Hamptoneers Train with the ‘Blue Light’ Services


(and so make paddling a bit safer for all local paddlers)

Dan shows how to rescue a canoe

One Monday evening in June, eight excellent Hamptoneers paddled into Shepperton Marina, right round to the back where White Water The Canoe Centre has its base.  There they met two lifeboats from Surrey Fire & Rescue, who are based in Walton.

Two days later, the same excellent paddlers drove into a modern property development just downstream of Teddington Lock, where Teddington RNLI station is based.

On both evenings, the agenda was the same:  to provide the rescuers with experience and hints on how to rescue paddlers, kayaks and canoes; and to provide the paddlers with a greater understanding of how rescuers are likely to approach rescuing a paddler or their boat.  Our written plan is HERE   We’d done much the same with the RNLI back in November.

Surrey Fire & Rescue came with two different boats and a total of seven crew.  The RNLI had two identical boats, 13 crew and 3 helms, with a wide range of experience.  And along with the RNLI came two volunteers from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, trying to capture in writing what was being taught, so that the RNLI would have a permanent record of the training.

To start each evening, after introductions, Derek explained the features of our boats.  We had deliberately brought a wide range of club boats:  a canoe, a Cirrus K1, the Rorqual K2, a Scorpio sea kayak and the Ethos whitewater kayak.  He showed them the flotation, deck lines, toggles – handily available on some boats and not others.  And the first lesson in How To Empty a K1 was delivered.

Peter Loy then convincingly proved we’re not totally helpless:  he demonstrated rolling a sea kayak; a deep water rescue, sea kayak to sea kayak; and being rescued using the ‘Hand of God’ rescue.

On to the water:  Maxine, Dan, Andy and Jenny kept one boatload of rescuers busy with boats to empty.  And they were busy themselves, bringing out each boat, flooding it, providing hints on how to approach the problem, then taking the boat, wet but empty, back to the bank.

Meanwhile the other boatload of rescuers was occupied with recuing paddlers, who were feigning being ill or injured while sat in their boats.  Peter in a white water boat turned out to be easy to rescue:  they just grabbed the front handle and pulled him straight on to the lifeboat!  Paul was rescued from a sea kayak with a keyhole cockpit, as well as intentionally falling into the water and needing to be pulled out.

Last of all, the evening’s tough guy:  Michele, sitting in her sea kayak with its tiny ‘ocean’ cockpit, capsized and waited patiently upside down while the rescuers brought her back to the surface so she could resume breathing.  Then they extricated her onto the lifeboat.

The rescuers were very pleased with the evenings.  Surrey Fire & Rescue said “The watch were all very complimentary about the event itself and the members of the club. Please thank them all on our behalf for giving up their time and expertise so readily.”

RNLI said “Thanks so much yet again to you and your marvellous club-mates for a brilliant session last night.  Everyone enjoyed it and found it very informative and useful, especially our newer crew, many of whom were there.”  The RNLI issued a press release

Meanwhile I am writing an article for The Paddler ezine, hoping that other canoe clubs might read it and develop a habit of training with their local rescue services.  That would help make paddling a little bit safer.  And I am being asked “When shall we do it again?”

Rescue services Joint Training Plans – session plan (word document)

Andrew Wallace – June 2018

Hamptoneers taking part : Derek Heath, Michele Springall, Peter Loy, Paul Scott, Maxine Nelson, Dan Bownds, Jenny John Chuan and Andy Garbett


Christmas Lights Paddle

A large group of Hamptoneers decorated their canoes and kayaks to form a psychedlic travelling light-show for the traditional paddle down to Ye Olde Swan at Thames Ditton last Wednesday evening.

Paul Scott turned his canoe into a floating Xmas tree and was awarded the prestigious

‘Best Decorated Xmas Boat 2017’ 

RNLI training sessions with HCC

November 2017

Hampton CC has just had two excellent training sessions with Teddington RNLI.  In the past they’ve dealt with incidents with kayaks, so they were very receptive when approached with the idea of joint training.

