Participants were myself (Dave Hiller), Sue and Pierre Leon, Conrad Chambers, Chris Harper, Phillip Gent, Hannah Smith and John Murray.
It’s often said ‘It’s not all about the water you’re paddling on, but who you’re paddling with’, well today was just that. This write up is from me, as I saw it (and with the lack of a volunteer to do it, it has landed on my lap). So here goes (sorry to bore you).
Section 8, of the River Thames, Pangbourne to Reading, the shortest section yet but the hardest so far to sort out. At this point I must say a massive thank you to Pierre who went above and beyond and sorted our parking from a building he was once shackled to.
Eight of us on the water and heading downstream towards Reading, Hannah was completing her Paddlesport Discover Assessment but seemed really relaxed in her new Yak dry trousers and TMF boots along with her many sweet treats that she started eating on the way to the get in (and bananas),
Chris also has new Yak dry trousers but decided not to wear them as the forecast was sunny (once it had stopped raining).
With shuttling done by Graham we were all set at the get in. And after a new warm up, off we went, with Phillip and the girls (coco and Fifi) we were on our way.
Downstream with a flow the river opened up and was surprisingly quiet of other traffic.
Our first lock was manually operated and a kind lady did this whilst I was out and looking for a dramatic seal launch back in, but joined the group in the lock telling Conrad the weir had some flow on it to the left after the lock.
That was it, the lock gate opened and Conrad was on one, around he went, and had his first play so far in a Thames weir. We all had a play within our comfort zones and no one got wet so that was a bonus.
Lunch was next, and we were looking for ‘Apple Tree Island’ – we paddled past it! So we decided on another island not too far beyond. With a bit of teamwork we were soon eating, drinking and chatting – everyone was happy.
After about an hour we were all set to continue, so one after the other we launched back on the Thames. This section had no Pill Boxes that we saw but we did see some lovely sights as well as some weird ones, including a mysterious post box.
Lots of people taking photos of Phillip and the girls from the banks as well as the many bridges we paddled under.
All the passing motorboat owners or hirers, as well as the lock keepers were really friendly, giving us a wave as they went by or generally greeting us with pleasantries.
The weather was absolutely stunning, 18-20 degrees with only a slight breeze so much so Sue didn’t even wear her helmet all day.
John seemed to have chilled out after his bad start to the day, (an ex taxi driver with the knowledge got lost on the way to the pickup point) but recovered well and seemed to be enjoying himself as he always does.
Next on the riverbanks were Reading Canoe Club and Reading Rowing Club stunning club buildings with nice easy access to the river.
Then on to Caversham Bridge where the river opened up pretty wide with Fry’s Island in the middle with Reading Bridge shortly after.
Just after that we approached Caversham lock and we all stayed seated in our craft as the lock keeper had seen us coming and had the lock filled and ready for us to pass through.
The weir after the lock was not really passing much water so after a quick look and rest break we decided to continue the last 1 mile to our get out.
We arrived at Wokingham waterside centre in good time, almost 16km in 5hrs 16mins less an hour for lunch and rest stops and playtimes, pretty good going I think.
Hannah was completing her Paddle discover course on this trip and passed with flying colours. Well done Hannah!
After we left the water we all set about drying, cleaning and loading our boats and kit before debriefing and making our way back. Another great day on the Thames was had by all!
Section 9 is next up on 25th November and is in the planning but will be an early start due to the light conditions and be warned its 12 miles. Watch the website for more details.
You’ve read the trip report, now watch Pierre’s video!