Hertford Lea trip report

On the 8th of December eleven enthusiastic Nomads led by Matt braved the cold and wind to travel to Hertford to paddle the river Lea. Such was Ian’s enthusiasm he couldn’t wait to get to the normal put in and persuaded us to launch alpine style into the ditch next to the car park leading down to the Lea, which went without incident. Once on the Lea proper we grouped up by Herts canoe club to paddle the short stretch in glorious if cold sunshine with a kingfisher down to the first weir.

Needless to say it was impossible to contain Martin, but the rest of us also enjoyed some ferry gliding and, for the more experienced, some playing in the stopper.

Before everyone else got too fed up we pushed on downriver through fields and under low hanging trees on a pretty loop of the river that brought us out onto the Lea navigation with London far away to our left and the centre of Hertford a mile away to our right. Forsaking the distant attractions of London we turned right into a strong, cold headwind upriver toward Hertford and the first portage and gossiping opportunity at the lock.

The wind was by now quite cold and some of us were starting to feel a bit chilly as we battled against the headwind past old and modern buildings to arrive at the pool in the centre of Hertford. Prudence suggested finding somewhere to stop for lunch or at least a hot drink soon, so we paddled up under Hertford town bridge and portaged the sloping weir at the top of the right branch of the river. A few newer members of Hertford canoe club were having their first taste of the big town weir, so we watched them run it before paddling up to stop for lunch in the park opposite the picturesque Hertford town hall. Thankfully for us at this point the wind dropped for about 20 minutes allowing us to lunch and compare gear in (relative) comfort.

The wind picked up again before we put back in though, and with some people asking how much further we had to go, we decided to turn back to the car park, but not before having a bit of fun on the town weir. With Matt and Ian providing safety everyone took a shot at the weir.

Well done everyone for managing what was quite an exciting looking weir and commiserations to Annette, who’s sailed down the infinitely more daunting weir on the Ivel. It must just have been a bad day.

Thanks to everyone for braving the cold and Simon, Martin and Rose for lifts.

Matt, trip leader