River Wey Trip Report

On Sunday 11th September, 8 Nomads arrived at the Rowbarge pub near Guildford in Surrey for a day’s paddling and exploring of the River Wey and a sidewater. Led by Dave Hillier and ably assisted by Graham Summers this was a placid water paddle of 9 miles upstream and back, with a looping backwater just before our planned lunch stop.

We arrived in good time, well I say we, I mean six of us did, two turned up a little later in a convertible beetle with the roof down looking a bit windswept but pointing out they were not as late as Amie last time.

We were aiming to be on the water for 10am, so at 10.15am we started our safety briefing, we also felt the need to take a moment and hold a minute’s silence for the loss of our Queen before our warm up exercise. This went well although Phillip still can’t work out right from left, but we got there in the end.

Suitably kitted up we were soon on the water and heading through the centre of Guildford. As usual Fifi and Coco cuddled up with Phil, around a corner Dave saw a bridge and suggested we raft up for a photo, he was told to not be silly that’s an ugly bridge and we will wait for a better looking one by Rachael. So we moved on.

Further upstream was our first portage at Millmead Lock, everyone worked as a team moving boats and generally helping each other so this was done in a matter of minutes and we were soon back on the water, a brief pause for a photo at a bridge that was acceptable (Pilgrim’s Way). Then a left turn on a side stream, this was a lovely detour from the main river, small bendy with lots of fallen trees and we never knew what was around the next corner, progressing slowly but for safety reasons someone (Nathan, Ross) actually asked a few times if we were lost!. Everyone else just went around Dave (me) and John was sitting on a sunken tree wriggling like mad, Ross had found an easier way.

The portage was however a little challenging, with a three foot ladder of tree roots to hang onto as you exited your boat, but luckily enough Dave attached his sling to each boat in turn and again working as a team the boats were pulled up the bank gently, as were the paddlers.  All out of the water and looking for a safe place to put back in on the main river, without getting prickled or stung to death, we as a group decided on a spot and it seemed the only way in was an assisted slide, from three foot up, this you will be glad to know all went well and we were soon on our way to our lunch stop.

At this point Graham took over as Dave was still upset that Rachael hadn’t liked his bridge

Graham spotted a small gap with an easy exit and asked the group to wait while he ventured a little further upstream to see if there was anywhere better, keeping eyes on the group he returned and said this was our easiest, not ideal as the sun was out and it seemed to be in the shade. So one at a time out we got, again working as a team before you knew it we were all on the bank looking for our picnics, someone said there are benches over there, that was it, we were soon sitting on them, multicoloured and in the sun, at this point it was mentioned that Chris had messaged asking about how far it was to lunch, ages ago, Chris was at the time on a train heading to Morocco.

It was now gone 1pm, so 2 hours 45 mins of the trip and we had come the long way around, we had planned to be getting off the water about 4.30pm, so we had our lunch and suitably refreshed we headed back to the water.

Now it was all downstream and our pace was good, we approached St Catherine’s Lock in good time and everyone managed to get out and portage very quickly, Dave tried a slide seal launch from a grassy bank next to a bridge but it wasn’t as smooth as normal, so we continued downstream.

Past our entry to the side stream we continued towards the Wayside inn, where we noticed a sign saying boat service, does that include KAYAKS?

Shortly after was Millstream Lock that we portaged on the way up, and again this went smoothly with all hands making light work.

We passed many paddle boarders, naked swimmers, (well two of them) and came across a rowing club. Dave being a Dave asked one of the rowing fours why they didn’t wear a buoyancy aid, simple question, the answer was from what looked like a 12 year old and I quote “cos we’ve been capsize trained and we know what to do” on that note another rowing 4’s boat crashed into Dave, although they will say he crashed into them. The whole group of Nomads found this funny and it was just past Rachael’s ugly bridge, anyway moving on.

A nice gentle paddle downstream followed although Hannah was feeling it a bit after a late night drumming for a gig local to our get in, she actually booked a hotel to be able to join this trip. Soon we were back at the Rowbarge pub, 4.15pm and cleaning and drying of boats and kit was taking place, once that was squared away we proceeded to the refreshment area where Phillip had organised a debrief table or two, on the left? Or was it right? Anyway we debriefed, so all in all a great trip.

Thanks Graham for Assisting.

Thanks to Hannah, Ross, Nathan, Rachael, John, and  Phillip for attending.

Write up by Dave Hillier

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