Private Paddle Invitation – River Medway Friday February 4th

David Hillier and friends will be paddling an easy 8 mile in total canalised inland section of the Medway in Kent starting around 10am on Friday the 4th of February and invites any other Nomad members with their own equipment to join him for the paddle at their own responsibility. Contact him on 07588 671401 if you’re interested for further details.

5 thoughts on “Private Paddle Invitation – River Medway Friday February 4th

  • Kris Gruber

    Sorry Dave, I can’t make this one, but if it’s anything like the Thames trip I went on with you Pierre and Sue it’ll be well organised and enjoyable. Hope to make another trip soon !

  • Chris Harper

    I will be joining Dave and a few others on this trip. It’s a follow up to a Thames trip that a similar group did before Xmas. nice relaxing paddle with friendly people.

  • Pierre

    Looking forward to doing this trip. Especially as it starts and ends by a tea shop 😊. If the sun comes out for us that’ll be a bonus. Yes, a nice relaxing paddle out is definitely something to break the dull winter. Cheers Dave.

  • Dave Hillier

    Daves Private Paddle
    River Medway 04.02.2022
    Dave H, John M, Sue and Pierre Leon.
    On Friday 4th Feb 22, 4 of us from Nomads set off on a private paddle on the river Medway in Kent. We started at Teapot Island, a well known spot for paddlers of all abilities. To the left of the get in there is a weir pool with an automatic sluice gate that creates some amazing white water. It attracts not only the local Kayak club to come out just before it opens but paddlers from all over the country trying to home their skills in what can be trying conditions. With an old bridge not far behind and the sluice just in front, the trick is not to get washed past the old bridge as due to the flow gaining ground is very hard.
    We planned a 10.30 get in with Sue and Pierre travelling in their own car and John and myself in my van. We all arrived at 09.30 and for a Friday, traffic on the M25 was brilliant. It was peeing down with rain, overcast and pretty gloomy but I had called ahead and seemed to have made friends with the cafe owners. They opened up early for us to shelter, sit and wait in the warm until the coffee machine had warmed up.
    Then the usual coffee, tea, cake or pudding, toilet, and nattering about the weather went on between us and we decided to make a decision as to go further or call the trip off. This was due to us receiving various messages to say it was snowing up north of the M25 and it was lashing down in Kent. We decided to check various weather apps that all said it should be ok by 11am and then the sun should come out for the rest of the day.
    So after another cuppa, cake and toilet, the rain stopped. We gathered and had a safety briefing, discussed the route, and decided as a group to go ahead. The Rain had stopped about 15 mins earlier than forecast, so we were at the get in point and getting ready ahead of time.
    Once kitted up and everyone was happy we decided to put in. John was 1st in paddling around a small tributary warming up for the 12K paddle ahead. Sue was next, followed by Pierre and then me. All in, we avoided the sluice and automatic gates and stayed a hard right onto the main river paddling upstream.
    Past the hustle and bustle of the static mobile homes on our left and the pub on our right, we were soon around the first bend of our trip. A great big Oast house was on our right and we all had a conversation about it, its use in the past and how nice it looked now.
    Around the first bend there was an area to explore on our river right so after a quick discussion we decided to have a look. In we went, about 300 mtrs then we were blocked by what seemed to be a floating net of sorts – afloat by bottles and foam. Nothing the EA or Rivers trust would use but we thought hey ho, someone doesn’t want us past and we still had a long way to go so we turned around and ventured back to the Medway.
    Turning right from our gander up the stream and continuing on our route we were soon in silence. The river was mirror glass in places, a bit of a breeze in others but so soo quiet. The feeling was unreal, we felt so far away from any civilisation, a majestic feeling, we all kept stopping and just taking it all in. The words on everyone’s lips were “this is lovely”.
    Upstream a bit further we came across a disused lock. For some reason this seemed such a deserted tranquil place that once had so much use, but the water was hardy moving and we ventured through and around. There was a boat moored on the right with a fire on and smoke coming from the chimney that sort of gave a warming feeling and a stink of wet logs burning too. It was so quiet and we had left the noise of the roads and towns behind.
    Another mile upstream we saw the Paddle cabin on our left, with a nice mooring area, slide and benches – all a kayaker could need for a stop off. This was where I had done my FSRT so I know the people, but they were shut. The gate to the river was closed, the cafe was shut, and the toilets are accessed by the gate so were unable to enter them. I shouldn’t have told them I was coming.
    Onwards and up river we progressed, passing around the many bends and under the main train bridge. You need to time your approach right so not to have spiders fall on you if a train is passing – they always toot as approaching though!
    Round the many bends of the river and under many bridges, some with graffiti that looks awesome as modern art, we came across a local swimming spot for the summer. This spot harboured a log and stick built diving platform, bathtub, changing room and karsy. Top notch!
    Next was sluice weir with the kayak/canoe slide we were all looking forward to – it looked awesome. An automatic sluice on the river right made us aware as it was huge, so we stayed left and portaged; studying everything we could from every angle. In preparation for the way back, we carried out a dynamic risk assessment and agreed it was within our capabilities.
    The river started to straighten out a bit, longer stretches, the sun was out and we were all happy paddlers. It wasn’t long before we arrived at our turnaround point, Oak Weir Lock. LUNCH!
    We portaged and decided we were going to get back in at the same place meaning we could just tie the boats to the mooring, instead of hauling them out of the water. This went well and we stumbled across an unused picnic bench, fancy that? We made use of it whilst the workman that were supposed to be working on the lock had no idea we were there at 2pm and were all tucked up in their port cabin.
    After a brief lunch (too much English mustard makes your forehead explode) and chat we decided to head back downstream. Safety again, we first discussed the weir and kayak slide that we had risk assessed on the way upstream. We all seal launched from the pontoon we were moored to as it seemed the easiest way, and soon we were all happily floating/steering downstream.
    Sluice Weir – John decided he didn’t want run it this time and volunteered to be our safety and guide. We all discussed hand signals we’d decided to use due to the noise of the water in the weir. John ready in place, gave the signal to Pierre and down the slide he went. On seeing Pierre’s paddle up and Johns all clear, Sue was next – perfect, me next, and I’m down too. Sue was sat back in an eddy, John was still up top and me and Pierre decided to go again. We portaged and made our way back to the top. Second run and I’m first down followed by Pierre soon after – what a great slide!
    Nomads could spend all day here, there is something for everyone.
    Back downstream past the diving platforms, under the bridges, round the bends in the river was very quiet. Often paddlers just leaning back and resting their paddle on the deck, sometimes spinning around, just looking at each other, going with the flow, relaxed and enjoying the day.
    Quote of the day “this is lovely”.
    We spent about 4 hours in the water, and covered 12K, up and back with breaks. I would recommend this trip to anyone, and WE can’t wait to do it again!
    That’s why I love Kayaking – those moments… Dave Hillier

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