Trip Report


End of the River?

Ready for the Off! A June weekend with a forecast of fine British summer weather (warm but with a risk of rain later!) and the prospect of spending most of the weekend afloat on the water, just coming ashore to camp and eat! This was the prospect facing a group of Bucks scouts this summer as they prepared to kayak down the Thames from Windsor to Teddington.

For some in the group  this was the final leg of a 4 year trip to complete the non-tidal Thames having started the route, up at Lechlade, 4 years earlier. For others it was the first time on such a trip, after learning to paddle this summer.

Scouts from across Bucks county (and some from just across the Border in Berkshire!) meet weekly though the summer at the Scout Boat Centre, Longridge to progress through their  canoeists badges and the British Canoe Union star schemes. A key part of these badges is taking part in a  journey by kayak or canoe.

So on the 28th and 29th June  a mixed group of Scouts, Explorer Scouts, Scout leaders, BCU coaches  and Adult helpers (plus 1 Cub Scout!) representing groups from across the county took to the water on the River Thames at Windsor, destined for Teddington and the Royal Canoe Club, with an overnight stop at Laleham. A distance of about 40 kms. in total.

How many boats can you get in a lock? The group cruised along the river accompanied by narrow boats, Thames cruisers, and even Paddle steamers! Passing through the locks as we went. This effectively gauranteed a daily record for the lock keepers of the maximum boats in a lock at one time!

We also managed to provide entertainment not only for ourselves but also for the small crowds of people at the busy locks on this very popular stretch of the Thames. The site of so many Kayaks sitting in the locks safely rafted up en masse in front of the more normal   Thames Cruisers and "Rosie and Jim" Narrow boats, was obviously different enough to attract quite a crowd of on-lookers

So after two days, a night under canvass and 40 kms. paddling we arrived at the historic Royal Canoe Club in Teddington, tired and hot but having thoroughly enjoyed our weekend escape on the river. Everyone's  paddling skills had improved and we were already planning the next trip! Do we press on to London, back to the start at Lechlade or go further afield to the Wye perhaps?

The Royal Canoe Club, Journeys end.The Royal Canoe Club, Journeys end.

The Royal Canoe Club is the worlds oldest Canoe club, granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in 1866 and it is the training base of many of the GB teams in paddlesports including the Dragon boat and Marathon race teams. The Club secretary not only allowed us free use of their landing and car park facilities but also access to the shower and changing facilities of the club. A gesture that was much appreciated by all at the end of the trip.

If you were wondering who the Cub Scout was by the way he was the son of one of the  Leaders joining in the trip in an open canoe with Dad!

Garry Miller