UK Autumn Paddle Weekend

Nick Dennis

Over the last weekend of Octobers members of the UK Chapter met up for a weekend of great paddling, good company, food and fun on the River Thames and its backwaters in Oxfordshire. WCHA member Delia Etherington and her family hosted us for the weekend at Bolney Ferry Boathouse.

I arrived on the Friday along with Sam Browning and Alick Burt and with the autumnal weather and colours calling we had a late afternoon paddle up the Hennerton Backwater to the pub...of course.



It was a glorious evening paddle with us all still in shirtsleeves.

On returning to the boathouse the Bower family had arrived so the evening was spent around the campfire with a fish and chip supper based down by beer and a nice Jura single malt.

The planned paddles for the Saturday and Sunday were from Caversham (upstream) taking in the main Thames but also the backwaters of St Patricks Stream and the Hennerton Backwater finishing at the boathouse; the Sunday was downstream starting at the Boathouse and finishing at Ferry Lane Aston downstream of Hambledon Weir and Lock.Both would involve a degree of faffing and a car shuttle but this would allow us to paddle with the flow on both days as recent rains had increased the water flow.

With gear sorted for the morning we all retired to our tents. Of corse a kettle was always on the go for tea!

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On the Saturday we were joined by Andy Gulland, John Beresford and David Millward who drove up from the south coast for the day.

We eventually managed to get the whole flotilla shuttled to the start and again in great autumnal conditions, we paddled with the flow backwards the Boathouse.




St Patricks Stream was flowing very swiftly and as you enter the top of the stream you know that this is the point of no return as the current grabs the canoe and pulls it where the river wats it to go. The challenge is to avoid being swept into the central reed bed and the overhanging willows.



Having negotiated the winding stream and the River Lodden the law states that you have to stop at the pub;; so we did and enjoyed beer in the sunshine



Leaving the pub we managed to get back to the Boathouse for afternoon tea and cakes to celebrate Susie's 8oth birthday. This was followed by a communal supper of sausages, cabbage wine, beer and more cake. The day paddlers then departed.

The Sunday started as a rather drab day punctuated by showers but we managed a nice downstream paddle through Henley (negotiating the rowing regatta) via Temple Island finishing a short way below Hambledon.

We were all back at the Boathouse for mid afternoon and having had more tea and cake, tents were struck and we all made our way home. Another successful WCHA weekend.

We are already planning for 2023 which will take in the Norfolk Broads and the Thames. Of course I will try and organise a "Frostbiter" paddle around Christmas/New Year.

Thanks for coming on the journey with us!

A great weekend, thanks for organising.. . . . and you even managed to sort the weather for us!