Two Kingfishers and a New river to explore!

Another Lovely day on the river Thames. Whilst the club went in the direction of Putney Julius and I headed in the opposite direction with goal of reaching Richmond.

An easy paddle out with the tide, so were paddling towards the Surrey Bank to keep out of the way of the Rowers. We very quickly made Chiswick Bridge and recrossed to the Middlesex side. In passing under Chiswick Bridge we had a nice conversation with a lady rower about to set out. It was a short conversation as the tide carried us under Chiswick Bridge where I had to check my echo was still there!

Paddling on we passed Belinda, who declined our invitation to paddle as she was set up to paddle with strand on the green team. Never mind, we headed on. We were passed by a group of sea kayakers just before Kew Bridge who then pulled into Edge Club, no one we recognised so we paddled on.

Just after the entrance to the Grand Union Canal we met Chris who expressed interest in canoeing and didn’t realise it was possible on this stretch of the Thames. It was just here that we saw our first Kingfisher of the day. An electric bolt of blue as it flashed by overhead, an amazing sight and for Julius the first he had ever seen one the Thames.

We were further witness to an amazing site of groups of fish gathering and basking in the warm conditions. Question do Fish Bask? On to Isleworth Ait and a quick rehydration (bottle of water) and a stretch of legs. Plenty of swans about preening themselves. We took the inside passage although slightly longer is far more interesting to paddle.

I had previously come unstuck taking this route, but on a rising tide I thought we’d be OK. Lovely section of the river to paddle. It was at this stage I asked Julius if he had paddled the river Crane? With no time like the present we just had to do it.

With a little concern that the automatic gates (see my notes below) would close and lock us in we headed into the river. We met lots of lovely people who advised us we wouldn’t get far and they were right. It was at this point that Julius saw his second Kingfisher, sadly I missed this one as I was talking to one of the house owners. The river quite quickly shallowed out. Although I did consider Poling it would have left Julius to walk through ankle deep water. Accepting defeat we headed back and exited out in to the main river.

Quickly passing through Richmond half lock we decided that was far enough for the day. We could have gone further, but the thought of fish and chips on the river bank was too good an opportunity to miss – saved me cooking an evening meal.

Note on Access to the River Crane

River is navigable water approx 1-1.5hrs either side of high tide.

Important information. The automatic gates operate close on high tides. On big high tides your priority is to pass under the second bridge about 45 mins before large high tides. You don’t want to be trapped under it!

The River Crane fills and empties extremely speedily.

After our improvised lunch and meeting groups from the various kayak and stand up boarding people I hoisted a sail. A very nice gentleman helped launch me and we were away on our return trip to the Pier House.

We did venture into the River Crane again where it had a little more water in it. This allowed us to travel an extra couple of 100m before the lack of water forced us to return to the main part of the Thames.

Lovely people on the Crane, it like paddling through people’s back gardens. We were told that the king fishers and at the right time bats fly can regularly be seen on the stretch.

After the excitement of actually paddling a new river it was time to return to base. It was a straightforward sail back in the old canoe, whilst Julius had to paddle his kayak. Don’t think it was too bad as we were travelling with the tide, so made for an easy transit.

So ends another exiting Sunday paddle.

Lets see what the next Sunday paddle brings.