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PADDLING, SHOOTS, AND TEAPOTS.

Myself, Jenny, Paul, Norma, Catilin, Andrew, Michele and our trip leader Dan, find ourselves climbing into three canoes and one double kayak on a small slipway at the end of Tonbridge Castle car park. It’s October 7 around 10.00am and it is slightly raining and cold enough to be wearing a fleece. This is our launch site for an eighteen-mile, nine lock trip down the River Medway, from Tonbridge to Maidstone.

Within half a mile of starting we find ourselves at Tonbridge Town Lock, but to our disappointment the canoe shoot is not in use. So, we decide to haul our boats over the barrier and pull them down the shoots brushes anyway. Far more fun than just an ordinary portage. Porters Lock is the third on our journey and it’s our first flowing shoot. Down we go, a bit wobbly at first but great fun. All a little bit more excited now and we can’t wait for the next one. We paddle forward.

One thing you notice about the Medway is that it is just not busy. We came across three moving boats all day. There’s plenty of birds crossing from one bank to the other and at one point we followed a Kingfisher for about a mile or so. There’s plenty of fishermen also, all happy to say hi and let us know what they have or have not caught, but apart from that it’s all nice and quiet.
The canoe shoot at Oak Lock is steeper than the previous and after shooting it we all decide to stop and have a bite to eat and a drink. Flapjacks and flasks are taken from dry bags as Dan decides he’s going to run the shoot again, on his own this time. We all watch, cameras at the ready, was that a wobble, no, perfectly executed. At Sluice Lock the excitement builds, as this is by far the steepest shoot. Catilin and I are the first to go over. Catilin is up front and gets a lap full of the Medway as we come crashing down. The water throws itself into our canoe by the bucket load. Paul and Michele come down behind us with the same intensity, followed by Dan and Jenny and then Andrew and Norma. We all take five minutes to empty our boats.

There’s a pub called the Anchor Inn at Hampstead Lock and this is our destination for lunch. However, when we arrive the pub is closed and boarded up. What a spot of luck this turns out to be, for on the opposite bank we spy the Teapot Island. A café boasting a museum of around eight thousand tea pots. Featured in the Guinness Book of Records in 2004 for the largest collection, but cruelly snatched away in 2011 by a man in China who has amassed a whopping thirty thousand. A few of us order lunch while a couple of us are told about the time Prince Charles and Camilla came and viewed the collection and about the Prime Minister, who actually bought one, for they sell them as well. Michele orders a pot of tea. Whilst we were sitting eating and chatting, (Hamptoneers second favourite pastime) the heavens opened, so we dragged our heals a little and this gave Jenny an excuse to buy an ice cream.

Teston Lock was to be our finial shoot of the day, again, great fun and once down, completely dry this time, we paddled towards Eastfarleigh Lock. Once past this we have our longest stretch of paddling between Locks, four and a half miles. We enter the urban fringes of Maidstone and as the river slowly bends left you are taken aback by the fantastic grade 1, mullion windowed Archbishops Palace that sits on the right bank, a truly beautiful building. Old and new sitting comfortably next to each other here, with the reasonable new House of Frazer department store sitting very close by. Another half mile brings us to Allington Lock and the end of our journey.

Eighteen miles of paddling and running canoe shoots in the county known as the Garden of England. The weather was all over the place, throwing a little bit of everything at us, but the scenery was glorious and the paddling was made slightly easier for we had a slight wind on our backs for a good part of it. The modernising of the Locks has been undertaken with paddlers in mind and for this reason there was hardly any canoe carrying involved, apart from the Jobsworth, the high bank and the health and safety incident, but I’m not going to mention that, it’s too crazy for words and I still can’t get my head round it.

Thanks to all my fellow paddlers for a great days paddling. To Andrew, Jenny and Paul for bringing all the paddlers and boats back home to Hampton and especially to Dan for organising the day.

Peter McBride

Paddling at Night

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Paddling at night

When the clocks have gone back the Wednesday night club paddles will finish for the winter and will start up again in the spring.

Hamptoneers of course still go out paddling after dark but in informal groups – not as regular official club trips, although there are some organised club night paddles.

