Dittons Paddle Boarding

Going for a little paddle to Canterbury and and having a look around the Cathedral sounded like a fun idea. It was just going to be me and Ewa. It had been a while since we had just paddled together.

Board and car

I read up on Paddle Points where to paddle and what to avoid. So I was reasonably confident we would have a fun and relaxing time. However, one wrong turn and the gentle paddle turning into a whole different adventure.

Launching the board

We were advised on Paddle Points to either park at Sainsburys or the Toddlers Grove Park. We got that bit right. The Toddlers Grove Park is the best location as there is plenty of parking, although it is not cheap. Sainsburys has 2 hours free, but I will come to that later.

Tranquil Great Stour

After walking through a small park we came to a sluice. I decided to carry on downstream to see where the Sainsburys Car Park and Launch point was. The river downstream of the sluice was a lot shallower and was going to be a “Wet Launch”, we had to wade into the middle of the beautifully clear water to get enough depth for our touring fins, (error #2), a river fin would be much better for this paddle.

Gliding under bridges

After pumping up, and launching under the main road bridge, we headed downstream (first error). The Great Stour was running fast and we surprised a few ducks, who shot off into the sky, just ahead of us. Under some low bridges we were having a great time, flying along with wind and stream behind us. Eventually we came to Causeway Bridge and the Mill beyond. There was no way through so we had to paddle a little way back upstream to where we had notice a launch point. Paddle Points had mentioned a portage might be needed. This was it I thought.

Near Sainsburys

It was great fun going down the fast flowing, if shallow river, over small rapids with the fin bouncing off the bottom, with us on the nose of our boards to keep them moving. We realised we wouldn’t be able to paddle back the same way we had come, so when we were met with another Mill and Sluice, we stopped to see if we were going to have to get a taxi?? Horror of Horrors!

Heading upstream

After a little investigation, the original branch of the river we had been on, looked deep enough to paddle back upstream. It was narrow, fast-flowing and beautifully clear. Whilst Launching, I threw my board in and inadvertently, splashed Ewa with a large wave of water from my board. She was just bending down on her board to get her phone to maybe capture me slipping down the bank and falling in. Karma, hey. I did apologies and was “accidently” splashed later on 😂

Clean water

This was a Proper Adventure now! We had to wade in parts, climb over small weirs, use the boards as small bridges to get over obstacles. Eventually, we could go no further, the river was too shallow and we had to walk. After some consolation of the map and clarification that a taxi wouldn’t be needed, we hiked off through the parks of Canterbury back to the original sluice where we had launched downstream. This time we were heading the other way.

Walking with the board
Wading through the shallows

If only I had looked over the otherside of the bridge the first time, we would have had an easier paddle, but missed out on the adventure.

Into the City centre

We had an easy launch and paddled upstream through the heart of Canterbury, passed the punts and guided pleasure boats taking tourist sightseeing. Under the very low bridges and past the ancient buildings of the City. It was great fun, waving at tourist and being photographed by many.

Under more low bridges

Finally out of the built-up area and into the fields and back to the Toddler Grove Park. Here you can paddle a long way upstream and this is where we should have gone first. There is also a closer launch point to the car park by a footbridge.

And More

Once changed and boards packed away, we then visited the amazing Canterbury Cathedral. Regardless of your beliefs, it is an amazing and beautiful building and one we will be going back to. The entry price gives free re-admission for a year!

Brett and Ewa by Canterbury Cathedral

My advice is forget the Sainsburys Car Park and paddle from the Toddler Grove Car Park, into the fields first before heading into the City. But don’t let me put you off your own adventure. But please keep yourself safe.

What3Word Locations

Toddler Grove Car Park – https://w3w.co/option.pinks.blues
Closest Launch Point – https://w3w.co/leaned.flash.vote

Twelve Paddle Boarders from Dittons paddled the whole of the Wey Navigation Sunday 10th September 2023, which has become an annual event on the calendar. This is the 4th time Dittons have hosted this event and it has become very popular indeed! A 32km trip along the canal navigating 14 locks starting at Godalming Wharf and finishing on the Thames at Elmbridge Canoe Club.

