3 Day Thames Trip, Sonning to Hampton, 17th-19th May 2019

3 Day Thames Trip, Sonning to Hampton, 17th-19th May 2019

Click on the link below  to view some video clips including the infamous lamb rescue.


Day 1, Sonning to Hurley Lock 12.4 mils,  3 locks, no portages.

We met at the club at a leisurely  9:00, to load 3 kayaks and  just one canoe, as John F had already taken a canoe the previous evening.

We arrived at Sonning at approx 10:30 where John F was waiting to meet us with his super fast sleek canoe. Then the task of cramming all our gear into the kayaks hatches, but this was made easier by the knowledge that anything that didn’t fit could go in John F’s car, as he was going to cycle back and fetch it once we arrived at Hurley lock !

Weather was overcast, but dry and not too cold. We departed about 11:00.

We stopped at the Angel on the Bridge, Henley for lunch. We chose a table outside near the bank and ordered our food. Then it was decided it was a bit chilly and windy on that table, so we moved to a sheltered one in the corner, and went and told barman that the 7 orders had changed tables.

After another 5 minutes  we moved again to a small inside bar,… orders amended to new location.

But the bar area didn’t have enough tables so we split into 2 groups in different parts of the pub, poor servers were chasing around trying to keep track of us.

Several of us ordered the small burgers, which when they arrived were surprisingly large and very good.

We paddled on,  and then I heard a couple on the bank, who had two dogs with them calling out to ask if we could help them, I paddled over, expecting to be asked to retrieve a ball from the water, only to be told “There’s a lamb in the water under the bushes”. Hmm, bigger job than I was expecting.  

The rest of our party arrived. The lamb was hiding under the bushes and bracken that overhung the steep bank,

I considered hopping out of my kayak, but it was about 3 feet deep, so instead Phil and Maxine manoeuvred their canoe in. The location of the lamb was found, and with a bit of persuasion from a paddle it was extracted from under the bushes, but it was hard to get hold off, and  there was no easy place to return it to dry land. Phil managed to grab it by a front leg and pull it out. Then with kayaks helping to hold the canoe in to the bank Phil stood up and passed the lamb to the guy on the bank.   Rescue accomplished, hail our hero Phil.

We paddled through Henley where the regatta course is marked by a  floating wood course boundary for about a mile. It was quite windy down the long course straight, waves even, so much so that when we reached a gap in the course boundary, we moved across to the edge of the river, even thought it looked like in the distance the boundary markers got closer and closer to the bank.

Frank questioned whether we would get stuck, I assured him it would be crazy if there wasn’t an exit, Frank decided to continue in the middle of the river, the rest of us went at the edge.

The more we paddled the narrower the gap between the floating log boundary and the bank became, until we reached the point where the logs were touching the bank. Oops.  So we then had the first portage of the trip, hauling the kayaks out and back in further along, whilst the canoe was pushed over the logs and passed to Mr Smug Frank, who towed it further along.

We arrived at Hurley lock campsite around 5:00 and first had a well earned coffee at the lock cafe, whilst John F, retrieved his bike that he had left there, and peddled (not paddled) off back to Sonning to collect his car!

The campsite entrance was via a high metal gate secured with a combination lock,  having paid our fees we had the combination, but sliding the lock bolt was a real fight.

Having setup our tents and used the nice hot campsite showers we proceeded to the Rising Sun pub to eat. There was a closer pub, The  Old Bell, but Frank had been advised by the lock keeper that it was a bit up market and expensive I think he meant too posh for us scruffy lot !

Anyway the food at the Rising Sun proved to be excellent.

We had a noisy nights sleep, with noisy geese, music from a nearby wedding, and according to just Frank, fireworks.  

Day 2 Hurley Lock to Boveney Lock 13.7mls,  5 locks, no portages.

Breakfasts were the usual porridge, biscuits etc, 

We were up early to be ready to watch Tamra fold up her pop up tent, which she had practised  and videoed at home!    After only about 4 attempts she succeeded and packed it away in its bag, quite impressive.   However 15 minutes later she was packing it up again ????. Apparently the first time she had left her shoes inside, doh.

We set off at 9:30  I seem to recall Phil saying something like we could stop for breakfast and coffee after a short paddle, … but somehow he missed it, and we paddled on until we reached The Bounty pub/cafe at Bourne End where we stopped for lunch. 

The Bounty is an unusual quirky establishment. A sign outside proclaims “Welcome to THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF COCKMARSH, Enjoy your visit, The Laws Of Common Sense Apply” next to another sign ”Twinned with Chernoby;”  The get out/in was easy and the food was good, PLUS the sun came out while we lunched, so a very nice stop.

