• This topic has 34 replies, 17 voices, and was last updated 5 days ago by Anna-B.
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  • Anyone kayak upper Thames – Marlow, Cookham etc, after advice.
  • Premier Icon Anna-B
    Free Member

    I’m planning a first time Thames kayak for a small group. Current plan to park cars and put kayaks in at Marlow. Going upstream there are locks at Temple and Hurley – just want to check they are portage-able? I have googled and I think they are, but would like to double check this and how easy it is.

    The other option is to park and put in at Cookham, is it possible to portage the weir at Marlow?

    If anyone is familiar with the above, does my plan make sense or is there another upper thames route I should look at that has convenient parking, slip way, straightforward to paddle upstream etc.

    Premier Icon Bruce
    Free Member

    Might be worth a look on the canoe england website or ukriversguidebook.
    The both have useful planning information
    I don’t know the Thames but as they do the devises to Westminster race all the locks and weirs should be portageble.
    It’s normal to paddle down stream but if there are lock there may be little flow.

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Full Member

    I think they are all portageable, because it’s a navigation, and so there are locks and therefore a means of stopping and getting your boats out.

    I don’t specifically know Temple but I used to paddle a lot at Hurley weir and know that you can portage around that very easily.

    Google maps and google images are good for checking.

    Temple Lock

    Used to have some good beatings at Hurley!

    See that bit on river-right? You can paddle right down there and get past the weir to portage.

    Premier Icon kormoran
    Free Member

    I have kayaked the entire Thames, from source to sea, in one continuous trip. Every lock and weir is portageable, there are often kayak friendly facilities where you can get out easily. At some locks there are kayak shoots but you can choose not to go down them, it’s no problem. If you have a licence you can be locked through, personally I would not do that with a group who were inexperienced though, and especially not on a day when you might be sharing with large vessels

    Premier Icon Anna-B
    Free Member

    Thanks so much all, really helpful. @kormoran great trip! how long did that take?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    I don’t know the Thames but as they do the devises to Westminster race all the locks and weirs should be portageble.

    That sounds great can I enter or do you need to be hardcore/highly experienced?

    I have kayaked the entire Thames, from source to sea

    That too, I’d enjoy working up to that. Is there a guide or something?


    @SaxonRider
    ^^^

    Premier Icon kormoran
    Free Member

    @Anna-B I think it was a week from source to the tidal lock at Teddington, then another 5 days down the tidal section, through the city then out along the coast to the head of the River Blackwater estuary where we finished at a friend’s house. So about 12 days total IIRC. It was brilliant to be honest, one of the best trips I have done.

    Premier Icon kormoran
    Free Member

    I have kayaked the entire Thames, from source to sea

    That too, I’d enjoy working up to that. Is there a guide or something?

    Yeah, there is a lot of info on the web – especially song of the paddle. Not many do the whole trip but it’s easy enough to piece together all the relevant sections. The section from Teddington to the Thames barrier is quite intense, there is a lot to think about – very fast tidal flows, very fast traffic and lots of obstructions but the Port of London Authority has all the info you need on it’s website. There is a history of kayaking on the Thames so it is viewed positively, you just need to know the rules.

    Premier Icon Anna-B
    Free Member

    Sounds amazing @kormoran! I was getting into kayak-camping before the pandemic, and even just those one nights felt like epic adventures 😀

    Premier Icon fenlander
    Free Member

    You can inspect most of them on streetview.

    Temple and Hurley are straightfoward. Marlow lock (rather than the mill stream) can be quite a reach up at the downstream side if the river is low, which can be “fun” for beginners.

    It has been a while, and you don’t say what type of kayaks, but parking at The Flower Pot, going downstream as far as you like, then back up to Hambleden and playing in the weir (if in placcy boats) and then back for drink / dinner is quite a nice way to do it.

    And it isn’t really “upper Thames” until you are upstream of Goring!

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    The section from Teddington to the Thames barrier is quite intense

    I could happily skip that bit tbh. Wonder if I could bring my inflatable and hop out in London and get the train home.

    Premier Icon Anna-B
    Free Member

    Google images and street view is a good shout.

    There will be 4 sea kayaks and 1 double SoT, the group is from relatively to very experienced.