It was a nice early start 8am and a lovely morning, we were in the September heat wave! It was going to be hot, hot, hot so lots of sun cream applied, hats adorned and lots of water taken on board our SUPs.

We kept the pace slower than previous years to adjust to the heat and every lock was a delight! It was great to meet new members and we all moved around to talk to different people, it also helps take your mind of the distance you are doing!

As it was hot we had a few swim stops to cool us down. Most on purpose but a few accidental! We made our half way point to the New Inn at Send around 1pm which meant time for a rest, refuel and toilet break. Two people finished the safari here which is always an option if you only want to paddle half the Wey.

After 40 minutes we got back on the water for 2nd half of the journey. It had become very muggy so a few more dips in the canal were required.

We had the water to ourselves near enough, as Paper Court lock was closed for repairs, so no barges or boats, it was great!

We got to the Anchor in Pyrford and a few of us stopped for a well deserved ice cream before we paddled the longest stretch of the Wey without a lock which is roughly 5K.

We finally reached New Haw lock and then it is only a short distance to Thames Lock, the home straight to Weybridge on the Thames.

We arrived at Elmbridge Canoe Club about 6pm and then a few had a much deserved swim!

Thanks to everyone who joined the Safari. Great company and great weather, what more could you ask! If you want to join us next year look out for the date in the calendar, it is usually the 1st/2nd week of September.

Bit of Karaoke always makes the Safari go quicker!

We have over the last few years been heading to the Kennet and Avon Canal for a days Safari. It’s been fun to do, paddling upstream to a canal side pub and riding the current back. Some days have been quite long.

Newbury Bridge

This year we were starting from The Teashop by the Canal in Newbury. There is excellent parking there as well. This is where we reached and had long on our last Safari on the Kennet (read about it here).

Caroline head west

There were four of us again. I think the West wind had something to do with the low turnout. Eva and Paul were returning from last year and we had Caroline along. She was one of the original Adventure Girls and used to finding waterways that other wouldn’t attempt. More of this later.

Ewa dressed for the conditions

After pumping up and fueling with some excellent coffee from the Teashop we headed West through the centre of the town and the very narrow Newbury Bridge, on passed our first lock and out of the town passed old canalside cottages and into the countryside. This included the only ultra low bridge we had to lie down to get under.

Higgs Lock

We carried on West and noticed the main Kennet River joining the very straight canal at this point. The wind was making it hard going and we were glad of the rest at Guyer’s Lock Under the A34 dual-carriageway and then there was Higgs Lock, hardly a kilometer away. There then followed a series of locks interspersed with short sections of canal. What with the wind and the regular stops this was turning into a challenge.

Looking west towards Benham Lock

This is a very rural part of the world with wooded banks and all sorts of wildlife. Ewa feed a small white duck at one lock. it become very brave and tried out the board. Then there were Red Kites flying over head and quite low at times. The occasional narrow boat, although it was quieter than expected. Near the aptly named Copse Lock there was the site of a very large fallen tree that had been cleared from the canal. It was amazing to see the hole in the woodland around it that it had left. Sometimes we don’t realise how big these trees are until they are gone.

Feeding the Duck

Eventually after the longest “Pound” on our Safari, we came to the Lunch stop at The Dundas Arms, Kintbury. This will also form the start of the next Safari on The Canal. We had booked a table so were able to order lunch, And it was excellent, although the tasty puddings did take a little while to arrive.

Fallen tree

The launch back onto the canal is easy of the concrete wall and we were looking forward to the trip back, with wind and current in our favour. After 3 locks we came to Benham Weir. At Lunch Caroline had mused about heading back via the River Kennet and not the Canal.