Paddling after dark can be a great experience on a calm night with the reflections of boat and street lights it can be very tranquil. But there are a few extra precautions to take:-

1. Put a white light fore and aft on your boat so that other boats can see you, (put them in a small clear bag if not waterproof) a head torch is also very useful as the light is much higher above the water so visible further afield and the wobbling of your head makes it easier to see. Also if you end up in the water the light will make you easier to spot if you get separated from your boat.

2. Wear reflective clothing and/or light coloured clothing, reflective strips on your paddle are also good to catch attention.

3. Keep an extra sharp lookout for rowing boats which can be travelling very fast and their light is very low down so not always easy to see.

4. Ideally, go out with a partner so you can keep an eye on each other in case either gets into difficulty.

5. Wear a PFD

Phil Tauwhare

Club Fun Regatta

There was a good turnout of Hamptoneers for the annual fun regatta on a fine, sunny Saturday in early September. Maxine did a brilliant job of organising proceedings – many thanks to her for making the day happen together with her helpers who did shopping (Tamra) , BBQ and cooking (Frank).

We were split into two teams, the Hamptoneers and the Westellers, who battled each other for points in each event to win overall.

We did warm up exercises with the paddles requiring co-ordination and agility….

There was the canoe race with the aim to paddle a canoe along the river and then portage back, it was a close run event…

The next canoe race was a push-me – pull-you event…which was much more tricky than you might think…

There were races with hands only paddling, going backwards seemed to be fastest…

Then races with one canoe paddle, left handed kayak paddle and all three together!

And lastly a competition to collect the most tennis balls…

With boats going every which way!

We then all headed back to the club side of the river for a BBQ with loads of delicious food – thanks to all for making a really fun morning of kayaking and canoeing.

 

2017 Hare and Hounds pictures

 

Congratulations to all who took part in the last race which brings this summer series to a close. Thanks to everyone who has taken part or helped with the timing, especially Derek and Dan.

Conditions were almost perfect, a light cooling wind, no fishermen and just a few rowers out on the water. The first person home was John Stafford, followed by Anne-Lise and Frank Bench. We had just one capsize and also one new racer – Frank Bench who has just recently joined the club. After the race we had a prize giving…

Prizes were awarded to the following

Veteran male : Rupert Brown
Senior male : Catalin Suvei

Veteran Ladies : Val Double
Senior Ladies : Jenny John Chuan

Best Newcomer – Ladies : Loz Blake
– Men                                  : Rich Rands

Special Award for 3 fastest K2 times with 3 different ladies! Peter Loy

See full results here

Below are a few pictures that Dan took at the last race.

Head of the Thames: Cricklade to Newbridge

Head of the Thames: Cricklade to Newbridge – 27 miles

Day 1 = 10 miles Cricklade to Lechlade 0 locks

Day 2 = 17 miles Lechlade to Newbridge 5 locks + 1 canoe shoot
car shuttle: Cricklade, car parking on near-by street; Newbridge, car park of Rose Revived (by request).

12 – 13 August 2017

Trip Leader Sarah
Peter Mac, Maxine, Paul, Stephen
2 canoes, 1 Easky

Day 1 Launch at Abingdon Court Lane, Cricklade.
Lunch in meadow.

Overnight camping at Bridge House Farm, Lechlade, 300m across field from get-out.

Day 2 Launch at Lechlade, 10 metres downstream of bridge, south bank. Break at picnic tables by Radcot Lock (after canoe shoot, get-out at jetty on opposite bank for boats waiting to use lock upstream). Lunch at Rushey Lock (where there’s a shower, toilets and camp site).

This is a fascinating and beautiful stretch of the Thames. The first day (of 10 miles) comprises 4 – 5 hours of tree trunks, hawthorn, shallows and reeds – the river never much more than 20 feet wide and with the narrowest passages for a kayak or canoe to push through. A lovely day, quiet country, good company and only 3 boats to cut a route – a route impossible with a fixed rudder and super difficult in a K2. We saw a handful of kayakers early on and some of the trees showed saw marks, and though the water was often shallow we got out only once where a fallen tree was blocking our way. With enough water below the hull to drown a giant there was no way we could drag the boats through the water. Paul solved the puzzle: by climbing onto the biggest branches we could haul the canoes over (and the Easky under) the obstruction, playing the boats until we could get in them again without falling in.

