On a very chilly morning a group of us loaded the canoes onto our cars and headed down to Kent. The plan was to do part of the Medway Canoe trail set in the beautiful countryside between Tonbridge and Yalding.
The satnav didn’t seem to cope well so it was after a few detours that we finally all ended up in the correct car park in Tonbridge. The group comprised Peter, Paul, Catelin, Frank, Maxine, Jenny, Kathy(me) & Dan (our Leader) from HCC with David(Kayak), James, and Hannah from PDCC along with a small bear.
Having unloaded the canoes, 6 people drove the cars to the end point at the pub in Yalding while the rest of us waited, keeping warm as best we could.
The Thames had been on yellow boards all week and the Medway was also showing the same so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately Dan had checked the water levels and confirmed that all looked well and he was right. The conditions were actually good no flow, no rain and no wind.
The section of the trail that we were doing had 6 locks on it. All of which had canoe passes. The plan was to do go down the passes with the option to portage for those (me) who didn’t fancy it.
We set off into the mist and after a few miles we arrived at the first pass. This was closed and had no water in it, but we were still able to use the pass to get the boats across rather than having to carry them around. Pass number 2 was open and was a very gentle descent past the lock. The next couple of passes were closed so we had to portage which also gave us an opportunity for a few well deserved snack breaks. Fortunately all along the trail there were good platforms making portaging a breeze with only the small bear falling in.
The rest of the passes were open including the final grade 3 pass at Sluice Weir lock which had a steep drop. This (I was told) was the most fun although they did all seem to get wet and fill their boats with water….. Having now seen the passes another time I would be braver and do them except maybe not the last one!
We ended the trip at Yalding at a handily placed pub in time for a late lunch.
This was a great trip just a nice length to paddle in a couple of hours through beautiful countryside, fuelled on Jelly Babies with good company and the added excitement of the canoe passes.
Dan also pointed out that this trip could also be run as an improvers K1 trip using the portages so maybe next summer once it is warmer ……
Thanks to Jenny for the Photos also see link above to view the Video taken by James.