Bridge and Narrowboat

There was an straightforward crossing point by the weir and a fast flowing clear stream the other side. We decided to give it a go. The Adventure had begun. we all had Buoyancy Aids were scouting any obstacles before we passed them. We had to negotiate a small sluice and climb over a bank to get back onto the river.

Leaving the pub

It was beautiful hardly paddling as we flowed through water meadows and passed sheep and ducks of all varieties. Over small rapids and under low hanging trees. We then become aware that we were in an area where there is a fishing club, but it was closed for the day. Something to consider as I doubt they would be too happy if they had their lines out.

Over the weir

By the clubhouse there was another low weir to negotiate. The river here splits and gets narrow and fast flowing. The trees were getting lower to the water, so some caution was needed. We also noticed that there were concrete blocks in the water, one of which I hit with by fin causing me to take a dip. The water was deep and cool. quite refreshing.

Waiting for the others

Having put on my windproof jacket to keep the warmth in we continued to the A34 road bridge. This is were the Fun and the Jungle of West Berkshire started. If anyone comes this way again, bring heavy machinery or get out 100 metres before the bridge and rejoin the Canal at Higgs Lock.

There were fallen trees and reeds and weed. Sometimes the board had to be dragged over the trees or we had to slide under. We worked as a team and made sure everyone was safe. Another sluice had to be “shot”, a bit like the canoe slides at some locks. All the time we were waiting for the tranquil backwater we had seen on the way upstream. But No, more trees a metal barrier, a water pipe all had to be negotiated safely.

Then finally through yet another tree and there was a small narrowboat and tranquil water. What we had seen on the way up was all there was. It had taken 2 extra hours to avoid three locks. Then 4 weary paddlers headed back Newbury Lock and then onto the Teashop that had long since closed.

Paul of the Jungle

It was a great adventure and one I’m glad I have experienced, but if I ever do wild paddling again, I will bring some tools to clear away through. It would be good if someone does clear a bit of the back water, say up to the metal barrier, just enough to get a board or canoe through safely.

The Final Tree

The next section is trough Hungerford and into the countryside beyond. I think a picnic might be needed as there are few towns or villages to stop at.

Happy Paddling.

Brett Scillitoe – 27 June 2022

How quickly a year passes. High Summer is the time to visit the Avon and Kennet Canal. We are making our way west towards Bath and Bristol. This year’s section was from The Rowbarge at Woolhampton to Newbury, The County Town of Berkshire.

The weather was a little challenging with a strong South Westerly breeze blowing. This meant that the number of paddlers was down not a normal Safari. However Paul wasn’t going to let the wind stop him getting a good supply of Vitamin D!

Most of the canal is in fact sheltered from the worst effects of the wind with trees giving protect. Just occasionally we had to paddle efficiently and make sure every paddle counted.

Paddling into the wind

The sun shone and it was fun going. We occasionally to a break to rest and enjoy the conditions.

After about 3 hours, having passes Thatcham we arrived in Newbury and had a look around some of the little backwaters. We got chased out of one private back water by a please lady asking us politely and her 3 big dogs, who made it clear, we shouldn’t be there 😂

After exploring the central area of Newbury, we stopped at the lovely Teashop By The Canal for amazing sandwiches and cakes.

After lunch it was time to head back and this time with the wind and stream in our favour. We saw a Terrapene by a lock and met Di who had come for a paddle in the afternoon. Then Emma Lost her fin as she lowered her board into the canal at a portage point. Time to improvise and we lashed her Quroc board to Di’s and then the fun just increased and they tried to sail the raft home or splash others. So many laughs. Hopefully Quroc will return her repaired board very soon.

Ewa and Di trying to sail the 2 Quroc boards. Di’s face tells how much luck they had.

We cover 14 mile in 8 hours, had hundreds of laughs and got chased by 3 dogs. Not forgetting the 5 beers and food we had at the Rowbarge on our return.

If you want to join in some of our Adventures, why not become a member.

