The Jubilee River is a hydraulic relief channel for the Thames in Berkshire. It is 11.6 km (7.2 mi) long and is on average 45 metres (148 feet) wide. It was constructed in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s to take overflow from the River Thames and so alleviate flooding to areas in and around the towns of Maidenhead, Windsor, and Eton in the counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. It achieves this by taking water from the left (eastern) bank of the Thames upstream of Boulter’s Lock near Maidenhead and returning it downstream of Eton.
We started our Journey just below Marsh Lane Weir, where there’s a free car park, this is about 2 miles down the jubilee river away from the start, the reason for starting here is mainly easy access to the river.
There are fiver weirs on the Jubilee River and two of them you must portage, one very dangerous weir at the start of the jubilee river Taplow Weir, which has a large under cut and the weir at Marsh Lane which also an under cut, where we started.
There were only four of us on this trip, Andrew in his yellow P & H Scorpio sea kayak, Stuart in a Tercel and Barnet & myself in a canoe.
Apart from the distant sound of the M4, the Jubilee River is very tranquil with lots of bird life living in the reed beds and trees surrounding the river, we saw several Red Kites circling above us.
We all had a go at shooting the last three weirs after inspecting them beforehand. The first weir at Manor Farm we were lucky to see two other kayaks go down before we attempted them. I attempted to reduce the amount of water the canoe took on by shifting my weight to the middle of the canoe, but we still took on a bit of water. See the video here.
When we got to Slough Weir, this is a smaller weir, we ran it in the canoe, then Andrew ran it in the sea kayak and then Stuart ran it! But in the sea kayak. Video
The last weir was under Black Potts Viaduct, after a quick inspection, Barnet and myself ran it in the canoe and Andrew in the sea kayak. Video
After the last weir you turn a corner and then you re-join the river Thames, which was racing along at a good pace to take us downstream.
One of the trip options I was planning was to turn back upstream and paddle back up the river Thames to Boulter’s Lock, but with the Thames flowing fast at the moment this would have been impossible. So we continued downstream toward old Windsor lock and then on to the “Bells of Ouzeley” Pub for the get out.
We covered a total distance of 9.3 miles in 3 hours.
Video from the Environment Agency on how the Jubilee River works