2 Star trip on the Medway - 29 September 2012
A group decided to fit in a sneaky last paddle before the sun disappeared for good.
The River Medway has a “canoe trail” http://www.medwaycanoetrail.co.uk/ and Sarah had played there before and so it was suggested as one of the places that would be good for a first canoe trip for some of our keen club members. Luckily Kent Canoes were in the area and could rent us boats from Hampstead Lock so we all met up there where there is parking and the touring holy grail: public loos for changing.
As we were doing a there and back, the plan was to paddle uphill on the way there and downhill on the way back - this meant that we got to portage and check out all of the purpose built canoe passes on the way up, ready to play on the way back.
After some discussion and different variations on the straight line the group started to get the hang of the paddling thing and the volume started to rise as the less experienced members of the group moved from conscious into unconscious paddling and the chatting started.
The sun shone and regular stops were needed so that Hannah and Shep could eat blackberries from the bushes on the edge of the river - we decided it must be time for lunch as their stops became more frequent.
Marguerite identified that it was turnaround time and we spent lunch at porters lock. As we sat digesting we were lucky enough to witness a party of canoes using the canoe pass and show us how it should be done. After a quick check of the depth of the pass (for the safety of the pakboat) it was time for the off and the first of 3 passes was safely behind us.
There were a few fishermen in place but they were easily avoided in the main. It would be great if they wore bright clothes and line was coloured but then what would be the fun in that.
On the third canoe pass, the water was a little pushier at the bottom and one boat almost disposed of its paddlers. Luckily they managed to keep it upright but it still needed a visit to shore to empty out some of the water taken on. No doubt in the car home Phil and Alison had some discussion on whose fault that was!
On the way home the nerfs were released, with the group enjoying throwing in to the water near a fellow paddler - so that they got soaked. Put some adults on a sunny day in boats and we all revert to being 10 again!
All too soon we were back at the top of Hampstead lock, paddling past Teapot Island towards the end of the trip. As we had passed the Kent Canoes group on the way home we knew we had time to spare before getting off the water and so we paddled on towards Yalding. No one was up for more portaging so we called it a day as soon as we found another lock.
That was the end of the summer!
Mark's photos and videos: https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=f75030d2570072b4&id=F75030D2570072B4%21209