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Posts Tagged river thames

A visit to the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta

Today we went to watch some of the beautiful tall ships arriving for the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta at Woolwich Arsenal – it’s always a pleasure to see so many large sailboats moored up together. We also took another walk under the Thames using the Woolwich foot tunnel.

Oru Kayak Adventures: Windsor to Hampton Court

I took advantage of a day’s leave and perfect winter weather to head off with my Oru folding kayak on the train to Windsor and Eton riverside station from where I kayaked down the river Thames to Hampton Court. Conditions were absolutely perfect for a winter paddle with a beautiful winter sun, virtually no wind and gentle current. Conditions were just below freezing – any spray from the paddle froze on contact with the deck for the first few hours of the trip. I was treated to a spectacular sunrise and some beautiful updrafts in the misty fog that covered some parts of the river. A truly wonderful paddle.

Start Point: Romney Lock (for Windsor & Eton Riverside Railway Station)
Portages: Old Windsor Lock, Bell Wier Lock, Penton Hook Lock, Chertsey Lock, Shepperton Lock, Sunbury Lock
End Point: Molesey Lock (for Thames Ditton Railway Station)

Oru Kayak Adventures: Appletree Eyeot to Bourne End

After a very comfortable night’s sleep I broke camp and set off at around 07:00 into central Reading. The first lock of the day was Caversham lock which was very easy to portage around. The next point of interest was the entrance to the Kennet and Avon Canal which had a inner city waterway look about it. Continuing downstream the large Oracle campus could be seen on the starboard side – a familiar sight from many train journeys through Reading.

I stopped for lunch at the Angel On The Bridge in Henley-on-Thames (taking my boat out of the water at the small public wharf next to the pub) before paddling through the rowing course along Henley Reach and on towards Marlow.

I finished the day’s paddling near Bourne End where I set up a very rudimentary camp on the bank of the river. The further downstream I got the more difficult it was to find suitable places to stop for the night. Next to the bank was a busy footpath. As the light faded I was caught in a short rain shower so was glad of having my Basha sheet.

Oru Kayak Adventures: Day’s Lock to Appletree Eyeot

I set off from Day’s Lock at around 6am with the aim of finishing the day close to Reading. Wallingford looked to be a beautiful settlement. I took lunch at the Swan at Streatley feeling rather under-dressed. The food was rather up-market and fancifully named but of good quality and both the staff and clientele very friendly.

I decided to stop for the night on Appletree Eyot. The distance for the day was 32Km.

Oru Kayak Adventures: Oxford to Day’s Lock

After waiting for rush hour to finish, I headed off on the train to London Victoria station from where I hailed a black cab which took me over to Paddington. At Paddington, I picked up a rather busy GWR train to Oxford. I arrived into Oxford in the early afternoon and after a short detour following a wrong turning I promptly headed down to East Street to start the next leg of my journey along the River Thames. I assembled my kayak and set off from exactly the same spot from where I finished my Cricklade to Oxford trip three months earlier.

I stopped of lunch and a soft drink at the King Arms in Sandford-upon-Thames before continuing downstream.

The day had a light rain finish as I bedded down (wrapped in my Basha) for the night near Day’s Lock. The total distance for the day was 28Km.

London Kayakathon 2015

On Sunday I took part in the 2015 Reed London Kayakathon. The 26.2 mile challenge started and ended at Shadwell Basin and involved paddling the 26.2 mile return trip to Chiswick Bridge.  This was a great opportunity to safely paddle through the center of London (passing Tower Bridge, The Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, The London Eye, The Houses of Parliament and Battersea power station) which is an exhilarating paddle with the tide and wash from passenger boats creating a complex state. About 80 paddlers took part in this very well organised event – it would be great to see this event grow in future years.

This trip was part of my plan to kayak the full length of the navigable Thames in weekend-sized trips during spring/summer 2015.

The charity I am supporting is “Thames Reach“. Thames Reach supports homeless, vulnerable and isolated men and women through a range of services, activities and accommodation projects.

