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.
A few photographs from the end of August and September. I have had an amazing couple of months in the teepee, although I have been busy during the weekends with one thing or another. I only plan to spend a few more weeks in the teepee before I’ll hopefully be heading into the big smoke – it’s certainly going to be a bit of a shock to the system!
Here are a few more photographs of my beautiful teepee home at an undisclosed location in rural Wiltshire. I’m now five months into my teepee living project with only six weeks left until I move back in to a more conventional home.
Photographs from my 2011 tipi (teepee) living project - my attempt to spend the summer living in a tipi with no electricity at an undisclosed location in rural Wiltshire.
Photographs taken during the realization of my Soux tipi project.
Photographs from north of the border, the last few taken during May 2011 where I spent some time up in the Scottish Highlands where I am spending a week on holiday.
This weekend I was confined to Wiltshire due to the weather – this is the second cold spell we have had here in December – I can’t actually remember the last time it snowed like this so early on in winter? Avebury looked beautiful!
Today I headed out to Bradford-On-Avon to visit my Australian friend Sarah and her family. The journey took a little longer than expected due to the weekly national ‘dig up the railways’ day which meant getting on a replacement bus service. Arriving in to Bradford-on-Avon the town was at a standstill whilst the roads were shut for the remembrance procession. Rain meant that the conditions were not exactly ideal for photography but I had a wander around the town and took a couple of pictures inside the Saxon church. Bradford-on-Avon is a very beautiful little town (although not exactly designed with cars in mind). I headed back to Swindon in the evening after what felt like far too much food.
After spending my Saturday morning at work working on transferring patient demographics on to the new oncology system I took the bus over to the market town of Marlborough. Marlborough is famous for being the seat of the Duke of Marlborough and the private school which shares its name. Historically Marlborough made its name as a Stagecoach stop on the route West from London. The town is busy and it is immediately obvious there is a lot of affluent people in town, in complete contrast to Swindon. I had a quick look around the rather over priced shops before returning to Swindon in the evening.
Today I took a twenty five kilometre circular walk to the hill fort at Barbury Castle. I managed an average speed of 5.9km/hour. I had great fun setting up some self portraits using the timer on my camera – much to the amusement of other visitors nearby.
This weekend I took a trip to the Wiltshire town of Devizes to check out the flight of locks at Caen Hill. Altogether there are 29 locks which take the Kennet and Avon canal up a steep hill in to Devizes. The engineering is quite remarkable and there were plenty of people enjoying the fully restored system.
This week I have been finishing work on the Swindon Town Gardens Bowls Club Website. I have built the site as part of my voluntary community services project – this is my first Swindon based project. The site is built around WordPress and utilises several of the opensource plugins including the excellent Next GEN gallery which I have also started using on my own Blog. If you would like to check it out the website address is www.swindontgbc.co.uk
Click here to visit the Swindon Town Gardens Bowls Club Website