River Cam through Cambridge

9 July 2023

We met in the Water Street car park. A very nice, quiet spot east of the town centre. The weather looked a bit threatening and the weather forecast was mixed but Dave assured us the it never rains on his trips and on this occasion he was right. It was a beautiful day throughout. Given that this was my first trip I have to assume that this is always the case since 100% of my experience proves it.

After Phil got his dogs settled onto the front of his kayak and following Conrad’s slightly unorthodox entrance to the river we headed off upstream through the suburbs of Cambridge and it was peaceful and calm beginning to our 5.4 mile journey towards lunch before turning around and heading back

This section of the river is interesting in that it has 3 distinct sections that are entirely different to each other. The first, up to Jesus Green lock, was made notable by the peace of the setting being punctuated by coxed eights passing by in military precision or sitting gathering their collective breath whilst being shouted at from the bank by people of bicycles. We were on our toes but it remained incident-free

The second section up to the next lock was right through the heart of Cambridge with it’s ivy covered walls and eons-old buildings. We had to thread our way through the punts which kept us  entertained. It was spectacular and beautiful and a bit crowded but also amazing

The third section was a total change and completely countrified. There were very few people (and even fewer if you only count the ones with their clothes on). The trees bowed over the river in places or opened out into fields in others. There was no noticeable current but by the time we stopped for lunch I could definitely tell I had been paddling against something. The river appeared clean if a little weed choked in places. The picnickers who lines the banks in places were instantly enamoured with Phil’s little dogs

We stopped for lunch at an old mill. Apparently there is a tearooms right there but we had all brought our own lunches so we watched the local scouts being put through there paces learning the basics of kayaking. It was all properly idillic.

The trip home was a return journey. In many ways it was more of the same. More beauty, more peace, more nude swimmers, more sunshine, more wildlife and way more punters in the second section.

It reminded me of a scene from Starwars where huge star ships were crashing into each other with the little fighters zipping around in between trying not to get caught up in the mess (our kayaks being the fighters of course). It’s got to be said: a lot of those punters had no idea how to drive a punt. It was entertaining though

It was an excellent day in a life not-wasted and I enjoyed it all (even the bits where I was totally exhausted and wasn’t sure I could paddle another stroke)

The team

Dave Hillier – Mum (but not while you’re on land)

Sue L – Finger pointer

Pierre L – Research and dogs body

Conrad C – show off

Phil G – Attention Grabber

John M – Vicar

Chris B – Report writer

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