Please consider sponsoring me via Just Giving.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

River Thames Source-to-Sea Kayak Challenge

I have decided to kayak the full length of the navigable Thames in weekend-sized trips during spring/summer 2015. This will include the 42 Km Kayakathon through the center of London tomorrow. I’ll also walk from the source near Kemble to Cricklade which is not navigable. The total distance will be around 350 Km.

The charity I am supporting is “Thames Reach“. Thames Reach supports homeless, vulnerable and isolated men and women through a range of services, activities and accommodation projects.

Please consider sponsoring me via Just Giving.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Oru Kayak Adventures: Shifford Lock to Oxford

On Sunday I completed the second leg of my Oru folding kayak trip between Cricklade and Oxford. This trip is part of a series of weekend trips with the aim of paddling the entire length of the Thames during 2015.

At the end of my overnight stop at Shifford Lock I watched a beautiful sunrise before packing up my kit and setting off downstream towards Oxford. I got underway at 06:10 – the wind was forecast to pick up considerably so I thought I’d  get the distance covered as early as possible.

After about 3 Km I reached Newbridge and after another similar distance I reached my first portage of the day at Northmoor Lock. The next section of the river took me past Bablock Hythe and Farmoor Reservoir before arriving at Pinkhill Lock which was swiftly followed by Swinford Toll Bridge and Eynsham Lock. The next portage was at King’s Lock which also marked a marked change in the path of the river towards the South East and to Oxford. I really enjoyed the paddle into Oxford, especially after Godstow Lock which was the final lock for the day. I finished my trip to the Southside of Osney Bridge (on East Street) which is convenient two minutes from the Oxford railway station. After washing down my kit, I packed up and caught the 12:12 Great Western service back to London Paddington. I arrived back in south Norwood at about 15:00 after a fantastic two days paddle and approximately a distance of 65Km.

Oru Kayak Adventures: Cricklade to Shifford Lock

On Saturday I headed off to Cricklade in Wiltshire to kayak the furthest upstream navigable part of the Thames. This would be my first overnight trip using my “Oru” kayak. I thought this time of year would be a good time to do this stretch of the river as the fishing season is closed and the Swans are yet to produce offspring! The flow rates on the river were also acceptable.

My journey started in South Norwood at 6am from where I took a Southern service to London Bridge followed by the Tube to London Paddington and then a Great Western train to Swindon. Transporting my folders Oru kayak and 2 x 20L dry bags was not problematic on any of the services that I used and my Oru fits perfectly in the normal luggage racks on the GWH service. The last part of my journey involved getting a bus from Swindon out to Cricklade. On arrival at Cricklade I headed down to the Thames which at this point is a very small stream and feels a million miles a way from the river that flows through London.

After constructing my kayak and double-checking everything was in order, I got underway at around 11am. This first stretch of the Thames is truly beautiful as it dances its way through the countryside. There were lots of partial blockages (including low branches – you certainly wouldn’t want to try to attempt this section during flooding) and quite a few pairs of Swans preparing to nest. The disused Thames and Severn Canal is never too far away and joins the Thames at Inglesham which I passed just before arriving at Lechlade where I stopped for lunch at the Riverside Pub. This popular pub has a fantastic riverside garden.

On leaving Lechlade I paddled under the famous Ha’penny bridge before arriving at St Johns Lock where I needed to complete my first portage. All of the portages required on this stretch of the river were fine although some could be made more friendly for Canoes and Kayaks (E.g. signage and/or specific lowered entry/exit points). St Johns was followed by Buscot, Grafton, Radcot and Rushey Locks before I reached Shifford Lock where the fading light meant I must stop for the evening. I slept next to my kayak in my sleeping system (sleeping mat + cold weather bag + Goretex bivy) which fits nicely in a 20L dry bag that stores in the rear of the vessel. The night was cold but very beautiful – a great view of the stars followed by moonshine. I didn’t sleep that well as it always takes me a few nights to climatise to sleeping outside but I didn’t mind too much after a fantastic day out on the Thames.

 

Jonathan Tolhurst

About Jonathan Tolhurst

Based in London, my interests include photography, kayaking, paddle boarding, electric unicycling, teepees, robotics, programming, databases, informatics and pharmacy.

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Jonathan Tolhurst