5 September 2021 – By Jo Burne

The club held its second ‘Whole of the Wey’ trip on 5th September.   Hosted by the River Wey Tuesday group but open to all DPB to come and SUP the whole of the Navigation.

The Wey Navigation runs from Godalming to the Thames at Weybridge and is 31k (plus a bit on the Thames at the end to get to the car park) and 14 locks.  I joined this event last year.  I’d only been with the club a few months and managed to do 2/3rds of the Wey.   This year I was determined to make the whole trip.  

It was an early start.   With it being a one-way trip, we had a combination of partners kindly picking people up and lift buddies.   I drove to Weybridge to pick up Ed at 7.15am, who left his car there for the return to the start.   Then we drove to the start in Godalming at Farncombe Boat house. There were 13 of us setting off at 8.30am.  In a couple of groups to make it easier for portage, passing people and comply with the Wey rule of 10 people max!

It was a lovely morning.  A little overcast but for September nice and warm and the promise of sun later.   The first few Kms we tried to keep up a reasonable pace and they ticked over with the locks coming and going.   It was great to get to Guildford – the big major milestone, before a snack and refuel.   The group mixed and matched around, a nice pace for chatting and getting to know people who usually paddle in different areas.   A few people took our photos with amazement and seeing so many paddleboarders out together.

Going from Guildford to Send the sun started to come out and everything gets really pretty.   Lots of locks, bridges, reflections and nature.   Occasional sounds of the A3 coming in and out, but mostly peaceful and beautiful.  Quite a few barges around, as it was such a nice day at the end of the summer.   And, as always on the Wey, a few more locks to negotiate.  The lovely nature kept us going while we paddled towards send, keen to get lunch.

We arrived at Send, just over half way, the group straggled out a bit, between 12pm and 12.20pm.   There we met four more Dittons Paddlers, who were doing ‘Half the Wey’.   We stopped at the New Inn pub in now glorious sunshine.   The Half Weyers had set up a paddleboard camp by the riverside and grabbed us a couple of tables by the river.   There was an outside bar for beers and soft drinks and we ate our picnics by the river – all very idyllic.   

Tempting as it was to sit in the sun, there was another half a navigation to get done!   So set off again around 1pm.   Layers off, hats on and sunscreen for what was now a pretty hot day for September.   Lots more pretty countryside, cows in the river and quite a lot of river weed (but very passable) brought us passed the picturesque Ripley Priory and onto Pyrford.   The speedy folks (not me!) were rewarded with time to visit and ice-cream van next to the Anchor pub.  The rest of us caught up for a little snack and a quick rest.

Photos 9 and 10

The next section is the longest without a lock, a nice 4.5k of flat and straight (ish) water.   A great combination of countryside then passing under the M25 and the columns of graffiti.   It was nice to finish this section as it was then onto the home straight.  Crossing the road, we headed on towards Weybridge.   After our final portage we headed towards the Thames to a really pretty stretch past the posh houses of Weybridge.   A very pretty view for the end of the Wey.   There’s no-where to park here, so although finished with the Wey we had a final tiring portage through the rowing club and onto the Thames.   Where less than a km brought us to Elmbridge Canoe Club at around 4.30pm.    Many of us had a dip in the Thames to celebrate – we’d made it!    A final trip to the pub for some then headed back to Godalming then home – all feeling rather tired but happy memories of a fab day and pleased we’d completed the “Whole of the Wey”.     Hope you can join us next year.

By Brett Scillitoe
19 Aug 21

The original plan was to have a relaxing day at the Beach, play in the gentle surf and generally muck about on the water. Unfortunately, with the weather in 2021 being very changeable and hardly ever as forecast, the fun was going to have to move. There were a few paddle boarders out on the water. I think they were the inexperienced ones as they were rapidly learning the art of Down-winding. Yes, it was a day for the Kite and Windsurfers. They were having a fun time and doing some impressive speeds.