Onwards….towards Maidenhead over the route of the Autumn Colours trip, but without the colours at this time of year.

Despite it being Saturday, there was very little other river traffic to disturb us, and with light winds it was a pleasant paddle We stopped at a cafe at Maidenhead, for ice cream  ( ice cream and coffee for me, no its not a strange mixture)

Leaving the cafe it looked like it might rain,  most of us thought it would pass. One minute after setting off it started raining, quite hard, so had to stop and put cags on.  But it turned out the rain at that time was good, as it meant it stopped before we reached our Boveney lock campsite.

Boveney is a small campsite with limited amount of flat areas, and just one shower, token operated.

Nice view of lots of white scum coming past from the weir, apparently that’s a sign the river is healthy, it not detergent like I thought !

Mark was joining the trip at this point, but had a half mile trek from car to the lock. He delivered his tent and a bag of beer first, with a request that we put his tent up for him to save time while he went back to get his kayak.. With four of us the tent was soon up, then Tamra decided Mark should get a proper 4 star treatment, so she collected some flowers (well daisies)  to decorate his sleeping bag, with a complementary sweet (fruit pastille ) by the side.

With that done Phil, Maxine, Paul and myself set off for the 1 mile walk to the nearest pub The Palmer Arms. Frank promised he would catch us up, and Tamra, John and Mark would come by car.

Food was excellent, some of us had the lamb…..

On the way back it was misty,  and had an interesting ‘discussion’ as to whether the illuminated building in the distance with spire and flagpole was Windsor Castle or  Egham college.

We passed a car parked in the middle of nowhere with a strange woman in it,  she had been there when we were on the way to the pub, and had been flashing her lights at a car on the other side of the common.

Day 3,  Boveney Lock to Hampton, 20.3mls, 6 locks, 2portages.

Quite an early start, as we has 20 miles to cover, on the water by 8:30.

Phil had promised the previous evening that he would get us coffee from Windsor leisure centre which was about 1 mile away,  but guess what….he missed it and we paddled on….

We went through Romney and Old Windsor locks and didn’t stop until Wraysbury NT tearooms,  but found there was a 20 minute wait to be served, so back to the boats and on to Wraysbury Pleasure Grounds cafe, it was 11:00.

While stopped we booked a table at The Bridge pub Chertsey for 12:30,  seemed plenty of time.
But at 12:30 we were only just entering  Penton Hook lock, due to it being very slow getting though Bell Weir lock and into Penton Hook. We realised how lucky we had been with the previous locks, as we never waited for more than a few minutes at any of them

So it was decided we had better sprint from Penton Hook to Chertsey and portage there to get to the pub for the revised time of 1:00. 

When we got to the pub it wasn’t busy, plenty of tables.

Finally on through familiar waters, portaging through Sunbury ( why don’t more locks have rollers) to arrive back at the club by 4:45.

Thanks to Frank for organising, and everyone for making it a great trip.

Participants:Frank Bench (trip leader)
Phil Tauwhare (deputy trip leader and lamb rescue)
Tamra Cave (Tent and hospitality expert)
Paul Scott ( beer consumer)
John Stafford (scribe)
John Freeman (Paddler AND cyclist)
Maxine Nelson ( assistant lamb rescue )
Mark Lewis (part timer, free beer supplier


Regatta, August 2019

Regatta, August 2019

It all started with perfect organisation, good weather and a fantastic group of people. Firstly…. to scare away fisherman and get all the participants and numerous kayaks, SUB’s and canoes over to the Hurst park bank. By 10 am we are split into three teams, Hampton, Westel and Molesey and the judges taking their positions on the bank.


Warm up exercises began with a little bit of May pole dancing with paddles, standing in a circle, paddles held in front of us vertically, we move stealthily left and right leaving the paddles in situ. Of course everyone was coordinated, worked as one and not a single paddle fell to the ground…honest!

Event one: team relay: get each team member from the start line to the judges stand point, turn the boat around and back to the start line to tag the next team member to go…..without paddles! 

A few capsizes, wonky manoeuvres and one team not finishing led us into the second event; get your team from point A to B as quickly as possible in a canoe. Two tactics available, do you make a few trips quickly or load everyone in your boat and hope you don’t sink? After a couple of submerged teams and sunken canoes a hasty finish ensued and with the re-floated canoes back on land it was a race to the finish line but one team found their canoe had been tied to another boat, an act of sabotage resulting in quick thinking – why waste time untying knots when you can just carry both boats and win.

