On Sunday the 9th of December 7 Nomads led by Matt, missing only one beer casualty from the night before, met at Laleham near Staines to paddle the Thames and the Abbey Stream. It was looking pretty grim at first, sitting in our cars in the pouring rain, but Fane and Charlotte generously delayed our start until the rain had stopped, the sun had come out and it was looking like really quite a nice day – thank you.
For the first two miles up the Thames we fought against a moderate current and headwind, but nevertheless everyone made it without stopping up to and past Penton Hook lock to the start of the Abbey Stream, where we had a short break to get our breath back. Well done Tony!
The only real obstacle of the trip was met in the first 10 metres, as we variously charged or bypassed a fallen tree across the stream. From then on round the caravan site the stream was easily passable and freshly dredged for a considerable length. Once past the caravan site we entered beautiful woodland with only the sound of the odd car to distract us. This continued for a couple of miles and a Bailey bridge until we reached the tunnel under the M3 and, a few hundred yards later, our lunch stop. Despite the sun it was pretty cold as we ate lunch and we didn’t tarry for too long before setting off again.
The following section across farmland back to the Thames was blissfully almost weed free, unlike previous visits, so we were able to enjoy the scenery without too much exertion. The final drop back to the Thames spur was via the old punt rollers, which everyone ‘shot’ in various degrees of style, though Fane and Charlotte reconnoitered the left hand side stream from below as a possibility for a future trips.
Once on the Thames it was a short paddle to Chertsey weir which was running a strange combination of all gates open and some nasty looking stoppers on the left and no flow at all on the right, possibly due to some repair work going on. In all the surfing opportunities were disappointingly limited, so we soon portaged back up above the weir and started back upriver to the put in.
We all felt like we’d had a good bit of exercise after the trip from paddling against the Thames, but what turned into a beautiful if cold sunny day through attractive countryside had made it worth while.
Thanks to Chris for the roller photo.