On Sunday 13th of June seven Nomads and a friend led by Simon paddled from Wargrave through the Hennerton backwater to Henley and on to the Aston slipway. On a day set for scorching temperatures parking was at a premium. Lots of enthusiasts were taking to the water in SUPs, canoes and inflatables and a multitude of bikes to avoid meant we had to be patient. Thank you to the tenant of the Flower Pot pub for letting some of us park in her overflow car park.
After parking, shuttling back with masks and a safety briefing we started off dead on time at 10.45am to head down the Hennerton backwater, marvelling at the size of the houses and agreeing they were not for us as there would be too much gardening. Tony led the team down the backwater ably challenged by new member, Rafael and Matt on his heels. The rest of us were content to chat and enjoy the scenery. Mike, our guest seemed keen not to do anything too strenuous!
Passing many inflatables, canoes, kayaks and SUPs we portaged at Marsh lock, played on the end of the white water weir tails then paddled on towards Henley. After a photo stop in Henley (above) we continued down the Thames to a lunch spot chosen by Matt, who stated on a few occasions a good spot to stop would be “just beyond the next tree” – as mentioned to all, a plan needs flexibility!
On then to Hambledon Lock, where we inspected to check water levels and gauge both experience and enthusiasm to run the weir. Encouragingly three paddlers had the courage to miss it out, preferring to provide safety at the bottom – discretion awarded and well done – their presence as safety was appreciated. A slight ‘mishap’ meant one paddler self- rescuing without fuss using recently learnt FSRT skills – well done! He was the first down and caused some anxious moments for the queue of paddlers behind awaiting their turn, though all went smoothly.
A good 30 minute play session on the (big!) white water below the weir was enjoyed by most (Mike our guest seemed keen not to do anything too strenuous), before we paddled the 20 minutes to reach the exit point at 3.00pm – pretty much on time, allowing for ‘flexibility’!
There were a few good natured moans about carrying our boats to the cars, “this handle is not made for carrying”, “where’s the chauffeur”, “why don’t we have a red carpet” – these translated as tiredness and were not taken to heart – although we remembered (Mike our guest seemed keen not to do anything too strenuous). Back to the start point to pick up all the cars, a quick pub visit and then return home after a good paddle meant a successful day.
Thanks to everyone for making it a good day – Matt for picking up and returning equipment from the Aquadrome, Rafael (and his Dad) for assistance on their first trip, Tony for showing natural leadership, Graham and Dan for their good naturedness throughout, David for his dry humour and Mike for the header picture, slowing things down and not rushing – his Nomads membership application is now TBC. Well done Rafael for your first trip with Nomads and very good paddling throughout.
Simon, trip leader