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After a picnic in a meadow (there are no supplies en route and no easy get-outs), and 7 miles or so into the journey, the Thames gets a little wider until, a mile or so short of Lechlade it shrugs off the undergrowth. A couple of small powered boats appeared. We camped at Lechlade, hauling the boats across a pasture to the camp site (showers etc). Lechalde has late shops and at least four pubs. The Swan was friendly and the food simple, good and cheap. The New Inn is a big coaching stop and has rooms to rent in the stables out back. The Riverside pub is wretched, leave it alone.

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Day 2 we launched at 8.45 and finished at 15.00. A perfect morning, not too hot. More boats now but the river still tranquil. Isolated locks, the first unmanned at that time of day and requiring a short portage of our well-laden boats. Helpful lock-keepers and a very generous boater got us into three other locks and, at Radcot Lock – whey hey – a curling canoe shoot a good 100 metres long: turn, turn, whizz, turn, splash. Brilliant. And no-one fell in. We had a picnic on the opposite bank at the end of the shoot, tying up at the stage for upstream boats waiting to enter the lock (and keeping ours out of the way). There, steps lead to picnic benches.

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Even with locks and stops our speed on day 2 averaged around 3 mph. With no flow, twists and turns and the river like glue where the reeds grew under the surface, it was a demanding day – hot in the sun. But with some determined paddling we reached the Rose Revived at 3pm. The pub is next to a busy road over a narrow bridge but the Thames Path runs into a quieter patch of meadow and a float for a canoe club (unnamed) where I swam.

The Rose Revived has less charm than Newport Pagnell Services, but it does have food if you need it and you can sit by the river.

Notes: carry food, take minimum kit, don’t take a delicate kayak or a K2, be ready to fend off thorns. Ear plugs handy for the camp site at Lechlade.

[Personal note, I had an ever-more painful back injury; Maxine, Sarah, Paul and Peter were true Hamptoneers, portaging for me, getting me in and out and Maxine letting me paddle her Easky – a change of seat that got me to the end – a thousand thanks to you all]

Stephen Morris – August 2017

Wye trip summer 2017

14-16 July 2017

15 of us attended this trip, most were camping, some bed and breakfast and two camper-vans. The first night after pitching tents we set off for team bonding at the Spread Eagle Hereford…..

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Read Jill’s full account here 

The River Mole Chainsaw Massacre

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‘Don’t forget your crash helmets’ was the last email from Dan Bownds a couple of days before what I thought was going to be a gentle paddle through the Surrey Hills. The start point was a small residential road in Brockham which looked a bit crowded after five cars and canoes moved in. Ever conscious of the BCU code of conduct we started a ‘polite and friendly’ conversation with a local resident who asked us to keep a look out for some gardening equipment that had been stolen including a new chainsaw…. read Dan Taylors full trip account here

Sardinia 2017

17 paddlers and a few tourists made the club’s annual pilgrimage to the warm waters and blue skies of the Mediterranean this year.

