Sunday 19 October 2014

Pathfinding on the Wey, from Pyrford Lock southwards

Paddlers : Lucy, Sarah, Stuart, Dave, Stephen

On a beautiful day with a strong southerly breeze and a good flow, we launched kayaks to explore the Wey, heading south along the navigation through Walsham Gates and Newark Lock. Half a mile after Newark Lock and 35 minutes into the paddle we turned west, leaving the navigation (the Broadmead Cut, here) for the backwaters of the old river.
What did we know? That if we paddled for a couple of miles or so we’d get to an old factory straddling the river, where we could portage across a field and launch again, dodging a weir and in the blink of an eye, make the navigation once more to make a fine round trip.
What we didn’t know was that the river, rural, remote and fast-flowing, had other plans. After 45 minutes of great paddling and threading the boats through fallen branches we came up against a small wood that had upped itself and now lay like a sleeping dog across our path. With no chance of landing or portage we turned our noses to the flow and with a strengthening wind shot back the way we’d come… read Stephens full report from the link on the trip reports page.
Back at Newark, and game for more adventure, we turned into the Abbey Stream, a reputedly private waterway for which we took the precaution of scrawling “Kingston Canoe Club” on our boats! before paddling to the ruins of Newark Priory, victim of Henry’s break with Rome and later, locals stealing its stones for roads.  Crows or rooks, I couldn’t see which, were riding the wind, screeching and diving above the walls. A short way past the abbey we hit the expected obstruction that stops kayakers making it a round trip, and so headed back to join the river once more.
Returning to Pyrford, on the stretch of water before the Wey meets the navigation at Walsham Gates, heads and hands to the paddle we outpaced a chugging narrow boat. The tillerman wasn’t amused.
With twists and turns we logged around 8.5 miles in 3 hours, with seat of pants manoeuvring through lovely country and no dunkings.  Joy!

Stephen Morris