The River Mole has an inauspicious start rising as it does amid the high octane fumes of jets departing from Gatwick, but after a few miles it approaches Box Hill and winds back and forth around the hills of Surrey and Dorking to ultimately meet the Thames opposite Hampton Court. We (Dan, Phil, Jenny and Tony) decided to explore the section between Brockham, east of Dorking and Fetcham on the western outskirts of Leatherhead last Saturday, this is a pictorial record of our journey.
The get-in at Brockham was interesting with a steep nettle covered bank, As Jenny lowered one canoe down to Dan standing by the river she slipped and it hurtled down the bank, knocking poor Dan into the water.
Oh dear – at least he was wearing his all-in-one boiler suit!
And the swift current soon whizzed then onwards and out of sight.
Tony and I were determined to learn from Jenny and Dan’s mistakes and managed to get on-board with dry feet and only a few nettle stings.
Tony was in the stern to start with, and Phil in the bow.
We passed an elderly gentleman painting by the side of the river.
He was quite surprised to have any company and almost fell in the river when we greeted him with a loud ‘What a lovely morning for painting!”
Soon after we had to scramble up this bank to portage Pixham weir.
At least there was a nice grassy field at the top where we rested a moment to take a few pictures.
Box Hill is behind us in the distance
This is Pixham weir from the foot bridge above.
We got back in at the little beach on the right.
We had a mixture of very calm water…
Tony, doing the one knee kneel method of steering.
Dan and Jenny having a battle with the trees!
Yet more trees and branches!
We almost come a cropper at the Stepping Stones as there is not enough water to get over them so Tony has to get his feet wet (Sorry Tony)
Jenny was the powerhouse in the bow whilst Dan leisurely tried to keep out of the trees!
There must have been an awful lot of water in the river to stack up all those massive branches, there was always a way through.
Danny and Jen squeeze past the blockage.
The main Leatherhead – Dorking rail line runs high overhead.
Jenny paddles past lush meadows and foliage.
Phil and Tony some distance behind.
Time for cake, pastries, biscuits, sandwiches , tea, juice and water
This is the weir near Norbury Park. We scrambled out on the left up a steep bank (this is on the right of the photo) and back in down an even higher, steeper bank. It might be possible to portage on the far bank.
This was the get-in after the portage.
Luckily there were lots of tree roots to provide some support as we scrambled back down to the water.
At first the route seems impassable…
But the left most arch has been opened up by some good person with a chainsaw!
Dan and Jenny manage to avoid the low concrete bridge!
We see the contemplative monk and make sure to say ‘hello’ or legend has it you will sink before reaching Ye Old Bridge at Leatherhead.
Tony and Phil contemplate the meaning of the contemplative monk!
He sits in this very pretty garden
We stopped by the Running Horse pub for another break.
The get-out is up a rather steep bank, just after the many arched old bridge. Phil manages to slip getting back in so ends up with a wet bottom and feet for the last few miles!
This is the Old Bridge from downstream, the approach is down a fast channel and the advice is to head hard left (right in this picture) to avoid blockages.
We finish off our sandwiches and cakes in the sunshine by Leatherhead old bridge.
This is the Leatherhead railway bridge, not far now to Fetcham and the end of our River Mole adventure.
We got out at Down Lane, Fetcham, pull up on the left in the right hand channel before a gravelly section.
Total distance was about 10 miles which took us 4 hours including stops, portages, and getting stuck occasionally on the shallows. A very enjoyable trip but care needs to be taken if there is any significant flow, i.e. if the water level at the Stepping stone is over the top of the stones then you will have a fast ride. Also we did the trip whilst the fishing season was closed, otherwise it is not advised!
Phil Tauwhare with pictures by Phil and Dan