The ink is now dry on the final trip report written by Maxine. Read it here 

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Barley Mow to Mytchett

 Basingstoke canal explorer 2017 : leg 2
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All packed and loaded, we headed off to the Barley Mow ready to launch. Conditions were good, the canal was calm, and we were ready to go on the second outing to the Basingstoke canal – to cover the next 13 miles eastbound from the paddle that took place earlier this year on the first 10 miles.
Then 15 mins in – progress was stopped. Signs indicated that the footpath and the river navigation was closed.  At this point we continued to paddle – as we had er…only made it 1/2 a mile.  We could scrape past the works floating platform – but then became hindered by a sharp ‘chicane’ blocked by a floating yellow rubber boon across the canal which stood a ‘huge’ 4 inches above the water line.  The sea kayak of Andrew and Norma, as well as the canoe of Sarah and Steven could push past – but the K1’s and K2’s just bounced back.  Sarah came up with a plan to put the Sea kayak one one side and the Canoe on the other side – pushing down on the barrier – to allow us ‘more delicate’ kayaks to paddle through the middle.  A new technique was born (well it was new to me) – and I for one was grateful – good teamwork all round.
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We made smooth progress moving along – with just wildlife and the odd walker/jogger to be seen along the bank.
A brief stop at the Fox and Hounds on the outskirts of Fleet (or Church Cookham as the pub address proudly indicates) revealed a modern pub (alas closed) with good mooring.  A welcome and er….exciting fusion of spanish and english was had with flapjacks from Paul and Chorizo from Norma.
Further relaxed progress was made, south on Farnborough airfield.  We passed the place where previously – the infamous ‘worlds angriest swan’ lay waiting for unsuspecting paddlers.  All swans we passed on the day seemed most chilled.  So far so good.
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We made a late stop for luch at Ash Lock – which fortunately was easy to disembark at.  The solitary picnic table was free and the sun was shining.  We were alone save for the busy road nearby but we were soon joined by a gaggle/skein of inquisitive geese – hungry for any leftovers.  The K1’s could be manhandled under the bridge via a footpath, whereas the longer/wider craft were carried over the busy road – with traffic begrugingly stopping when necessary.
Continuing our journey, the canal passed over the A331 via an aqueduct – alas a bit too tricky to exit out of due to indented banking (probably designed to stop inquisitive paddlers…).   Further along there were several areas where the canal opens out into small lakes, with the last being Mytchette Lake – which for me was a first as I’ve never paddled in a ‘lake’ before.  Alas much of it was cordened off as it’s a wildlife reserive – but for me – it was a taste of the Canadian Lakes in er…Farnborough.
Our trip ended at the Basingstoke Canal centre – with cafe facilities, clean(ish) loos and it’s obvioulsy popular with the locals. Here you can hire peddelos & rowing boats. Whilst we waited for transport, we watched a familiy with their brand new 2 man inflatable kayak – lot of laughs but boy it looked a bit unstable and seemed to be visibly deflating. Worth suggesting to the comittee that the club should get several inflatable Kayaks….?!! Maybe not.
Thanks to all paddlers for making it a grand day out.
Paddlers:
Phil Tauwhare, Michelle Sugrue, Paul Scott, Andrew Wallace, Norma Morris, Sarah Potter & Steven

 

Silly Hats and Cardboard canoes

Go Canoeing week is a time to get out on the water in whatever type of craft you can imagine wearing something a bit wacky, Dan organised a Silly Hats paddle followed the next day by a Cardboard Canoe outing. Here are some pictures….

cardboard_paul1Paul shows off his new construction

cardboard_paul2It floats! And he paddles round and round!

cardboard_paul4After 12mins and 30 seconds Paul’s cardboard boat would float no more!

cardboard_paul3Proud winner of the  inaugural ‘Cardboard Canoe Award’, made fittingly from cardboard!

Arun river paddle

Sarah, Stephen,Maxine and Paul headed down to the Black Rabbit at Arundel to launch onto the river Arun for a tidal assisted trip up to Pullborough and back. Trip account coming soon… Here are a few pictures. (May 2017)

maxine amberley gap paul heading up stream returning on the tide amberley bridge

Prize giving 2017

Hamptoneers came from near and far by canoe, kayak, bike, car and Adam ran up the towpath to be at the Annual club prize giving at the Weir pub on Saturday. A few extras turned up but seats were found for all, lunch taken with a drink or two before Phil turned to the serious matter of the day, handing out the prizes for mileage paddled, DW achievements and other more light hearted awards – see full details below. If you were not there to collect your award we’ll get it to you somehow.

Sarah took a few pictures for the record – here they are.

IMG_20170513_132255857Phil presents Maxine with Ladies Champion trophy
IMG_20170513_132714030Andrew and Christine win the over 65’s mileage shield
IMG_20170513_141739904Tony and Richard win the Devizes Westminster fastest straight through boat trophy
IMG_20170513_133821423Jill wins the Most improved member IMG_20170513_133743945Derek wins Best Xmas lights
IMG_20170513_133642574Peter Mac – best singer IMG_20170513_133455212 Dan Bownds – best DW support crew
IMG_20170513_133254814Barnet – 500 miles of DW trophy .

