On the 10th of December arctic weather conditions and a heavy snow fall conspired to reduce the 13 people signed up on the trip to just 2 at the Thames at Laleham. Undeterred, Matt and Andy elected to be responsible for their own safety and paddled anyway on a quiet and slack Thames literally steaming in the freezing air.
The water was low as we paddled down the Abbey Stream past the caravan site into woodland. From a mile in there was even more choking weed than usual requiring us to pull our boats along with our hands in places. A gentle snowfall started as we arrived at the lunch stop for welcome cups of hot tea, but despite the beauty of the scene we didn’t delay in eating our sandwiches and getting back into our warm(er) boats.
More weed and a variety of water birds ensued as we continued across more open country back to the Thames, both of us warm enough still for being suitably dressed with only the hands a little chilly. Chertsey weir was the lowest I’ve ever seen it with only a couple of gates open besides the pop-out chute, which we gave a miss.
After a final portage we were back on the Thames heading upstream in a strengthening snowfall, which we paused to admire under the M3 bridge. From our shelter we could see curtains of snow falling either side of the bridge in a very surreal scene. Suitably inspired we continued up the Thames to the put in for the end of a cold but thoroughly enjoyable trip.
Due to the many people unable to get to this trip on Sunday, the trip will be repeated in hopefully better weather on Sunday the 18th of February.