So, what was to be done. With Paddle Boarding there is always an alternative and Emsworth was that alternative. With the tide out, it was decided an early lunch and then go for a paddle. The Blue Bell Inn on South Street threated us very well. The light lunch turned into a full Sunday Roast. Well we did need energy to paddle in the windy conditions.

Sitting outside the pub in the sunshine and out of the wind we were looking forward to the afternoon’s fun. Once the boards were pumped up, we headed for the water. We made a fine sight as we walk down the street.

Once assembled on the water we headed for the main part of Chichester Harbour. We passed the end of the Harbour wall that held back the waters of the Mill Pond (and early example of the use of tidal energy) and were hit with the full force of the wind.

To say we had to be About Our Business was an understatement. The wind was strong and gusting. However, we were in a safe environment to learn about paddling in coastal strong winds. It was an onshore wind, with no surf to speak of, due to the sheltered shore area.

So, we made a game of paddle hard between the moored boards, and when we got to the next moored boat, get your breath back and make sure the group arrived safely, before heading to the next. This way we made progress out into the main harbour. We all had quick Release Waste Leashes, or the Leash was attached to the paddlers Buoyancy Aid. Safety first.

This lasted for some time, with lots of laughs and some fast paddling. After a good while we decided we had enough battling and wanted to copy the morning paddlers and do some Down-winding back to the slipway and find a cup of tea. Which wasn’t hard as there was a lovely tea shop right by the shore.

Playing in the wind we learned a lot about efficient paddling and short powerful strokes to keep the board moving forwards. With down-winding, to stay away from moored boats as much as possible.

Another Great Dittons Adventure. If you would like to come our next one, why not Become a Member.

14 Aug 21 – Brett Scillitoe

It started off as just the next Safari of the year. It’s been on my list for some time and Ed, Claire and Alex had paddled bits of it before. The challenge of a Safari is we go the extra distance. Ed helped with the planning and after checking the tides Saturday 14 August was the day. A month before when we set it up we didn’t have a clue if the weather was going to be kind to us.

We shouldn’t have worried. In a summer that has be challenging weatherwise, the forecast was OK. The week before, the attendee numbers started to creep up. It was looking good.

Come the day cars were shared and we arrived at Warsash just after 9am to pump up. Three of the club members who had all-round boards were able to borrow club touring boards. It’s one of the many benefits of club membership. By the time we were all pumped up and ready for the safety briefing, there were 21 of us. It was quite a sight!

After the Safety Briefing, we were off. A short walk and we were on the water and heading up the estuary. We had the wind and tide with us. It was definitely a mix of paddling and sailing. The Hamble is home to thousands of sailing yachts, both sailing and motor. Some very expensive ones at that!

The group did well to stay together and we made quite a sight out on the water. Our first stop was at The Jolly Sailor, Old Bursledon. The staff were great and quickly served us drinks and nibbles. We really did take the place over for a while. There were groups of us all over the place.

It took a while to get back on the water and carry on under the 3 bridges that cross The Hamble. By this time the tide was in full flow and as the river is narrow here we were moving at quite a pace. We were all wearing quick release belts or attaching our leashes to our Buoyancy Aids. With so many buoys and posts to avoid, it is the safest place to attach the leash.

Once we passed the last moored boats, the river opened up and the hustle and bustle of the marina area was left behind. We were paddling through fields and woods, with lots of bird life to look at, including some small white storks.

At the top of the main estuary, the river has 2 branches. The Hamble to the West and Curbridge Creek to the East. We turned left and headed up the Hamble as we had time to kill as we needed it to be high tide to reach our lunch stop.

Soon after there was a shout from the back of the group the “The Cream Mary”, the Hamble’s very own Ice Cream Boat had made an appearance. Had they seen 21 paddlers heading upstream or knew that the YMCA watersports centre was about to open 🤷‍♂️

They were delicious all the same and he made a good profit.