    My preference is to go upstream first and then downstream on the way back, when more tired.
    I was thinking the non tidal part as being upper Thames, so thank you @Fenlander 🙂

    Premier Icon Kelliesheros
    Free Member

    This is my local stretch of river. As mentioned above, all the locks are portageable.

    You haven’t mentioned whether you are planning on doing a out and back or a shuttle. This time of year paddling upstream is going to be harder than you think.

    A really nice trip (imho) is to get on at Aston (the old ferry point near the flowerpot pub) and float paddle down to marlow. Takes you past medmenham, Hurley, temple and then into marlow. Lock your boats up at higginson park and catch a taxi back to aston.

    Marlow to cookham is nice (better to stop at bourne end at the bounty) I wouldn’t want to paddle upstream that route at any time of year.

    Premier Icon Anna-B
    Free Member

    ok interesting ref not going upstream. The plan is an out and back, upstream first then downstream for the return leg. Aiming for early April, but from what you’re saying @kelliesheros that won’t make much difference. I hadn’t considered the downstream flow as being any stronger than I am used to, so thanks for that and the route suggestion.

    Premier Icon kormoran
    Free Member

    The section from Teddington to the Thames barrier is quite intense

    I could happily skip that bit tbh. Wonder if I could bring my inflatable and hop out in London and get the train home.

    Yeah an inflatable would be ok above Teddington, in fact we met a guy who was trying to paddle most of the river in one on our way down. To be fair it was more like a seaside inflatable but he was doing pretty well all things considered

    Sounds amazing  @kormoran! I was getting into kayak-camping before the pandemic, and even just those one nights felt like epic adventures

    There are camping facilities at a lot of the locks, basic but perfect for kayaking. We ‘wild’ camped a few nights, no bother with a bit of thought and planning. It does get harder the closer you get to London, but it is doable

    Premier Icon Kelliesheros
    Free Member

    Paddling upstream is not impossible, I see you have sea kayaks, if you can paddle efficiently then you will be fine. Oh and April can have as big a flows as the winter.

    My comment about going cookham to marlow, is more about the fact that it is the windiest section (hence why there is a big sailing club there) and it is normally blowing downstream. Plus cookham to bourne end is very dull.

    If you are looking for a circular route (start and stop in the same place) then can I suggest looking at the henerton backwater and st Patrick’s stream near shiplake. One of my favourite summer paddles / floats. Much more enjoyable than slogging upstream.

    Premier Icon lorax
    Full Member

    Paddle the Thames by Mark Rainsley has all the info you need!
    https://www.pesdapress.com/pdfs/Paddle%20the%20Thames%20Sample.pdf

    It’s probably fine now, but the lock campsites have all been closed throughout covid, so if you’re considering that it would be worth calling them to check. I wild camped upstream from Oxford last September – it was wonderfully peaceful.

    Premier Icon jam-bo
    Full Member

    Re the DW race, I’ve not done it but I know a few who have. It’s not easy…

    http://www.dwrace.co.uk

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    There are lots of operators who will do you a drop off for a down steam paddle in their rental boats

    Might be worth a google and a phone call to see if they will provide a shuttle for a few quid

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Is there a guide or something?

    Courtesy of Mr Nofaff himself…

    https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Paddle-the-Thames-by-Mark-Rainsley/9781906095598

    Premier Icon asbrooks
    Full Member

    In a past life, in my late teens/early twenties (now in my mid 50s) I’d taken part in the DW several times during that time. For me, by the time I got to Marlow it had become a bit like a of war off attrition. Catch the tidal flow wrong it becomes a real slog. Funnily enough I can’t remember too much about it now. Wiped it from my memory.

    For some it’s quite addictive, my Brother now in his early 50s has continued to do it most years since our 20s. He’s pulled out more times than he has finished, he didn’t finish the 2019 race and was planning to take part in the 2020 race before the lockdown got us.

    All I have to offer is, if you want to challenge yourself then do it. I wish you luck..

