Dittons Paddle Boarding

by Anya Williamson

Tonight we paddled the Bowers Lock loop. Big black clouds were gathering, we watched them and looked at each other said Oh well and off we went.

Last time I did the loop a few trees had fallen across the river which made it difficult to pass. We took a chance not knowing how far along the loop we would get. The threatening black clouds cleared and it turned out to be a perfect paddle evening.

We were in luck, somebody had taken the trouble to cut away the worst of the fallen trees and we were able to complete the loop. In places we had to duck, lay down due to obstacles and paddle very fast in parts of the river where the flow was very strong.

We said ‘if feels like paddling in a mangrove’. We spotted TWO kingfishers, a heron, swans, ducks and a pigeon. Paddling off the beaten track, away from traffic, people and other sounds is so peaceful.

We reached the weir and found the perfect place to bypass it. With all this in mind next time this one has to be done in reverse so we can go with the flow, fast.🏄

If you like what we do and would like to support us, why not become a member.

July 7th 2020

Moochy Mondays‘ with Phil Christ – regular outings organised by Phil and his wife Tara through their Paddleboard Maidenhead website

We jumped on the Thames at ‘Boulter’s Lock’ (there is a car park opposite – SL6 8JN – £1 evening charge) and headed upstream passing Cliveden Manor House – home to the Profumo Scandal Affair. 5.86 miles.

If you do this route note you cannot get past Hedsor weir just left of point, 3 but you can portage Cookham weir at point 4 – and then go to the Ferry pub on the river bank by the bridge of Ferry Lane 🙂

Anyone is welcome to join Moochy Monday’s trips – no charge – paddlers need to be able to self rescue and have appropriate SUP skills to join as this is not a lesson outing. Must have a licence and a leash.

The white house Spring Cottage at Cliveden – Lord Astor used to rent it to Stephen Ward for a £1 a year; now it fetches £2500 a night complete with a butler!

Hedsor Water iruns to the north of Sashes Island. Hedsor Water was once the main navigation of the Thames but was by-passed by the construction of Cookham Lock in 1830.

Cookham Lock opened in 1830, but no weir was built at this time. In 1837 a weir was found necessary and built across Hedsor Water, leading to further litigation from Lord Boston for loss of trade to the wharf he owned there.

Hedsor Wharf, on the upper reach of Hedsor Water had been an important trading post. The paper made at nearby Cookham Paper Mill was shipped from there and the stone used to build Shardeloes was brought from Oxford to Hedsor Wharf. This was removed when the lock was rebuilt in 1869, as Lord Boston had built eel bucks in the stream in the meantime.

Hopefully I will get some better photos going forward – my first blog!


John Lloyd

7 June 2020

The Paddlers of Maidenhead have been making the most of the recent warm weather. Exploring the back waterways of the Thames around Maidenhead and Cookham.

From The Ferry at Cookham and the stream running along side John Lewis’s Odney Country Club, the white house Spring Cottage at Cliveden Lord Astor use to rent it to Stephen Ward for a £1 a year, now it fetches £2500 a night complete with a butler. We get to visit the garden for free each day.

Each weekday evening during the summer we will be paddling every Monday and Wednesday from Boulters Lock. All board owners are welcome to join us. At the moment, there will be strictly groups of no more than 6. If more people arrive, then they will be asked to form a separate group and be asked to keep more than 8 metres away from the first group, and so on. Since Social Distancing is easy to maintain when out on the water, the only issue is when we head out onto the water or return. We ask all paddlers to be caring of others and to take their time.

If you are interested in joining one of the weekday evening paddles, please email us for details.

Finally, we have been training on the sailing lake in Maidenhead and also having our yoga session. These can bee booked through out links on the Training Base page. We have various classes throughout the week.

If you like what we do and what to help support us, why not become a member.

30 May 2020 by Brett Scillitoe

It’s been a while since the last post. There we were having fun in Hampton Pool. How different the world is now. We as a club did brilliantly and you can be very proud of yourselves as we stayed off the water, until “They” said we could go back out for a paddle 😁

Then, there was no holding back. The WhatsApp groups lit up and members were buddying up all over the waterways of Surrey and Berkshire. Our Maidenhead base was quick off the mark and loving the empty river.

