29th December 2015

River Mole paddle, Kingfishers, Heron, Weirs, Cows and sheep rescues..

Up at the crack of dawn three Hamptoneers headed for the Surrey hills, with whitewater kayaks and kit ready to paddle the river Mole with Facebook Group PaddlePals, there were 10 of us in an assortment of boats, mainly white-water kayaks and one sit on top and a touring kayak.

We started our journey at Betchworth (Mill Lane) with a muddy walk to the get in, most of us got on the river via a slippery muddy bank, with the exception of one person seal launching off some tree routes.

We started down some small shallow rapids and meandered down the river at a gentle pace, with the occasional rapid and tree branches to dodge under.

The River Mole flows from Gatwick to Hampton were it joins the river Ember before entering the river Thames, it flows around Box Hill and through the Surrey Hills.

There is one large weir on this section of the river, this weir has a sloped face on it and a stopper at the bottom. Generally it is good practice to inspect weirs and rapids you are unsure of and not shoot them blind. The stopper on this weir can be very grabby and difficult in high water, and in low water there’s usually not enough water flowing over the weir to get down.

Someone in the group decided to shoot it without inspecting, lucky enough he made it down safely, but there were a few trees on the weir. I went down second once I knew the route to go, Peter followed me very promptly, as for some of the group they decided to have a look and after about 20 minutes Derek and the rest shot the weir, there was only one person who capsized here.

Here’s a link to the video I did of us shooting the weir.

We continued our journey on down the river with a few more trees to dodge and break through. One of them I got stuck in and had to use a pruning saw to trim the branches so the others could get through. There was a large tree to duck under, this time I let some else go through, it was a bit of a tricky one, as Derek went under the tree he capsized and quickly rolled back up, like a pro! That’s more than I can say for Peter who capsized, losing his hat, but luckily keeping his glasses!

As we continued there was a final small weir to go down, we all made it without incident.

I think the highlight of the trip was that we rescued a stranded sheep from the river, see the pictures later and on Facebook as it was a multi-person operation to haul the sheep up the bank to safety.

The get out was near a free car park in Leatherhead (Young Street), the bank was very muddy where a few of the group, started slipping and sliding around in the mud and we had another capsize.

It was a really good trip and the weather was also sunny and mild.

Thanks to Derek & Peter for doing the driving.

Dan Bownds