Five Nomads led by Matt set out from the aquadrome on Sunday the 11th April for the club’s first trip of 2021 – a local jaunt up the Grand Union canal to the river Gade and round Croxley business park to rejoin the canal at Croxley Moor. The club area was pleasantly busy with members for the polo session, the recreational session and the trip all there – almost like old times, except of course that social distancing and hygiene precautions were maintained.
The weather was warmer than the previous week and it became pleasantly sunny as we put in at the lock and were joined by Graham on his first paddle with the club in a couple of years. Because of our novelty value we attracted much attention and many hellos from passers by as we headed out of Rickmansworth toward Croxley and it felt good to be off somewhere.
As we arrived at the weir where the Gade leaves the Grand Union we attracted more spectators keen to see us shoot the weir and disappear under the road. Unfortunately this was not to be, as despite the very good flow our short boats would still probably have crashed into the concrete weir apron, so we walked to the other side of the bridge to put into a very fast flow coming through the bridge. A short straight run avoiding tree hazards took us to the first bend where we thought we’d lost Tony only to find he’d taken a detour left to inspect a drainage culvert.
The river looked deep and pretty clean as we circumnavigated the housing estate and we spotted a couple of muntjac deer grazing on the right bank, who soon made off when they saw us. Once round the housing estate the hazards started so our three less experienced paddlers hung back while Martyn and Matt scouted the first blind corner for low pipe and tree hazards. Sure enough we found them and could just limbo the first pipe, but not the second, a cow catcher which was almost at water level, so we got out and ran back to tell the others to portage. A very short stretch took us to Croxley Moor where we stopped for snack and to inspect the ‘chute of death’ shortly awaiting us.
It was beautifully sunny with only a slight cold breeze as we enjoyed our snacks and soon put in again to limbo the low bridge above the sloping weir. It wasn’t the easiest limbo due to the high water level and various different styles were attempted, but we all made it under, to be rewarded by an exhilarating slide down into the weir’s quite potent stopper. Of course we took advantage to play in this according to our ability with Matt and then Tony quite surprised to be held end on quite strongly in the right hand wave, such that it took us a good minute (or two!) to get out.
After this play we paddled the remaining hundred yards on the Gade and portaged back over to the canal for what felt like a long slog back to Rickmansworth. By this time Graham must have been wishing he’d stayed with the recreational session for his first paddle, but he held up well and at Batchworth we split up and took different chutes and weirs around the lock according to our experience to regroup by Tesco. This was a nice end to a rewarding paddle and taste of trips to soon to come further afield. Thanks to all who came.
Matt, trip leader