Another in the series of a slower paddle from Chiswick to where ever we get to!
Flooding tide with high tide around the 1pm mark
Coach Steve Canoe
Paddlers Mick Kayak and MJ Canoe
Start time circa 10:30
On the day Chiswick Pier had a couple of groups heading out, so Coach Steve’s team waited until they were clear of the pontoon area before heading down. We waited on the bridge, even then it was a great opportunity to view the river and get an idea of who was on the water and what space they were occupying. Those coming from Hammersmith were heading in the centre of the river whilst those heading in the opposite direction towards Hammersmith Bridge were keeping within there slotted lanes.
Confusing when you start but after a few sessions you start to understand our local navigation rules.
With Mick kitted out it was just the late arriving MJ we were waiting for. Once MJ arrived it was all go, canoes were lowered into position. Mick rather fancied a different boat so the Wavesport Ethos was adjusted to fit his frame and we were good to go.
MJ was put on the water with Mick to follow with instructions to MJ to hold at the far end of the historic boats which she did. So in the lovely big eddy there, it was a chance for Mick experiment with this completely different boat.
As Mick found out is was a little more lively than his previous boat, but nothing he couldn’t handle. With the skeg down, we three headed out to across the mighty river Thames. First Coach Steve checked there wasn’t any traffic which could affect us and over we paddled.
We kept to the far side (Surrey side) where any traffic over taking us would appear on our right hand side. Bonus was we were off the rowers racing line so those pesky rowers wouldn’t cause us an issue. We had a couple of hours before high tide, so there was plenty of water for us have a relaxed to paddle to Kew Bridge.
As we made progress and mostly because we’re weren’t in a hurry, we could see all the birds and their fledglings either on the foreshore or in the flow. You could almost hear the young birds shouting mommy as they rushed after their mum.
As we headed towards Chiswick Bridge it was time to cross the river and keep out of the way of the rowers, which I have to say there were very few about. We crossed the river just short of Chiswick Bridge and proceeded down the Middlesex bank. We did check our echo was still in place and no one had stolen it since last week…well coach Steve did.
It was lovely weather, the sun was shinning and then all of a sudden we had a cavalcade of motor cruisers pass us with the PLA boat in the lead. Coach Steve instructed Mick to turn around and head into the waves they created. So Mick and Steve had a Bouncy time whilst the cruisers passed us by. It then started to rain, warm rain, but still rain.
MJ immediately donned head gear to ward off the errant droplets. MJ doesn’t go out in the rain, so this was a bit of a shock for her, but we carried on paddling.
We paddled on at our leisurely pace and arrived beside Kew Bridge where the rain had stopped. As the river hadn’t reached high tide, coach Steve decided we could go a little further. This gave Mick a chance to view parts of the river he had cycle passed, but now could view from the river.
On we paddled passed Brentford lower and upper ait, until popping out into the main stream beside the entrance to the Brentford lock and access to the grand union canal. It’s funny how you meet people, but as we paddled up to the entrance to the canal a narrow boat hailed us asking if they were in the right place as they had booked a slot with the lock keeper.
We thought they were in the right place, but they called it by a name Coach Steve didn’t recognise. All seemed to be well as we followed them turning right before the lock and heading into the MSO boat works area, whilst the narrow boat carried straight on.
We did meet some fellow kayakers who had coffee and treats with them. I should have asked where they had got them from..!
We followed the river around to the MSO marine works ending up on the edge of the canal, but as we were at about the same water level there was no flow. Both MJ and Mick were curious about the shape of the building there with its overhang. It was designed in an age where goods would have been unloaded from barges. The overhang protected the goods from the elements.
With little more to see we turned around and headed back on to the main part of the Thames. High tide had just about been reached and the river was starting to ebb. MJ wanted to paddle the opposite side of the ait’s at Brentford so we did.
Continuing along we passed under Kew Bridge and into the launch area for the paddle board centre there. Having pulled Mick and MJ from their respective boats it was time to stretch our legs rehydrate with what we had brought with us, before the relaxing paddle back to the club.
Whilst beside Kew Bridge various paddle boarders arrived, but we had kept our boats out of the way so as not to unconvinced the them, so there wasn’t an issue.
With legs rested and suitably rehydrated with what we had brought with us, it was time to head back. Coach Steve launch MJ and Mick and then headed out after them. We paddled along the Middlesex side of the river as coach Steve wanted to view a boat moored on the PLA boat stand. This is used when a boat is in trouble and is in danger of sinking. Coach Steve had noticed on out way out there was a survival raft alongside the moored narrow boat. With the tide falling coach Steve wondered if the narrow boat had bottomed out on the supporting rafters? As the tide was still quite high it looked like it was still floating, which was a good thing.
On we paddled, as Mick was faster than MJ and coach Steve he was instructed to go ahead and wait before Chiswick Bridge whist we made progress to reach him. As we rejoined as a group we each checked our echo was still at Chiswick abridge and under coach Steve’s instruction we crossed the river again to the Surrey side out of the way of our rowing friends.
From then on it was a simple paddle along the river crossing again to Middlesex side to make the entrance to the historic boats and journeys end.
An easy get off for each and coach Steve was very grateful for the help putting the boats back on the racks. It did take a call to Michelle asking if there was any space for Mick’s boat, as the only slot left was a sea kayak. Michelle informed coach Steve that the sea kayak’s were away for next weekend so any available slot could be used. So Mick and Steve put the kayak away.
With everyone departed it was time to check on the cruiser which was still tied to the pontoon from last week. Apparently the piece they needed to repair their engine, which had caused them to stop there hadn’t materialised, hence they had been stuck there all week. Not a bad speech to stop at in such gorgeous sunny weather.
So ended our slightly slower paddle on the river. The first group I understand travelled to Isleworth, before deciding to stop at the London Apprentice. We had spotted them as they paddled by Kew Bridge. As they were on a faster transit there wasn’t a need to chase them down.
Pictures this week are by Mick Glossop.