We parked the car not far from the Grand Junction Arms in Southall, put the canoe onto the water and paddled towards Brentford. October 31st Halloween and Richard and I find ourselves back on the Grand Union Canal.
It’s promising to be another lovely day as a pleasant but uneventful start to our journey brings us to the Norwood Top Lock, which is manned by a couple of likeable and chatty lock keepers, volunteers of course. After a quick chat we haul the canoe round the Lock and under the bridge and realise the water on the other side is so low that we are never going to be able to get back into the canoe at this point… read Peter’s full account here.
It would be unrealistic to expect fair weather for paddling at the fag end of October and any trip taken at that time could only be regarded as summer’s swansong. But since the club has a history of inspecting nature’s artwork at this time of year, and that the whole of the preceding week’s weather forecasts for Saturday had promised unrelenting sunshine with light, balmy breezes, it was really a trip not to be missed.
Seven of us, Jenny, Amanda, Stuart, Andy, Mark and Dave under the leadership of Phil packed our drybags and headed off from Bell Hill to Boulter’s lock on the Thames just upstream from Maidenhead, to paddle upstream to Marlow, taking in the Autumn sights and breezes. We were away for an early but punctual start at 9.00am and arrived at Boulter’s car park and were unloading 45 minutes later….. read Dave’s full report from the link on the Trip Reports page
Sunday 19 October 2014
On a beautiful day with a strong southerly breeze and a good flow, we launched kayaks to explore the Wey, heading south along the navigation through Walsham Gates and Newark Lock. Half a mile after Newark Lock and 35 minutes into the paddle we turned west, leaving the navigation (the Broadmead Cut, here) for the backwaters of the old river.
What did we know? That if we paddled for a couple of miles or so we’d get to an old factory straddling the river, where we could portage across a field and launch again, dodging a weir and in the blink of an eye, make the navigation once more to make a fine round trip.
What we didn’t know was that the river, rural, remote and fast-flowing, had other plans. After 45 minutes of great paddling and threading the boats through fallen branches we came up against a small wood that had upped itself and now lay like a sleeping dog across our path. With no chance of landing or portage we turned our noses to the flow and with a strengthening wind shot back the way we’d come… read Stephens full report from the link on the trip reports page.
Life is like a bowl of chocolates you never know what ‘you’re gonna get‘.
The same could be said for The Grand Union Canal. Tuesday morning Peter and myself collected the canoe from Bell Hill and headed back to Southall Common to paddle the next stretch of canal. Travelling through the rush hour traffic made all the more easy knowing we were off to a far better place than our fellow drivers… read Richard’s full report here.
Saturday afternoon in September, and up and down the river young couples were saying ‘I do’ to their betrotheds, on lush lawns, in marquees or partying along on paddle steamers, everyone seemed to be getting married. Seven Hamptoneers did their best to add a little extra interest in the background of the wedding photographs, floating along the river behind the happy couples saying their vows! Read the full report on the trip reports page
The planned club trip for the last day of August promised to be a pleasant summer’s day out on one of the mid reaches of the Thames above Old Windsor, and it didn’t disappoint.
Looking out across the water at Bell Hill before we started out we had blue skies and sunshine with only the mandatory light breeze rippling the water.
Seven of us collected boats from the clubhouse and set off to the ‘Bells of Ouzely’ pub and eatery on the bank of the Thames about a mile below Old Windsor lock. Barnet and Daniel, sharing a Canadian and making the overall number up to nine, had set off a little earlier and
were paddling away from the pub as we drove up to unload… read Dave Kew’s complete account by clicking the link on the trip reports page
After a period of changeable weather we were lucky to have a clear run through with some lovely sunny spells. Sarah and Stephen organised the trip and were able to find enough roof rack spaces for all those going. Traffic trouble around Hampton and Walton Bridge were the only irritations of the day.
Arriving at Chertsey Bridge we got ourselves ready to depart and Dan being the scientist that he is was keen to investigate the conditions that had caused Jenny a wet start to her paddle a while back. Without any other assistance he was able to replicate the situation exactly and take a dip in the cool waters of the Thames. We then proceeded to paddle smoothly and largely uneventfully over to Shepperton lock where Dan proved that he could still enter his kayak and stay afloat at the designated portage point that seems to have been designated by some lanky fellow who has no trouble reaching down over three feet to get into his boat. Stephen, Mark and myself used the steps and the rest of the party took the sensible step of crossing over to the steps on the opposite bank.