Onwards we went, up to a waterfall that is visible when the tide is low. I paddled over it before I know it was there and promptly ran aground on the large Paving Slabs that cover the base of the river here, under the road bridge at Botley Mills.

We turned and headed downstream towards lunch. Passed the other paddlers coming upstream. In the ensuing fun of turning round in a tight stream with long touring boards, a game of Domino’s was played and poor Caroline was at the end and went for a swim 🏊‍♂️😳

After a speedy paddle, we arrived at the Horse and Jockey for lunch. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and the pub was very well set up for large groups. The food was tasty with large portions. Definitely a place to visit, as long as the tide is in 😁

After lunch it was just a small matter of paddling back on the outgoing tide, but with a steady head wind.

The late afternoon sky was beautiful and the scenery magical. Lots of other paddlers were out on the water having fun.

However, the fun stopped for Jane, one of our party, when here paddle blade fell off and promptly disappeared into the gloom of the deep water. She was adrift. Yes, up the creek with out a…

There was only one thing to do and that was to tow her home. She climbed onto my Red Voyager 13’2 and towed her board behind. The Voyager was brilliant and handled to extra load with ease. Once we had got going, it slipped easily over the water.

We finally reached the starting point by the foot ferry, after a proper paddle back. We were all tired but elated at such a great day out on the water.

Some went to the pub and others headed home, to return for part two – Hayling Blow 🌬

If you would like to join us on our next Safari, why not Become a Member.

By Brett Scillitoe 21 June 2021

It was a gentle start to the day, with an easy journey across to The Cunning Man Pub to the west of Reading. We were last here in September 2020 for lunch, at the turn round point of our first Safari on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Today’s Safari, the first of 2021, was going to be a different challenge entirely. Our Longest yet. We needed to be about our business and paddle well.

The Team at the start
Brett, Alex, Andy, Claire, Jackie, Sara

We had a group of six, Claire, Alex, Andy, Sara, Jackie and myself. After the normal pumping up and and faffing we perpared to go. A lone paddler passed us heading downstream, he was moving quickly on the strong current. We knew we would have to employ all our river skills to punch into the current for over 8 miles to our Lunch at the Rowbarge in Woolhampton.

paddle boarding under the M4
Paddle boarding under the M4

There were few other craft out on the canal as we made good progress upstream. This section of the Canal is very rural, with lots of wildlife, Geese of different kinds, Moorhens and Coots, Herons standing watch and many others. There were mainly cattle in the fields and the odd group of horses.

This section of Canal is notable not only for the normal locks, but the Pillboxes from World War 2, as the Canal was a heavily defended Stop Line. Some would have contained some big guns. Also, there were lots of Swing and Lift Bridges. These we had to duck under. Some were very low indeed and needed a couple of attempts to get under.

Posing by a well defended Lock
Posing by a well defended Lock

At Aldermaston Wharf we met some other paddle boarders and had a chat. This was going to be our lunch spot, but the Tea Rooms were closed for the day. The next eatery, was the Rowbarge, 2 miles further on. We kept on pushing on.

There are sections near the locks that are pure canal with very little flow, but these where in the minority. As we neared Woolhampton, the banks were lined with a large growth of Gunnera plants. It was an amazing display of these large plants.

Gunnera Plants

Lunch was eagerly awaited as we had burned a lot of calories and we needed to fuel for the return journey. There was a lot of banter and storytelling over the mainly burgers and beer. The challenges of ordering via Apps and online payments were overcome. Although we did confuse the staff a little as we used the QR codes from many different tables to order. But we worked it out. All part of the Adventure!

Lunch at the Rowbarge, Woolhampton
Lunch at the Rowbarge, Woolhampton

Oh, how we enjoyed the first section heading back. Riding the flow, passed the colourful narrowboats and through the wooded sections. Staying in the middle of the canal away from branches and other things to snag yourself on. We strongly advise quick release belts now for all paddling. We stuck together as well, making sure we were all safe. But no-one fell in or even had a “Moment”.

