On Sunday 12th July seven Nomads and a friend led by Matt and Martyn in two socially isolated ‘pods’ met at Aston slip on the Thames below Henley for a leisurely paddle and picnic. It was an idyllic day with glorious sunshine, barely any wind and not too much flow on the river to hamper our upstream progress.
After a short safety briefing we put on to the water, forming our two pods, before starting gently upstream toward Hambleden weir, our first and only portage and possible play spot. With the low flow the weir was a trickle over most of its width, but one gate was open and three local playboaters advised us on its safety (safe as you get). Having satisfied themselves they either weren’t going to come out or if they did could swim to the handy island just downriver, five of our number had a little play, led as usual by Martin.
Having tired ourselves out enough for now we made our way upstream past Henley School of Management past the eyot onto the Royal Regatta course and past the rowing clubs up to Henley bridge. Being such a nice day the pub terrace at the bridge was packed and plenty of leisure boats and the odd scull were passing by for us to avoid.
A short stretch later past the rowing museum brought us to the park and our picnic spot just below Marsh weir. The one metre bank height was a cause of consternation to many, but we all scaled it without incident to find a sunny spot on the grass for our picnics and a natter. We took out time over a very fine lunch and conversation and, for some, ice creams.
Suitably refreshed and rested we got back in with a few of us braving the metre plus vertical seal launch (well done) and others opting for the easier jetty below Marsh weir. Though pretty, the weir wasn’t for playing on so we soon started our way back downstream through Henley town and beyond. A strange quirk of wind or current or both resulted in the return leg back to Hambleden weir being unexpectedly harder work for some of our number.
At Hambleden weir those with helmets and who wanted to shot the weir just opposite the rescue island and despite there being very little flow, there was an interesting big-ish drop at the end to keep us on our toes – it had looked like steps from below! Of course another quick play in the weir was in order for the braver of us.
Now only half a mile or less remained back to the slip and we arrived tired but very happy. It had been a welcome and surprisingly varied return to club trips on a day that couldn’t have been nicer. Thanks to Martyn for co-leading the trip and to everyone who came along.
Matt, trip co-leader