 RNLI comes to Hampton

First of all, the RNLI came to Hampton, for a joint session with, and at, Hampton Sailing Club.  The RNLI told us that their patch includes tidal and non-tidal Thames from Richmond past Teddington to Molesey.  The crew are all volunteers living near the lock, 23 good souls in all, and they have two D Class lifeboats there.  They showed us how they react to a shout: they’re afloat within three minutes, which I think is amazing; and they get through Teddingon lock in one minute and forty seconds, which is astounding.  They shared with us sound wisdom about cold water, life jackets, etc.  23 Hamptoneers attended, together with 16 sailors and 7 from the RNLI.  Jenny organised a wonderful lunch for us all afterwards.


HCC goes to Teddington


The following weekend, which was last weekend, we went to their base on the ground floor of a modern block of flats near The Wharf restaurant just downstream of Teddington Lock.  In all we were nine, coaches or experienced paddlers.  We had given some thought to what we could do with the RNLI that would be worthwhile for them, so we planned the afternoon in three parts:

  • land-based briefing from Derek Heath and Mark Lewis:  they explained the features of our various boats, and how those differences impact rescues (we showed them a canoe, a WW boat, an open cockpit K1 and a sea kayak).  Then Derek and I demonstrated some of our rescue techniques, so they wouldn’t think we were completely clueless !
  • on the water, the RNLI rescued the various boats we’d brought. Peter Loy, Richard Fisher and Andy Garbett were on hand to flood the boats, and to explain and encourage effective rescues.  The open cockpit Cirrus was the most difficult to rescue, as you’d expect.
  • on the water, the RNLI rescued Mike Channon from his WW boat, Michele Springall from her sea kayak or Morten Lunde from his Nordkapp sea kayak with a tiny ocean cockpit (that wasn’t easy).  And they tried Hand of God rescues, plucking the ever-grateful Morten from his capsize.  Monitoring us all, ensuring that the RNLI didn’t run out of things to do, and taking the photos, was Charles Taylor.Over the course of the afternoon we trained with 15 of their crew (ie four boat crews), and they were grateful and appreciative, and were speaking of a continuing relationship, with another session envisaged for the spring.  What’s more, they’re setting up a similar session with another local club, Royal CC (we wouldn’t mind showing Royal how things should be done !!).

And what did the RNLI think of it all? Here is what their training co-ordinator said:

“I wanted to say, for myself and on behalf of all my crew who attended on Sunday 19, how truly fantastic you and your fellow paddlers were! We were all amazed and not a little humbled by the enthusiasm, expertise, hardiness (Morten may just win man of the match on that one), and sheer love of your sport that you all showed. My crew absolutely loved it and were still talking about the afternoon throughout our training on Tuesday – I think some are even keen on having a go themselves, inspired by you guys, and Hampton CC would be a natural port of first call for that after all we have seen.

“We have all learned some great lessons which will hopefully make us more effective, and the river a safer place for paddlers.
“As I said, should you wish us to lay on a station visit for families, particularly younger folk, we would be delighted to do so, and we are also very keen on a joint exercise in the spring.”
Andrew Wallace
You can see lots more pictures here

Leaves, weeds and portages

Saturday 18th November 2017

Mytchett to New Haw  –  Basingstoke canal

There are 28 locks on this 14 mile stretch of the canal so I was not that surprised that only two other Hamptoneers signed up for the trip of a lifetime! Paul who has not missed a trip since he joined the club and Jenny who is always up for a paddling challenge.

It was a grey, cloudy day but the main colour along the canal was the golden tinge of the Autumn leaves forming a carpet on the canal and blowing off the trees which line the canal from start to finish. There was no other boat traffic once we had left the top Mytchett pound and started descending the locks, just a few dog walkers, hikers and bikers along the towpath.

As the locks progressed we honed our portage routine to be able to hop out of our boats, haul them out of the water onto one shoulder, trot along to the lower end of the lock, drop boat in water and get paddling again to less than 60 seconds. This meant that before long we reached the end of the Frimley flight of 14 locks and got a paddle of about a mile on the pound to the top of the Brookwood lock flight. This is just three locks in quick succession before another nice 2 miles of paddling to the…. dry section of the canal.

In some lock pounds water had leaked out lowering the water level by a couple of feet which made getting out at the portage quite tricky and meant lying down on the river bank to reach down and retrieve your kayak.