We all soon followed and loved having the river to ourselves. No rowers or pleasure craft.

But then we noticed lots of new people out on their boards. So, in the best traditions of DPB, we welcomed them to join our growing community of Crazy Paddlers.

New friendships have been made as people find kindred spirits in other paddlers. Some even bought themselves some lovely new kit!

Soon we will be able to paddle in bigger groups and then the fun will begin. Stay safe and if you see a newbie, ask if they have heard of us.

If you are not already a member, why not click here to become a member.

By Ed Milnes

1 March 2020

After nearly a month of wet and windy weekends, we finally had one that was just a bit windy – but also sunny! 6 of were keen to get out again and find our sea(canal) legs again.

After a slightly delayed start (note to self – always check if it is meeting time or launch time that has been agreed!) we set off from the Basingstoke Canal Authority Centre near Mytchett, heading west into the wind.

It was a bit breezy but that is all good practice, and nothing like the previous few weeks. The sun was finally starting to feel a bit warmer too. The red flags were up on the shooting range and a few loud reports were heard!

During a short stop and rest in the large basin near Ash Vale train station we were surrounded by tandem race kayaks from a nearby school club – plenty of room for everyone though.

Setting off again we paddled on to the Aquaduct next to the Lakeside nature reserve (and across the A331 near Ash). We stopped there for a drink and to snack on some excellent homemade energy bites made by Claire and Alex (the recipe is available if you ask them nicely!!)

Then we headed back to the Canal Centre – with the wind mostly on our backs we made good paddling time. Strangely halfway there we came across a bat flittering around by itself, and an interested (and very big) Red Kite circling overhead. We did not hang about to witness the final outcome of that drama.

This is a great ‘go-to’ paddle that is interesting and never feels as long as 10k. Also no locks needing to be walked past (yay!). The Basingstoke Canal generally is a great winter paddle because it never seems to be flowing fast (in fact there is hardly any flow at all) – water quality actually seems to be better in the winter too, and it is quite sheltered most of the time.

Total distance – just over 10k – total time approx. 2.5 hrs
Falling ins – 0
Wildlife spotted – Bat, Kite, Swan, Dogs (multiple), Ducks
Snacks eaten – Yes, excellent ones.
Photos by Claire Turner and Ed Milnes

If you would like to come along of one of our paddles, why not become a member.

25 Jan 2020

It’s amazing how a conversation in a bar can lead to an afternoon of training and FUN!

We decided to run a couple of sessions, one novice, one advanced. The Novices were learning board skills and getting comfortable moving around the board. The Advanced Paddlers were learning Step-back Turns and lots of self rescue!

All the paddlers were loving the conditions of being outside, but with really warm water to fall into. It meant that everyone was able to push the envelope and not worry about getting wet or falling into cold and at this time of year, fairly dirty water. We even had one member try and emulate SpaceX and launch their board vertically out of the pool.

Once the main sessions were over, it was games time. Relay races and step-back turn races. All great fun and good to test the drysuits to see if they really are dry. Fortunately, they still are!

After we had dried off and packed away. We headed for the Pub and another DPB Social ensued. Not sure when the last person got home!!

If you would like to join in the fun, why don’t you Become a Member.

31 Oct 19

Our 3rd Halloween Paddle was our best yet, considering the conditions this Autumn. We met at our Thames Dittons winter base, The Albany Pub in Queens Road and prepared for an evening of fun.

Some had new costumes and others (me) had forgotten the batteries to some lights 🙁

Once on the water the fun started, gently gliding up to moored boats and peering in to see who was inside. Some we gave a gentle fright to, but most took it in the spirit it was meant.

We practiced our wolf howls under Hampton Court Bridge, which has one of the best echos anywhere. Although some were more Chihuahua. Still it amused the commuters on their way home crossing the bridge above.

Then it was back down passed the Albany to Thames Ditton Island and the Olde Swan Pub. Normally there are quite a few people and children around, but this year it was quite, apart from us nutters paddling around in the dark howling.