Just below the lock we met up with Christine and later on as we went for out bacon butties met up with more paddlers from the club. Teas and food consumed we nudged the swans and geese out of the way and continued on past the Weir where we were heckled by drunken revellers who had canoed up from a nearby hamlet.
We arrived back at Bell Hill in good time and after cleaning up the kayaks made out way back to Chertsey to pick up cars.
Thanks to Sarah and Stephen for arranging the trip.
Richard had found the perfect parking spot. The Common in Southall. We had the park on one side of us and the Brentford arm of the Grand Union Canal on the other. We put the canoe in the water and paddled off towards the Bulls Bridge junction. We thought today, Friday the 8th was a good enough day to paddle the Paddington arm of the Grand Union up to Horsenden canoe centre in Perivale (about 6 miles each way, no locks to portage!). At Bulls Bridge the canal splits, the Paddington arm heads north and the Brentford Arm continues to form the main branch of the Grand Union canal all the way to Birmingham… read Peters complete report here.
This is an 18-mile paddle of nine locks and only one portage. Seven locks have canoe passes and one, Hampstead, can be by-passed. The launch and recovery sites are easily accessible, and the trail finishes at Allington with free, hot showers and a café.
Sarah, Mark, Dan and I choose to make the trip with an overnight stop at Hampstead Lock where we camped at Marlin Canoe Club, a secluded patch of grass and shading trees with a view of Yalding Bridge. There is no running water on site, but the river authority has some near-by, and there’s the Anchor – a dismal escapee from the early 70s: terrible food and fouled beer. But who cares? We were hungry and it has a great view of the river…. read Stephens full account from the link on the trip reports page
Effective leaders adjust their plans as opportunities arise. Latin scholars refer to this technique as ‘Carpe Diem’. Other regards it as erratic opportunism. But it works: here’s an example from the weekday trip on Monday 30 June.
Ivy, Norma, Jenny, Bernard, Dave and I arrived at Catteshall lock on the Wey to discover:
- The get-out was entirely blocked by moored boats from the boatyard and the cut itself was blocked by boats from the boatyard (though they were moved out of our wey). Indeed, our larger boats could only land and launch on the boatyard side of the navigation.
- We were a bit behind schedule for coffee at Bel and the Dragon in Godalming.
- Hector’s Bistro was open, fully recovered from three feet of flood water in the winter.
The Hamptoneers happily settled into Hector’s and can report that the bacon sarnies there are still excellent (they’re based on lots of streaky smoked bacon, which is an unusual and delicious recipe); the scones are good, too.
Andrew’s paddle up the Hamble attracted 8 paddlers in thrall to a stiffening breeze and the weird cross currents of an incoming tide.
Up towards the motorway bridge with a promising storm to the west and the menacing thud thud of outward-bound Sunseekers between the trots, past the Jolly Sailor and all of us paddling for England to escape the swell and make the bridge and then – a lovely broad river, blue sky and marshes…… read Stephen’s full account from the link on the trip reports page.
Full report of Phil and Dan’s final leg of their trip on the river Mole from Cobham all the way back to Bell Hill – read it here
Congratulations to Christine Bockett, Dave Kew and Daniel Bownds on successfully kayaking the 26.2 miles from Godalming down the Wey and Thames to Bell Hill. The last few miles on the Thames were very choppy and windy but we all managed to stay dry (just)! (I also paddled the distance – Phil T) Good job guys!
Full trip report here.
7th June 2014
Eleven paddlers set off downstream from Bell Hill: Val, Adam, Dave, Gerard, Andy, Chris, Sarah, Stephen, Derek Heath, and Norma powering me along in a Rorqual. Another paddler was expected but it turned out that he was going to have a different kind of eventful day.
The forecast included rainstorms and thunder, and not long after Thames Ditton it started to rain, soaking us before we had reached the Royal Canoe Club. We paused at Teddington Lock for a quick briefing about our next step…. read Andrew’s full report by clicking on the link on the trip reports page