The Swan & the Tidal Thames

Sunday 26th April 2015

The weather forecast for London Marathon day was not promising & we were all starting to plan our excuses to Mark, as trip leader of The London Apprentice Sunday morning paddle. But Mark must have said a few words to someone up there because the rain stopped before we set off for the Isleworth car shuttle and stayed away for the rest of the morning! After leaving three cars at Isleworth, packed with dry clothing (I was expecting to get very wet!) we, Mark, Jenny, Sarah & I set off to meet Stephen and Peter (no Richard in sight!) at the club. So six of us left promptly in K1s at 10am into calm waters heading to Molesey Lock.

The Molesey Lock portage was slightly under water and therefore slippery, but successfully through that, we continued with very calm conditions until Ravens Ait. There and into Kingston the wind picked up just a bit, the waves slightly choppier and a few more boats passed by. Four of us decided to stretch our legs & rehydrate near to the Kingston Rowing Club before continuing on, enjoying the relatively mild, calm weather, to Teddington Lock to join up with the others.

Mark warned us upon arrival at the lock portage to stay left – there was a nesting swan on the right ramp of the portage! We fairly quietly passed the swan and admired its ability to gather huge quantities of wood as nesting material! Getting back into the boats at Teddington Lock was tricky due to the height of the portage platform but successfully achieved by all & the adventure on to the Tidal Thames began ….

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…It was so quiet. I thought eerily so. I don’t think we passed any boats other than rowers & sailors, who were struggling with the lack of any wind. I had thought that the Tidal Thames would suddenly become this great wide gushing expanse of water with working boats passing us at speed. But it wasn’t so. As Mark pointed out, there was little change in the water conditions because he had timed it to perfection to join the tide on the turn, thus taking us sedately downstream. Also it was Sunday lunchtime. And everyone else was watching the Marathon on TV.

Richmond

Jenny & I debated the naming of the bridges as we passed between Richmond & Twickenham (or was it Twickenham then Richmond?), before stopping at the weir. Having been warned by Mark about the currents on the other side, I had been a bit nervous, but watching Peter & Mark slide down the weir ramp whilst carrying boats proved highly entertaining and was a welcome light relief!

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Getting going again was a bit of a challenge – I was keen to reverse off the platform but was advised to get the boat afloat first – always a good idea! Jenny had a few issues with the flow, or was it her rudder at fault?! However, it wasn’t long before we were all on the home stretch and doing a bit of last minute bird-spotting. After negotiating round the sudden arrival of a group of rowers, we finally beached ourselves in Isleworth at The London Apprentice for a well-deserved Sunday lunch.
Thanks to Mark for a very enjoyable and perfectly timed trip.

Amanda Gostelow

Photos by Mark

 

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