We had been forewarned that locks 11 to 7 were being repaired and this section of canal would be ‘de-watered’. We had some food and water and then hoiked our kayaks onto our shoulders for the half mile walk to the next stretch of water. We stopped occcasionally to move the kayak from one shoulder to the other and before long reached the pound above the Goldsworth top lock (#11).

5 minutes later we paddled up to the Bridge Barn pub, a modern Beefeater place meant to look like an old barn. The lunchtime menu had a range of dishes for a fiver which were just what we needed in the middle of a long paddle, with 6 miles and 6 locks still to go you don’t want too large a lunch!

After lunch we had our longest uninterrupted paddle of 3.2 miles so with Paul powering ahead as leaf clearer fuelled by his gammon steak and chip lunch we were soon at the top of the final flight of locks (#6).

The Woodham lock flight is spread over one mile and before we knew it we had reached the apocryphal lock number ONE! Just an easy mile left down to New Haw, turning left onto the Wey navigation under the M25 bridge.

Boats were soon on the roof rack for the quick drive back to Mytchett to collect cars and return to the club house to clean down the boats which were plastered with leaves, twigs and various detritus from the canal.

We all agreed it was a very enjoyable if exhausting day out, next year anyone?

Phil Tauwhare

Basingstoke Canal distances and facilities
Parking Locks Miles
New Haw – Wey Easy above lock 0.7
Woodham Junction 0 0.0
Woodham bottom lock 1 0.3
Woodham lock #2 2 0.7
Woodham lock #3 3 1.2
Woodham lock #4 4 1.3
Woodham lock #5 5 1.5
Woodham top lock #6 6 1.6
Bridge Barn Pub Pub car park 4.8
Goldsworth bottom lock 7 5.3
Goldsworth lock #8 8 5.4
Goldsworth lock #9 9 5.6
Goldsworth lock #10 10 5.7
Goldsworth top lock #11 11 5.8
Brookwood bottom lock #12 12 7.4
Brookwood lock #13 13 7.5
Brookwood top lock #14 14 7.6
Frimley bottom lock #15 15 8.5
Frimley lock #16 16 8.8
Frimley lock #17 17 8.9
Frimley lock #18 18 9.1
Frimley lock #19 19 9.3
Frimley lock #20 20 9.5
Frimley lock #21 21 9.6
Frimley lock #22 22 9.7
Frimley lock #23 23 9.8
Frimley lock #24 24 10.0
Frimley lock #25 25 10.1
Frimley lock #26 26 10.3
Frimley lock #27 27 10.4
Frimley top lock #28 28 10.7
Mytchett Car park / café/ toilets 13.1
Ash Vale Station car park 14.2
Ash lock #29 29 16.4
Wharf bridge, Aldershot Car park 17.8
Eelmoor bridge Street parking 19.2
Pondtail Bridge Street parking 20.7
Reading Rd Car park 21.7
Fox and Hounds Pub Pub + street parking 22.3
Crookham Wharf Car park 23.8
Barley Mow Public car park 26.3
Colt Hill Bridge / Waterwitch Public car park 28.9
N Warnborough lift bridge Some parking 30.3
Odiham Castle 30.5
Whitewater winding hole 30.6
Greywell Tunnel 31.2

Autumn clean-up – many thanks to all who helped out

Last Sunday 29 October, a sturdy crew of HCC members turned up for the autumn clean-up. Some might suggest they were enticed by the offer of biscuits, but I’m sure it was pure dedication to the cause…

At 10am Jenny had upped the game by producing an array of delicious Paninis for the early volunteers – you know your Club is in Surrey when you are given the option of hummus and peppers. What a way to kick off our chores!

Dan and I had compiled a ruthless task list so I set people to work, and very soon we had a truck full of rubbish to go to the tip. We moved a lot of items to the toilet block as they are infrequently used, so now we have a much clearer, open space in the Clubhouse which will mean manoeuvring boats will be much easier.

A big thank you to:
• Ashley
• Frank
• Jenny
• John T
• Norma
• Paul D
• Peter McB
• Peter L
• Val
• With special mention to Richard Fisher for putting up the towel rail in the toilet block – who’d have thought it would make such an impact!

Thanks in advance to Leon and Andrew, who will be chopping back some of the vegetation at a later date.



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

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.


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.

DSCF1486 DSCF1485

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…..


Read Jill’s full account here 

The River Mole Chainsaw Massacre


‘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