Paddling the pleasant waters of the Shire

Seven Hamptoneers braved the cold weather early last Saturday morning and set off for Swanwick near Southampton for the start of our journey on the river Hamble. There was Mark & Stuart in Tercels, Derek in a Cirrus, Jenny in a Hobby, Norma & Andrew in a Rorquel and myself in a Rockpool sea kayak (kindly borrowed from Andrew).

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First we paddled through the harbour at Swanwick, upstream with the flood (incoming) tide through a channel marked with buoys for the motor boats which didn’t seem to follow the way the river flowed and the tide wanted to go, creating a few cross streams and whirlpools! Luckily there wasn’t any wash to deal with. After passing under a few bridges we were into the countryside where there were some dippers wadding in the reed beds catching fish.

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At a fork in the river we took the left-hand fork to explore a side-arm of the river up to Botley.  There was a lot of twisting and turning around the reed beds and over-hanging branches. We went under a very low bridge and got to a dead end where there was a large weir. There was a small channel to one side I tried to explore but there was a log blocking the way, forcing me to reverse the sea kayak back out.

 

We all turned around and started heading back. The first to go under the low bridge was Derek accompanied by a loud bang, as he hit his head against a pipe under the bridge! Ouch!!! Much to our surprise the tide has risen at least six inches between the time we reached the bridge and before heading back.

When we got back to the junction we headed up the other channel towards the Horse and Jockey pub. An iron bridge was blocking our path, the jetty at the pub was underwater so most of us got out on the grassy bank without getting are feet wet.

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There was a few canoes moored at the pub whilst their paddlers were having a few beers enjoying the sunshine and waiting for the tide to turn. After a nice pub lunch and a few light beverages we headed back down the river, the tide had gone out a bit so we could use the jetty to get back into our boats.

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On the way back down the river there was a light breeze but nothing too hard for us Hamptoneers, We only come across one motor boat and he was kind enough to slow down for us. Once back to the cars Norma & Andrew gave as a treat of chocolate biscuits and dates and then we all headed back to Bell Hill.

Thanks to Andrew for organising a really enjoyable trip also to  my fellow paddlers for their good company.

Daniel Bownds

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