 

Prize Awarded to
   
Ladies champion Maxine Nelson
Mens champion Peter Loy
Vet ladies champion Chris Bockett
Vet mens champion Andrew Wallace
   
Fastest Westel overnight boat Tony Leworthy and Richard Fisher
DW Courage and Determination – Robin Cooke Memorial Cup Jenny John Chuan
Fastest DW solo paddler Peter Loy
DW endeavour Daniel Taylor and John Whitwam
500 miles of DW  (4 DW’s) Barnet Heeley
DW Triple Mike Channon
   
DW supporter Dan Bownds
HCC best newcomer trophy Elizabeth Flint
Highest mileage newcomer Daniel Taylor
Best singer Peter McBride
Best roller Elliot Loy
Best Christmas Lights Derek Heath
Most improved Member Jill Cox
Most determined paddler Trisha Stonebridge

Barley Mow to Greywell Tunnel


Saturday 29th March 2017 Trip on the Basingstoke canal

GreywellTunnel29Apr2017At the entrance to the Greywell tunnel

As a relatively new club member, this trip was to be my furthest paddle yet. 10 miles from the Barley Mow to Greywell. A group of 14 paddlers, a double canoe and a K2, the rest in K1’s. The weather was cloudy but the season presented us with plenty of baby chicks following proud Mum’s who sounded the odd warning to us to back off!!

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Peter, of course, was in fine form, informing us of the year each bridge we passed under was built. I guess reading the plaques made him feel intelligent? Tamra braved a viper with no mishaps. Michelle, apparently wearing 4 layers of clothing, would surely have sunk had she fallen in!! As we approached Greywell, (where a gate in the canal prevents further access) it became quite an obstacle course of reeds and water plants. Looking into the water was quite fascinating, like paddling through an overgrown lush green garden.

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After turning around, we stopped for a snack break at Odiham castle. All but one wimp braved the 2ft step-up to get onto the bank. The group took pity on the wimp…. passing down cakes…. Thanks guys!! Yum!! One lucky dog got a real treat….stolen flapjacks, curtesy of Paul. The poor dog-owner was mortified!!

Amanda, faced with the big step down to get back into her K1, had a tiny moment of panic but she braved it out admirably. Next came the really low bridge. We had all made it through on the outward journey, literally having to lie on top of our boats… but Alan clearly had too many cakes… and took a small blow to the head causing an impromptu dunking! Alan, thank you… for once it was someone other than me!

On returning to the Barley Mow, cars were loaded up and 14 hungry paddlers sat down to some great pub grub and a good old natter.

Thanks, Phil, for leading and coordinating a great day out

Trisha Stonebridge

Jubilee river trip

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……… read Alan’s full trip report here

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Devizes to Westminster race – 2017

This Easter weekend 8 intrepid Hamptoneers will be competing in the Devizes to Westminster canoe and kayak race (DW).

Barnet, Jenny, Peter and late entrant Mike will be racing K1’s in the 4 day race, together with Dan and John in a K2.

Tony and Richard are racing in the non-stop event in a C2.

See below for details on their boat numbers to track them online.

Singles and Endeavour (starts Friday 14th and finishes Monday 17th)

Peter Loy – Viper 51, race number 736

Mike (Peter) Channon – Viper 51, race number 774

Jenny John Chuan – Viper 55, race number 737

Dan / John – Rorqual, race number 611

Barnet – own boat, race number 754

  Non-stop Doubles (starts on Saturday 15th and finishes Sunday 16th)

Tony and Richard – own canoe, race number 332

All crews will have trackers which can be followed on the DW website (tracking pages now live)  http://www.dwrace.org.uk/ . There are separate links for mobile devices.

Below are provisional timings we are using for the support crew when the first K1’s (Peter/Mike) will be coming through.

The non-stop paddlers will pass by Hampton early on Sunday morning (approx 8:30am but check progress on the tracker)  to make the high tide at Teddington.

 

Day Location Provisional Times
Day 1
Friday
14th April
Devizes to Newbury  
Wotton Rivers 09.45
Crofton Pumping Station 11.15
Hungerford 12.30
Kintbury 13.00
Newbury Leisure Centre 14.15
Day 2
Saturday
15th April
Newbury to Marlow  
Aldermaston Wharf 08.45
Marsports (Dreadnought Reach) 11.15
Marsh Lock 12.15
Hurley 13.15
Marlow 14.30
Day 3
Sunday 16th April
Marlow to Thames Young Mariners
Boulters Lock 08.15
Bell Weir / Runneymede 11.15
Shepperton Lock 12.45
Hampton CC 13.30
Thames Young Mariners 14.45
Day 4
Monday 17th April
Thames Young Mariners to Westminster
 Mass Start 07.05
Putney Slipway 08.30
Westminster 09.30