    Premier Icon Anna-B
    Free Member

    Did a fantastic Thames kayak today, route based on suggestions posted here. Parked at the end of ferry lane near the flower pot at Aston village, upstream through Henley, and on to the hennerton backwater. Great tip from kelliesheroes. Along that and back onto the main river and return leg downstream. 12 miles and two swims! Worked so well. Thanks all for your input, really helped me plan a great day out on the water. 😊

    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Full Member

    Yeah, there is a lot of info on the web – especially song of the paddle.

    Some sound advice in this thread, but for canoe touring songofthepaddle.co.uk is the best site to ask on.

    Premier Icon Kelliesheros
    Free Member

    Nice day for it, no wind sunshine and the flow is low at the moment. The Thames looked lovely as I sat next to it having a pint in cookham.

    I hope you had a drink at the flowerpot!

    Premier Icon tonyd
    Free Member

    Interesting thread! I live not far from Swinley so close to most of the above. A bunch of us did a 2 day dads and kids canoe trip a few years ago, with an overnight camp. For some reason we went all the way to Bedford and paddled the Ouse, was lovely and we’ve been talking about doing another one for ages.

    There are lots of operators who will do you a drop off for a down steam paddle in their rental boats

    Anyone got any recommendations? Ideally a two day paddle with an overnight camp, would probably need 5 canoes with three in each (one adult, 2 kids from 7-12 years old).

    Premier Icon jimfrandisco
    Free Member

    If you have a licence you can be locked through

    Just to follow up on something said above. You do need a licence on the Thames. I’ve never been asked to show it in the last 10plus years of paddling about, but been hearing that the sudden influx of paddleboards on the river is leading to increased checks, particularly around locks in the more popular areas downstream.

    If not already, just join the british canoeing and you’ll get licence and insurance.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    Anyone got any recommendations?

    I would love this too. I want to do relaxed wandering downstream on super safe water in my inflatable, so definitely interested especially if there are public transport options since my boat can be carried.

    Premier Icon tonyd
    Free Member

    I want to do relaxed wandering downstream on super safe water in my inflatable, so definitely interested especially if there are public transport options since my boat can be carried.

    I don’t know about the river conditions etc, but there are plenty of public transport options, for example (choosing these as they are crossing points I use for road rides) Goring, Pangbourne, Henley, Marlow, Cookham all have train stations and nice pubs. A friend of mine has almost finished canoeing the Thames from source to sea with his boys over many weekends, they have a decathlon inflatable canoe and have been taking the train early saturday morning, paddle, wild camp, paddle and then train home sunday evening. They’ve had some great adventures.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    I was considering the local river Rhymney because it runs within about 200m of our house, however I had a bit of a recce on my bike today and I’d be surprised if it’s 6″ deep (150mm) currently!

    A friend of mine has almost finished canoeing the Thames from source to sea with his boys over many weekends, they have a decathlon inflatable canoe and have been taking the train early saturday morning, paddle, wild camp, paddle and then train home sunday evening. They’ve had some great adventures.

    That sounds fab, I wish my kids could be inspired to do stuff like that.

    Premier Icon tonyd
    Free Member

    That sounds fab, I wish my kids could be inspired to do stuff like that

    He’s kiwi, I’m not sure the kids got a choice 😀

    Premier Icon Anna-B
    Free Member

    It was fantastic @Kelliesheroes. As you say, not even a breeze, beautiful sun and almost zero current that I could detect. The two swim dips felt really safe as a result. Had a swim at the end of ferry lane once back, and absolutely knackered so no drink. Such a lovely spot though 😊 thanks for the tips.

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    @molgrips what boat have you got? I keep nearly buying into the inflatable kayak thing. Flat water like the Thames is something my wife and I would both enjoy. She funds it hard to get excited about walking as that’s how she earns her living

    Premier Icon Markie
    Full Member

    Mrs Markie and a friend did the DW (and set their age group womens record!) four or five months after taking up canoeing (well, they took it up just to do the race). They both had a strong fitness base and trained hard. 22 hours of racing and then a week of recovery! She recommends it highly!

    Premier Icon TheGingerOne
    Full Member

    Nothing to add, but still can’t stop laughing at Marlow being called the Upper Thames 🤣

    sorry 😀

    Premier Icon Anna-B
    Free Member

    Don’t apologise. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

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