River Thames Section 1b – Castle Eaton to Lechlade Trip Report

2nd January 2023

6.8 miles downstream paddle, starting where trip 1a ended (Castle Eaton Red Lion Pub) to Lechlade.

Paddlers: Dave Hillier (Trip Leader), Phillip Gent (without doggies), Ian Walker (Safety and Report Writer)

Just 3 of us set off sliding into the flooded Thames after Graham (shuttle) helping with us with car shuttle leaving both Dave’s van and Phil’s car at the Lechlade carpark end point.  Weather for a recent change was sunny all day, felt bit chilly at 7 degrees Celsius on average for trip, but when in the sun quite nice with only a slight wind.  

Dave gave our trip briefing, main warning being to watch out for hidden obstacles in the faster and much higher than usual flowing upper River Thames.

The river is normally well inside this tree where Phil got on, so maybe level up nearly meter in flood:

Normal scene in summer here:

We 3 waved Graham goodbye and set off. Ian trying to slide down the steepest part of hill from pub garden, but ended up a needed 3 goes as grass was very grippy.

Ian had a go slaloming round flooded trees. Being careful for hidden fences.

The biggest problem was keeping on the river and not paddling off into flooded fields. Normally could see fence or tree/bush line to help work out where the proper river was.

We came to Hannington bridge after 2.7 miles. Ian was very glad choose to wear his helmet as went for tight middle arch paddle under, LIMBO!  In hindsight was a risk he would get stuck. However, with a tight forward’s crouch managed with some large gouges in his prized Sweet-tooth blue helmet to get through.

Therefore, Ian shouted for Dave and Phil to not attempt paddle under bridge as they had no helmets and we took an early lunch break on the sunny bridge after portage round.

Then after friendly discussion with local fisherman on the bridge talking about the floods and surprising abandoned motor craft appearing up this way sometimes.

Looking downstream from Hannington bridge:

Next section was more trees to make wide arcs around which was harder for Phil with his long sea kayak.

We did a bag of litter picking off the river to go along with ‘Clear-Access, Clear Water’ principles. Mainly plastic bottles litter in river picked up, also Ian picked up 3 footballs along the way, keeping the best 2 balls & took home.

We had a game of catch and sometimes throw and soak your fellow paddlers with serious splashes!

Then we had a final stop to soak up views and sunshine before urbanisation with motor boats and Lechlade appeared.  We decided not to have a football game here as field was covered in cow pats:

We got off the river in Leachlade before the main river bridge. Egressed on river-right to have short walk across the muddy fields to the car park where cars were left.

The Riverside pub is over the other side (in front of church) where we debriefed the trip.

A calm pleasant Paddle trip complete.

We finished up with a welcome pint in the sun in Lechlade at The Riverside pub.

*The end*

Write up by Ian Walker.

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