On the weekend of May 13/14 Dave, Zoe, Jai, Hannah, and Conrad, met up at the pre booked Riverside camp site in Yalding Kent.
The plan was to paddle the non-tidal river Medway from Tonbridge to Maidstone in 2 days.
Day 1 would be a get in at Tonbridge and out at the campsite in Yalding, then day 2 would be from the campsite to Maidstone with a shuttle back to the campsite on the Sunday.
We arrived on the Friday afternoon and as the tents, hotel and other structures went up the sun came out, as is usual for one of Dave’s trips, but there was a chill in the air, so once all set we lit the fire pit that had been supplied by the campsite.
Just before it got dark we were joined by Andrew, Nomads newly qualified Paddlesport instructor and SUP officer.
Hannah (Nutrition and snacks Expert) spent some time demonstrating to Jai (bug in/out Expert) that comfort can be done camping, she had brought a settee that wouldn’t have been out of place in Dave’s (the weather expert) Hotel.
Lunches were cooked and the next day was finalised,
One by one we turned in for a comfy night’s sleep under the canvas of our relative structures.
Saturday morning as we rose we decided that Andy was an expert in his own right, if anyone can snore properly (if there is such a thing) then Andy can do it like a pro. (Night time scare the Wolves away expert)
Breakfast was on the go with what seemed like a cook off, but Hannah’s eggs beat posh coffee any day.
At this point Graham arrived at the campsite and was all set to go.
Kit loaded and off to the get-in at Tonbridge Castle, wow we were in a queue once parked up.
On the water we were behind SUP with Ana’s Group about 13 paddlers, but ahead of Bishop Stortford club of at least 20 paddlers, all heading for the campsite we were staying at.
Downstream we went enjoying the scenery of the Medway and looking forward to the canoe slides at the locks and sluices, the Medway has been in flood for much of the year and the passes have been closed, although with a careful recce and discussion some were rideable so we took the opportunity and went for it.
Lots of fun was had by all, especially the bug out expert, who, on his second run, decided to celebrate before exiting the white stuff, over he went, and a short swim to the side he had it all in control and was still laughing,
Rejoining us on the water we continued downstream.
Nomads are not great at rafting up, but I think we cracked this one.
We ran a few canoe slides and apart from our Jaister all were successful and enjoyed by all.
Zoe was at the pub in Yalding awaiting our arrival and took these pics as we approached our portage and get out. Day 1 done.
Dave was approached by Ana, one of her group had left her car at the get in, open and with all the windows down, and as they didn’t do shuttling and we did he was asked to secure the car when we went to collect our vehicles, so our shuttling plans split into two, and the 1st team set off to retrieve the vehicles whilst Dave waited for the key from Ana when her group arrived, (ladies in the pub took ages) but soon Jai and Dave were at the vehicle in question.
Dave looked into the vehicle and looked horrified, and was soon on the phone to Ana, who passed the phone to the owner, “it’s been ransacked, it’s a total mess” he said the glove box was open, stuff everywhere! He was assured by the owner, “ITS ALWAYS LIKE THAT, ITS FINE” omg.
So it was locked and secured and we returned to the campsite, where the fire pit was alight, drinks were flowing and Graham had pitched a thing that looked good, with a pole and everything.
Day 2, Yalding to Maidstone.
Up early and raring to go, we double checked the days plans, it was now evident there was a boat race in Maidstone, parking had been restricted, and that and the Maidstone 1 way system would make life a bit difficult for us, with a discussion, we decided to cut our journey, save time and shuttling, and revert to a plan b, leaving less than 4 miles to complete.
We would leave Yalding and go downstream to East Farleigh Lock and return, about 10 miles in total, but would save lots of time in the shuttle and logistics etc.
We were joined at about 8am by Nathan (not an expert) yet.
Andy had decided to Paddleboard day 2, to show how it should be done to the group camped next to us, (Sup with Ana) .
A nice paddle downstream with almost a paddle-through bakery on our river left and an Ice-cream paddle-through on river right, but omg the queue was massive as the Stortford group had gotten there 1st. So we paddled past.
We reached our 1st canoe pass, a double drop, and guided by both Dave and Conrad all enjoyed the somewhat turbulent water and managed to stay upright, except Andy who had to portage.
At an unknown bridge we overtook Ana’s paddle boarders, and as we were just edging it although not racing, Andy became vocal, it seemed dancing on his board, with a WOO, WOO, WOOA, then a splash, (that was a proper SEAL launch).
All safe and back on his board to a round of applause, on we went.
Reaching East Farleigh lock the boat race was in full swing, with us having to give way to those coming through, Dave and Ian (sup with Ana) organised the get out for lunch and turn around point for us.
The paddle back upstream wasn’t too bad, Hannah set the pace, and it was pretty gruelling, the girl had eggs for breakfast, and no toilet facilities were apparent so in follow mode we went.
With a few stops on the way back and upstream, we arrived back at our campsite.
What a great weekend!
We are planning part C on the 17th Sept, or possibly the 16/17th if we decide on camping.
Write up by Dave H