperton1


Cookham to The Bells Of Ouzeley

Thames: Cookham to Bells of Ouzeley 5 December 2016, 14 miles, five hours with breaks and tricky portage

7 Hamptoneers : Andrew, Val, Paul, Tamra, Mark, Sarah, Stephen

The sixth leg of the Thames from source to Westminster and a day for polar bears, with ice lying lightly on the jetty at Cookham Sailing Club. Why do we do it? A beautiful morning, paddling into the sun and past the woods below Cliveden (11 o’clock by the tolling of the bell) with the water pretty much to ourselves and the ducks. No flow.

After Cliveden, Boulter’s Lock by Maidenhead is a chance to take off layers. There was once an electric lift here to save small boats using the lock, long since replaced by a long-drop portage into the weir – no place for a wobble in near-freezing water…. read Stephens full trip report here.

at-windsor

Henley to Cookham

 Henley to Cookham November 5

There were nine Hamptoneers standing at the bottom of Mill Lane in Henley at around 10-30 Saturday morning November 5. Myself, Sarah, Maxine, Amanda, Charles, Paul, Tamra, Stephen and our trip leader Andrew. It had taken us about 50 minutes to travel from Bell Hill and it was cold and blowy. After an in depth discussion on what we were all wearing to keep warm, we picked up our kayaks and wrapped in hats, gloves, body warmers, cags and spray decks we walk the short walk to our get in point.

Read Peter McBride’s full trip account here

See main Thames Trip report page here

Pictures coming soon……

Tilehurst to Henley

 

henley2

With a very civilised start to the trip, that allowed for a sleep in, paddlers started arriving at the club in time to meet the very organised schedule provided by Andrew who led the trip.

Clear, not too cold weather greeted us as we got on the water within 5 minutes of the scheduled time. Peter M maintained his reputation as a light packer with a small dry bag that was only half full. Must get some tips from him.

Tamra, in the front of the K2 with Andrew, set a cracking pace as she enjoyed being at the front of the Group. Even though she wasn’t leading the trip Sarah couldn’t stop counting the boats, and she demonstrated great stability when turning around to check paddlers behind her, without turning her boat. Must get some tips from her…. read Maxines full account on the main Thames trips page.

Also see Tamra’s separate account with photos