Finally, back to base and a beer and food and a chat with the gang of ghouls. A Fun evening to be out on the water.

If you want to join us on any of our paddles, why not become a member.

12 Sept 2019

September is a wonderful time to go for an evening paddle. Even on the most unpromising evening the paddler can be rewarded by some stunning vistas.

Wednesday we were out from our Weybridge Paddle Base. Anthony came along for his first paddle with us although this was his backyard, we still managed to show him some fresh water he hadn’t paddled before.

Up round past The Old Crown and towards the weir with the Wey Navigation. The Old Crown has spent some money on it jetties and now is a great place to stop off for a refreshment. The jetties are at a good height for Paddle Boarders.

Then it was back downstream, passed the open water swimmers at Sheppeton Lake, where we were treated to a lovely sunset. We left Anthony as he headed for his home and we had a session back to our Paddle Base at Elmbridge Canoe Club.

Thursday Evening we were Paddling from our Thames Ditton Paddle Base. For the evenings, this is The Albany Pub. There were 6 of out, with Julia out on her Tiki board. New to her and it was great to have her along as she has been coming occasionally since we started. But now she has her own board and is getting fully involved.

We headed upstream, stopping off to say hello to our Chief Coach Coco who was stay on a boat moored next to Hampton Court Palace. We hopped up the portage ramp at Molesey Lock and headed round the Hampton Islands.

At this point the clouds cleared and the we were treated to a lovely after glow of the setting sun. Then the Full Moon came out from behind the clouds.

We turned for home and followed the rising Moon. Stunning colours from all the lights from the road and the Paddlers head torches. We ended the evening as we do most evenings chatting over a beer in the garden of The Albany.

If you would like to come on one of our paddles, why not get in touch and become a member.

27 August 2019

What an Amazing August Bank Holiday it was! The sun was out, temperatures in the 30’s and gentle breezes on the water. Time to go paddling. DPB Members didn’t disappoint. We had a large group head down to Boscombe, near Bournemouth. They spent the weekend on the beautiful beaches and paddling on the gentle swell. Around the Pier, practicing their skills and generally larking about, falling in and having huge amounts of fun.

Those that didn’t make it to the coast made use of our growing number of Paddle Bases. Ditton Beach had another large group, that went out at different times or long or shorter paddles. Those members who brought their children, played close to the beach in the shallows. There was a lot of larking about here as well!!

The Weybridge Base had a group go out and explore Desborough Island, with some new members.

The Guildford and Woking groups were also out on The River Wey at different times. That’s the beauty of DPB, one club with so many things to do, places to paddle and new friends to meet with a shared passion.

If you would like to join us and get involved, why not become a member.

30 Aug 2019
By Petra Maass

Petra and her daughter, Mia

I bumped into Brett and the rest of the Ditton Paddlers last summer and was able to find my river legs by borrowing one of their boards on a few occasions. Luck had it that one of the members, Greg, was selling his nearly new board and I immediately snapped it up and made it mine. I was initially tentative, as I was also introducing my pooch to paddleboarding, so we stuck to warm balmy days.

But this year I got properly hooked. The biggest difference to my enthusiasm for paddling made the electric pump I bought from MCS Watersports. Instead of spending 20 sweaty minutes pumping up my board by hand and giving up at a measly 10psi, I now plug it into my cigarette lighter and pose coolly by the car whilst the pump inflates my board to 15psi in about ten minutes. Love it! Best £70 I ever spent.

But the best thing about this summer’s paddling was the Ditton Paddling Whatsapp group. We now have roughly 100 members in the chat group and if I want to go I post time and place and within minutes other paddlers would reply to join me. Often, I know no more than their name, but my blind dates have been great so far and I have met lovely Viola, Roxanna and Angus that way.

I have been paddling most days making the most of the numerous heat spells we had this year and I never thought it possible, but I now suffer from land sickness as I am writing this! You know the feeling, when you have spent too much time aboard a boat and then you return to land and your body is still swaying?! Well, I managed to achieve that by paddleboarding for England this summer. Or maybe for Germany?

If you would like to join us and have lots of fun on and off the water, why no become a member.

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