Friday 27th January 2023
6 Paddlers: Dave (Trip leader), Nigel (Safety), Sue, Pierre, Conrad, Phillip and two chihuahuas (CoCo and FiFi) paddled downstream on the River Thames from Aston (Henley on Thames) passing Magpie Island and the famous Hurley weir onto Marlow.
This stretch of the river is described as “quintessentially Thames with attractive landscapes, appealing history and culture”.
It is also mentioned in “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome as “wiggling its way through lovely countryside with constant interest along its banks”.
Believe me, it does live up to this fabulous reputation.
Winter kayaking is different from paddling in the Summer; it is just as enjoyable and just as thrilling and magnificent, but you really need to be dressed for the part.
Appropriate clothing for the time of year is essential, refer Recommended Kit – Nomad Kayak Club even more so when the air temperature is barely above the freezing point of water.
This was trip 10a of the river Thames that we paddle on the last Friday of every month.
Our trips started from near to the source of the river (where it becomes navigable in a kayak) to the tidal stretch of the river in central London.
Every 10-mile trip has been different with new experiences and challenges.
During this trip, we passed through Hurley Lock and then Temple Lock.
The big surprise on this trip was to kayak along a stretch of the river that was completely encased in ice.
Even when it is very cold, a fast-flowing river will not freeze over, it is only when the flow is slow and the river is shaded by trees that a river will turn to ice.
This was the case, just after the Hurley lock for about half a mile because most of the flow was cascading over the weir, adjacent to the lock.
We had to be very careful in order to avoid capsizing in the freezing cold water as we smashed and prodded the ice with our paddles.
After passing through the iced over river we then paddled against the current in order to gain access to the lower side of the weir, where we broke for lunch.
The current was very strong and it was difficult to paddle against the flow.
After lunch Conrad and Nigel joined three other kayakers who were paddling the white water emanating from the weir.
One kayaker was lucky not to lose his kayak when he landed back on the bank.
After passing through Temple Lock, we then paddled under the Marlow Suspension Bridge to the “get out”, ending up at the Two Brewers public house for a drink and a debrief.
We still have 40 more miles to paddle before we reach the edge of London.
Write up by Phillip Gent