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?
|Basingstoke Canal distances and facilities|
|New Haw – Wey||Easy above lock||0.7|
|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|
|Whitewater winding hole||30.6|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…..
Read Jill’s full account here
‘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
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
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!!
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.
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
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