Well - come rain or shine we were off this weekend... rain it did, but, there was a lot of shine too - and it was warm too - took my jeans in case i got cold in the evening, but spent the whole weekend in my shorts...
There was a lot of packing and planning and use of new stuff that we were able to purchase with the wedding present contributions… The blue barrels we picked up the other weekend down in Symonds Yat, which were a total find as they fit perfectly in the middle of the canoe!
Started in Tonbridge with a "car recovery", Rob & car parked at Allington and canoe & myself left at Tonbridge with a taxi connecting the two! There was a very nice man at the start who kindly pointed me in the correct direction. You can’t really see from the photos but there wasn’t really a current to the river at all, we would have looked pretty stupid going the wrong way so I thought it best to ask!!
The river has had some major renovations in the last few years to fit the canoe / fish pass, which means you can go down around the lock without having to portage the canoe – this bodes well for us because we had a whole bunch of stuff with us.
The canoe pass’ were the most fun!! Little nerve racking, but overall, a little like a log flume. They of course look bigger when you are eye level with them; the photos don’t do it justice!
We stopped for lunch at Eldridges Lock (unfortunately the map doesn’t show the whole trail… can’t find a full map).
What we should have done was stay at Oakweir Lock – which would have been very nice (see photos of the really fun canoe pass!) – but we decided to press on because we didn’t want too much to do on the second day.
The plan was to stay at Stoneham Lock – which is disused – but it looked awful, and there were a few bottles about, the grass wasn’t cut, graffiti about etc – so I wasn’t that happy staying there. The options were paddle back to Oakweir lock (involving 2 portage up the locks we’d passed) or head one much much further down to Burmbridge camp site. Which is off the map. A long way!! We did that though and it worked out well as the campsite was nice (very quiet, just two other people) and we had a nice dinner, few beers, then a great sleep as we were so tired! Dinner was a very tasty orange, lemon & ginger chicken!
This was the Hogwarts Express. Bit random.
We both woke up really early (didn't know it was that early as neither of us took any sort of time keeping device (later realised my camera has a clock on it)) but at 6:30am we had breakfast, but waiting for the rain to subside and then leave (which ended up being about 9am).
Saw some very cute signets, didn't want to get too close...
Very nice house on the river!
Allington Lock - which was the finishing point... we ended up finishing around 12, so just in time for lunch in the pub! :-)
Can't work out why we are upsidedown, or how to turn this around without editing the original photo...
And of course, the weekend can't finish without a mention of the rain. It was actually very nice - the rain did not put us off at all - and apparently the river is quite busy, so it was nice that i think the rain kept people away! We both had wellies / waterproof trouser & waterproof jackets and whilst it did rain a lot, it was actually really really nice - very peaceful out in the rain by ourselves!!
So - our first proper trip in the canoe and all in all a great success. We were missing only one thing.. good coffee in the morning - not sure how we forgot that... :-)