Jubilee river to Bells of Ouzeley

Jubilee River to the Bells of Ouzeley Pub

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.

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All calm

The Jubilee is (for an Improver) – a great river to navigate. Plenty of wildlife (several herons looked miffed as we paddled by ‘on their turf’), no other kayaks/pleasure ships/Turks steamers creating waves, and several bridges to add a bit of man made scenery – including one leaving 5 foot between river and concrete bridge – maybe not one for the claustrophobic amongst us.

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The Great Lakes in Canada or er….Slough?

There’s the distant rumble of the M4 in the distance – which turns into a more natural sound when you approach the weirs. Yep – weirs – and that was the attraction for me – a chance to go over a weir! Hence the use of Easky’s for stability and robustness – and no fear of smashing rudders.

The first weir – and the biggest – meant a moment to take stock, a gulp of water, and the chance to put on the protective helmet. Dan did the initial check – with all his years of experience the advice was provided with a sage look – ‘just give it some speed at the top and mind the wobble at the bottom’. Duly noted – the additional advice of look before you leap also applies to weirs – there was a large tree branch in the middle on the way down.

There is a choice to avoid the weirs – but the weirs are easier to navigate that doing the portage – with the last and smallest weir having a option to moor next to a 4 foot wall before clambering over a fence. After the last weir – under a viaduct – which made it look somehow more menacing that it actually was – we joined the Thames.

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Alan midway through second weir

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Third and final navigable weir

It was a scenic paddle past the curve of the grounds of Windsor Castle – with a chance for a few pictures. The other bank having the usual selection of multi-million pound houses – (so a bit like Thames Ditton then….).

We Stopped for a snack at Old Windsor Lock – no cafs but Paul providing a welcome supply of Flapjacks. From there is was a relatively short distance to the Bells of Ouzeley to exit the river at 12:30 and to pack all the gear for the subsequent trip back on a crowded M4 home.

All in all – great weather – fine company – calm waters and an extra bonus experience of running three weirs. All good stuff.

A big thanks to Dan for arranging, for lifts, and for being official photographer, and to Paul for snack provision and for keeping to a paddling speed that I could manage.

Alan Musto