Monday 28 December 2016
Barely Mow to Greywell Tunnel. No portages. 11 miles
Peter Loy, Amanda, Phil, Peter Mc, Jenny, Dan, Carole, Jill
This was my third trip away from the club and the first using my newly acquired v-bars. The great thing about this trip? No portages: less chance of me capsizing! We set off from the club led by Phil. We arrived at the car park by the Barley Mow at Winchfield and, after ploughing our way through a mudbath, we launched the kayaks onto the canal. It was a beautiful winter morning, the sun was shining and the weather was unseasonably warm.
The Basingstoke canal was opened in 1794 to carry agricultural produce from Basingstoke to London via the rivers Wey and Thames. By the mid 1960’s the canal had fallen derelict and the campaign for restoration began. Today the canal, which is 32 miles long and has 29 locks between King John’s Castle and the Wey navigation, is in public ownership.
We had passed under several bridges before the very low lifting bridge loomed ahead of us. On the drive there, Peter had told me that last time he capsized while trying to get under it. Amanda kindly gave me some tips and I manged to glide under it with no problems and I did not capsize as feared. The relief on my face is clear from the photo Dan took. Everyone else managed it with little problem, although Phil scraped the bridge with his head. Peter however took no chances and carried his kayak round the bridge, to much ribbing from the group.
On our right we passed King Johns 13th century castle from where he rode out to put his seal on the Magna Carta in 1215.The canal then passed over the River Whitewater and we had reached our final destination. We back paddled into the Greywell Tunnel for a photo shoot by Peter.
The way back was reasonably uneventful. Peter rose to the challenge and successfully paddled under the low bridge. A few stopped for a break but I decided to carry on as I am slow and stopping would have meant getting out – which would mean another chance to capsize!
We were just a few miles from the Barley Mow when Phil had to rescue a frightened dog who was unable to get back up the bank. Both the dog and the owner were grateful.
We rejoined Carole for a great lunch at the Barley Mow before heading back to the club: She had been happy to paddle at her own speed as she was doing a shorter course.
Before the trip I was very worried that a) I would be too slow b) that it would be too far and c) that my kayak would fall off my v bars and end up on the M3. However, Phil had reassured me that as this trip was on very gentle waters I could turn round if I felt I had had enough and paddle back to the start point and everyone was so friendly and helpful. (Normally a trip group will paddle together in fairly close contact)
If any other improvers are wondering about going on a trip, I would say go for it. Just pick a trip that you feel you can manage. I was tired but very pleased that I had completed the trip.