Next fun with balls…. line up your kayaks side by side, each paddler has a tennis ball, player one has to throw their ball to their adjacent team mate who then throws their ball and the ball just thrown to them to the next team member until all nine balls end up with the last in the line who then has to throw them all back along the line so that each player has their ball back again by the end of the line, all while trying to stay afloat and not drift out of line and into passing rowers and ferry traffic. A crazy race followed where one tennis ball had to be passed to each player before crossing the finish line, I’m sure nobody would have cheated here!

To end the event a ball throwing frenzy from the judges left the three teams darting around collecting the balls from the water (and not a Labrador in sight when you need one)…the winner would be the team that collected the most balls, over 60 balls were counted in but how many were thrown out…. surely no one cheated here.

To round the day off back at the club house with boats dried and put away, not just a bbq but an amazing feast, all washed down with a compulsory slice of chocolate cake, good company and an amazing club.

Amanda Fisher

Cardboard Canoe Challenge : 2019

Cardboard Canoe Challenge : 2019

Another year another set of crazy cardboard creations. 

8 boats went out and amazingly all stayed afloat for a while ……

Annual Prize Giving 2019

Annual Prize Giving 2019

The annual celebration of club paddlers – fast, slow, wet, dry and more took place at the old Swan at Walton on 27th April. 

The list of prizes was as follows.

The list of prizes was as follows.Best newcomer : Jana – for organising lots of weekend paddles from the club

Best newcomer : Jana – for organising lots of weekend paddles from the club
Best Xmas lights – Robert & Lourette – for the K2 reindeer sleigh
Outstanding contribution – most challenging club job – Anne-Lise – for being rack manager and dealing with all the difficult stuff
Outstanding contribution – Dan Bownds – for organising many trips, canoe sessions and other skills training
Rupert magic carpenter – for restoring the club bench.
Kathy- for doing such a great job with the website.
Wildlife Warden of the Year: Derek, for going into the sea at the back of a Menorcan cave to rescue a sea bird
Travel Agent of the Year: Morten, for booking us into a sumptuous Danish mansion for our paddling weekend.
Amanda Gosport, “Best litter picker”, she managed to find a toilet in the river, and picked it up, yuk!
Jenny, “jelly babies Queen”. She always has a stash of jelly babies on hand on every trip.
Maxine Nelson, “club rock’. from a beginner to a level 1 coach and committee member – does so much for the club
Frank, materials science award for best cardboard boat 2018


Try a Tippier Boat Evening

Try a Tippier Boat Evening

A fun evening was had by all with 30 paddlers on or in the water, with more than half trying a boat less stable than the one they usually paddle!

Peter led the session aided by Maxine giving advice, encouragement and rescue help where needed.  There was some impressive paddling (and some impressive swimming). 

Tamra also organised a fab BBQ with head chef Adam. A lovely sociable end to the evening.

Cardboard Boat Race – The rules!

Cardboard Boat Race - The rules!

This year it will be held on Saturday 25th May – getting together at the clubhouse by 10.30am and aiming to launch by 11.00am.
All are welcome to join in. Just build some kind of cardboard boat and see how long you can keep it afloat. Your craft can be as sophisticated or as unsophisticated as you like (Dan is a particularly noted expert in converting cardboard boxes into well… wetter cardboard boxes)! The only real objective is to have some fun.
There will be the usual trophies and certificates to the most successful entries (don’t get too excited – Dan makes those out of cardboard as well). 
BYO barbeque afterwards once we’ve all dried off.
Start collecting cardboard!
For full instruction see here.
Plus Technical stuff on making boats float here!
Happy constructing!

Congratulations Mike and Peter

Congratulations Mike & Peter

Congratulations to Mike Channon and Peter Loy who last weekend competed in the annual Frank Luzmore Memorial Marathon race from Elmbridge Canoe Club to Richmond Canoe Club. They paddled mixed doubles for Richmond Canoe Club in the 20km, 3 portage, race with Peter in the second fastest veteran team at 1:46:09 and Mike ‘s team coming in less than 3 minutes later at 1:48:54. A pace for the rest of us to aspire to when doing the loop….


Winter and Night Paddling

British Summer Time ends on 28 October and already the sun is setting just after 7pm. Wednesday evening club paddles are finishing at dusk will soon cease to begin again next spring.

But don’t despair – Hamptoneers still go out paddling after dark in informal groups and there are some member-led 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 precautions needed:

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 higher above the water and if you fall in you’re easier to spot.

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

In the colder weather
1. If you’re unsure of your abilities paddle with a more experienced member.
2. Wear layers of quick drying clothes, a waterproof top and a warm hat.
3. Carry a change of clothes with you in a dry bag.
4. Consider buying rubber paddling boots and gloves (members have a 15% discount at Whitewater Canoes in Shepperton Marina).
5. Wear a PDF and before setting off check the weather forecast and the river conditions.

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