After the floods – Windsor to Bell Hill

Paddling down the river from Windsor last weekend with Daniel Bownds there were stark reminders of the floods earlier in the year. There were many sad scenes of boats high and dry on the tow-path or half-sunken at crazy angles. Endless shredded shopping bags hanging in tree branches still grey from the flood waters gave the river an eerie feel. The weirs were all chock a block with every sort of detritus you can imagine, whole trees, massive logs,  boats, canoes, kayaks, bags, bottles, tables and even a Wendy house,

Many homes were taking advantage of the fine weather and had every door and window open with the hum of air-heaters brought in to dry out flooded properties. The other sound was that of pressure washers washing away the silt and debris from decks, patios and jetties. Otherwise, there was a remarkably fast return to normality as we floated past these scenes silently and swiftly pushed along by a steady current.

Portaging was interesting in places with deep, smelly mud everywhere which soon found its way into the canoe each time we stepped back in. Navigating required extreme care as we approached or passed a weir. At times we had to paddle hard whilst heading at about 45 degrees to the bank to avoid getting sucked into the weirs and adding ourselves and the canoe to the mountains of flotsam already clogging them up.

Daffodils may be flowering and the sun rising higher in the skies but the trees along the river still gave a very brown wintry feel and we looked forward to the greening of the trees and the imminent arrival of spring.

The journey of 18 miles took us 4 hours with some short stops to switch from thermal top to t-shirts (not Dan who is always ready for a swim in his full length wet-suit and cagoule) and to buy a coffee and cake! Parking at Windsor station is only £2 on a Sunday, and I swiftly returned by train to collect my car)

Phil Tauwhare

(Note : whilst red boards are displayed the river is no place for novice paddlers)
small_P3090001Swans by Eton bridge at our put in near the castle

small_DSC03935Windsor castle early on a spring morning

small_DSC03936Dappled sunshine on the river heading downstream

small_DSC03937Old Windsor weir clogged with debris

small_DSC03940Dan in kneeling position at the stern putting in a little stern rudder

small_DSC03946After the floods another boat left high and dry

small_DSC03953Back in the water after portaging Chertsey lock

small_DSC03956Dan with Chertsey bridge behind, the water reached its highest level ever on 10 Feb 2014 beating the previous record set in 1847

small_DSC03958Half sunken boats were a common sight on our journey

small_DSC03962Approaching the island at Shepperton the river still looks very wintry

small_DSC03967Dan and Phil looking back down Desborough cut

small_DSC03972Nearly home, Sunbury rollers with massive log still high and dry

small_P3090008Another view of Sunbury rollers and massive log

small_DSC03973Interesting river craft!

small_DSC03975At last, back to the welcome sight of St Mary’s church at Hampton and the club building

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