Under a low bridge
Under a swing bridge

We had been out for a long time and had met some lovely people along the way. Had good discussions with Fishermen about the river and what they were hoping to catch. As we got closer The Cunning Man, he sent us a head wind, just for a laugh. So, we doubled down and pushed for home. Checking each other were alright as we passed the last remaining locks. These are some of the danger points as you remount your board when tired.

Arriving back to the Cunning Man
Arriving back to the Cunning Man

Finally, the pub came into view, and we used our last energy to Sprint for the line. It had been a long, but very enjoyable, satisfying day.

We had a great mini safari today from Hurst Park to the Weir Hotel just past Sunbury Lock.

Paddle Boards neatly parked at The Weir

Pumping up in the sunshine, the day was set fair with low wind. We paddled as a group, past Platts Eyot up to Sunbury Court Island, pausing for refreshment.

Taking the quiet route between the land and the Island, then back into the mainstream, we were at Sunbury Lock shortly afterwards, making our way to the side and one by one walking up the portage to the higher level.

Moored Paddle Boards Ahead 😁🤙

A short paddle later and we were at the Weir Hotel, arriving ahead of schedule. Leaving our boards on the bank and making good use of the time waiting for the pub to open, we took the opportunity for a cooling dip. After trying to work out the online menu, staff appeared, and lunches and drinks followed soon.

Ready to Paddle home

After we were all fed and watered, we launched our boards to head back

Floating on the current

Avoiding the Sea Cadets, we made our way back down the portage, heading back to Hurst Park; stopping on route for hydration, we arrived back at Hurst Park on schedule.

With only one thing left to do, we were back in the water for another cool off, a great way to end the safari.

By Brett Scillitoe

The day dawned a typical September morning, a little cool with dew on the grass. Although Sunday was a Training Day at ‘Ditton Beach’, the Safari group were off in a different direction.

Reading was the launch site and The Kennet the river we were going to explore. We all met near the Wokingham Waterside Centre, who were gearing up for their days sessions and kindly let us use their facilities.

John Lloyd from our Maidenhead Paddle Base joined us. So the group was Abi, Anya, Colette, Sam, John and myself, with Stephen joining later.

The route was a few hundred metres upstream and then left into the entrance to The Kennet. We immediately noticed the increase in stream we were paddling against, compared to The Thames.

At the first lock we met Stephen who had joined us from West London and had traveled to Reading by train. The joy of an ISUP.

We were now on the Reading Town section, which was fun to paddle pass the tower blocks and eventually through the middle of The Oracle shopping centre. The river on this section even has it’s own traffic light system, It gets narrow in points.

There were lots of people surprised to see us and little children pointing and waving. It was great fun.

Very soon the next lock came into view. This next section is narrow and fast flowing. Fortunately there was very little other river traffic, but then the local Angling Club was having a Match Day and there were 40 fishermen on the bank. So, it added to the challenge of the Safari. You can imagine some of the reactions as we appeared. Most were friendly, one even court a fish as we passed by!

The next lock was a challenge as we had to climb some steep steps. But then this was a Safari and you need to have some challenges on a Safari!!

The following section was now truly out into the countryside, with canal barges moored along the edge. This continued for so way with the river gently curving this way and that. One more lock and we were onto the final stretch before Lunch at The Cunning Man.

The bridges on this section are typical 17th Century and very attractive. A pleasure to paddle under.

After a Sunday Roast and a Pint for me, it was the return trip, on the current and with the wind. What a joy.

Heading back along the same waterway is always a pleasure of there are new things to see and discover. The Anglers, had finishes and I don’t think it had been a good day. Good for the fish I guess. The Oracle was much busier as we slipped by the shoppers and dinners.

We stopped by Reading Prison to drop Stephen off to catch his train and see where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for falling in love.

And so to the final run back to The Thames. It had been a good day, we had known we had done over 10 miles. Half of those against the current!

If you would like to join us on our next Safari, why not Become a Member.

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