Well he promised us a good trip and he delivered. Well done Dave Hillier!
On Sunday 17th July, nine Club members (and two associate dogs) set set off early from Rickmansworth to head to Teapot Island on the River Medway for an eight-mile round trip along a non-tidal section. Planned to start at 10:00, some had logistical and site location issues which coupled with equipment preparations, delayed the set off for the whole team. Suitably prepared by Dave’s briefing presentation we set off from a purpose built get-in at 10:50.
The stretch of water was beautiful with several scenic views including an oast house, a variety of bridges, some locks, a thrown together ‘diving’ platform and a few pill boxes to count! The water was quite busy with other craft including various sized inflatables, Canoes, SUPs (often in convoy), rubber dinghies and swimmers. Also, many people were enjoying the water from the banks using swings and some on weirs, as well as many jumpers leaping in from the sides, bridges and locks. Of course, the odd fisherman too, although clearly the friendly variety.
Phillip upgraded his doggy craft with a pole mounted umbrella for Coco and Fifi but sadly this was lost at the first bridge (50 metres in) as it was simply too high to go underneath and had to be taken down. Would have been fine on any other trip. A good idea that needs more work. The ‘girls’ were protected by the shade of the trees and an occasional dunk in the water. We were not the only group with dogs on board.
The trip out was 2hrs 40 mins of gentle paddling including one upstream lock portage where we viewed the Canoe slide that would be a challenge for us on the way back. The portage here was a challenge in itself as we had to pass the boats about eight feet up a bank before moving them on beyond the lock. Every one helped and it was good teamwork that set the theme for the day. This included a six-kayak snake, like a conga line, to cross a narrow bridge.
Lunch was at Oak Weir where a conveniently placed large picnic table provided an ideal setting. A few brought out plastic bottles which had been frozen solid to gradually release drinking water (good idea) and a variety of food was consumed during the 30-minute break. At this weir there is another Canoe slide (big enough to take Dinghies too) and all (except Phillip and the girls as not suitable for their craft) gave it a whirl and were video-ed doing it successfully (see below for videos).
Suitably refreshed we set off back and Amie decided to challenge the ‘diving board’. However, soon realised that it was poorly built and too unstable/dangerous, so a leap in from the lower levels sufficed.
So, a good trip for anyone ‘spray deck’ trained or on their first trip, as well as for the more experienced. It was a nice paddle in good company who worked together very well as a team. Although a 70 mile drive each way to the start it is worth it and a good event to add to our annual list of trips. We did chat to the very friendly owners of a Canoe/kayak etc hire business who operate from Teapot Island and picked up some useful tips from them.
Well done Dave for convincing us to travel so far and leading/organising a much-enjoyed trip, and to Rachael, Maryam, Pam, Mike, Nathan, Amiee and Phillip for participating. I look forward to paddling with you all again.