On saturday 2nd February four Nomads led by Matt overcame their meteorological pessimism due to overstated media reports of snow and met at New Haw lock in Addlestone to paddle a 12 mile circuit around the Wey Navigation and river Wey. Despite the forecast the weather started out fine and sunny as we headed south under the M25 and we all felt overdressed as we followed the beautiful tree lined navigation past attractive houses and fields against a slight current. Simon was soon locating us by golf courses as we passed a canal side pub he recognised at our only lock portage on the navigation. About a mile further through fields and woodland brought us to an ancient lock dated 1653, our lunch stop and site of the weir that would soon take us onto the river Wey proper.
The sun disappeared for spells as we lunched and it became decidedly chilly, so we didn’t hang about and soon crossed the navigation to portage below the weir. The Wey level was high and the weir thundering with a strong towback, so we didn’t play and pushed on downstream, wary of the fast current and possibility of tree hazards. We didn’t have to wait long, as a couple of river-wide downed trees only 100 metres below the weir forced us to inspect and decide on a portage for safety’s sake.
Our progress was swift with the current and we continued to be wary of tree hazards with several stops for inspection and some cautious ferry gliding in places to avoid series of trees in the water on alternate sides. Soon we were in Simon’s favourite golf course, with few golfers to be seen, but a splendid view as the boily water carried us past Wisley Royal Horticultural Society and some majestic trees on our right. A distant roar growing steadily louder wasn’t the ‘falls of death’ as Simon joked, but the M25 again, which we soon passed into open fields once more for a couple of miles before the next weir.
The next weir appeared to be on private land next to a impressive mill house surrounded by paddocks and horses, so we asked permission to portage below the weir through a very muddy field with two exceptionally friendly horses, who thankfully became a bit less friendly and gave us some space once we had our luminous plastic horse frighteners on our shoulders. We waded down through a sea of mud and horse poo to put on again to the narrower and faster flowing Wey toward Brooklands. We passed an unknown town followed by a shiny green high-tech office park before a sign on a bridge announced Brooklands Motor Museum and on the right saw the distinctive shape of a Concorde airliner and a less glamourous Russian looking transport plane.
No sooner than we’d entered we were leaving Brooklands under a railway bridge with glimpses of the remains of the steep banking on the right. More fields followed for a mile or two until we returned to Surrey suburbia with riverside houses on the right that David rated as ‘surprisingly ordinary looking’, but the rest of us wouldn’t have refused. The houses got more and more dense as we came under a bridge into the Wey Navigation pool where we portaged again, a bit tired by now, for the last mile and a half back up the navigation to the get out. On the way (no pun intended), we passed a couple of huge, tall warehouses on the right, relics of when the Wey was an important trading link between London and Guildford. Next to the warehouse was an enticing looking chute, but we were all a bit tired and cold and didn’t want a chance of getting wet. Two passing members of Addlestone canoe club in an open boat stopped for a chat, advising us that the chute was perfectly safe and they’d even take their open boat down there, but we still demurred, wanting to get home in the failing light.
The last half mile took us past Addlestone canoe club where we chatted a little more to our new friends, before continuing to the get out. A very pleasant day.