Trip Report – River Thames, Hampton court to Richmond 8th September 2019

A fine collection of people, vessels and a dog gathered in Hurst park on the banks of the Thames to enjoy the late summer sunshine. The armada included a paddle board (for 2), homemade and standard issue canoes with a couple of Prodigy’s.

Entry into the water was smoother for some than others……  the prodigy’s pointy keel meant the seal launch had to be rapid but with a 14-foot-long boat, this wasn’t achieved. Keith gave us a very nervy wobbled entry with a frenzy worthy of any Firestarter, but this was not one of the days the author and his front engine would return to the upside down club (more to the latter’s disappointment).

The flotilla paddled towards Molesey lock, it was noticed though that some of the tandem boats were running a little sluggish, it appears some of front engines were experiencing various power failures,  common engine issues included “my arms are tired” and “I’m just getting a snack from the box”

Despite the lack of power progress was made through the lock where the first boat leak was announced.

After regrouping at the bottom of the lock we were on our way.

As Hampton court approached the sheer beauty of the palace in the sunshine became apparent, facilities fit for a king we would expect which is more than we found with the (portable) facilities in Hurst park.

Various distractions were noted en-route, the announcement that Ye olde swan is used as a wedding venue by one member must surely be hint dropping? The authors front engine (by now re-designated as a “passenger”) persuaded the captain to head towards the blackberry bushes…otherwise known as thorny brambles (some would call them trees with the aim to scandalously discredit the authors ability to avoid trees).

There may have been some misunderstanding of responsibilities within the boat as the captain was accused of “Getting my paddle wet” when trying to reverse the boat out of the thorny brambles.

As we paddled sailor’s minds were thinking of property that lined the water, several of the properties were bagsy’d before an intriguing question was raised on account of a waterside clubhouse…. “what is a skiffle?” there wasn’t a clear answer on the day so with the benefit of hindsight (and the internet) here’s Wikipedia’s definition: “a music genre with jazz, blues and American folk influences”. We didn’t notice music or dancing ……seems unlikely, we paddled on.

Teddington lock was our next portage although some passengers found exiting the boat too draining and stayed aboard, enjoying the portage down the rollers in style. Draining should have been considered elsewhere as it was reported that one of the vessels had leak.

A little further down the river we lifted the kayaks out of the water for lunch, an opportunity to empty the leaking boat. It was at this point we learned that Haribo’s are not for sharing……

Halfway through the journey but behind schedule it was decided that we should swap tandem engines passengers to pick up the pace, recharged (some through Haribo’s, many without) we headed downstream.

Interesting to note that beautiful tree lined waterway packed with herons even distracted some of our more experience paddlers, forgetting to put the bung in…is that a rookie error?

Loose tennis balls provided the option to attempt kayak baseball on the Thames, consensus was that chasing the ball would speed up our journey. Reality showed that little contact was made with the ball, and the net result was to lead the team in the wrong direction upstream. Floating cod golf didn’t get off the ground (water) either.

Stocks of snacks were running low, one snack preservation technique was to make the sweets soggy, then when the share was offered there were fewer takers (fewer, but not zero).


As Richmond bridge approached, we knew the end was near, tired and weary we extracted ourselves to stack the boats at the war memorial to sit down with a hard earned ice cream.

A great day of paddling was had which was a little longer than anticipated, the saying ‘better late than never’ applies to both the trip and trip report. The lack of swimming disappointed some, but the enforced McDonalds dinner in the car and a late night added to the fun for my front engine.

Many thanks to Mr Kennett for organising, Lizzy, Ian and Mike for your contributions to the report and fellow paddlers for a great day out.

North Wales trip report August 2019

After a night of wild weather at the campsite we gathered at the café at the Whitewater Centre for the morning briefing. One group went off to paddle the upper T whilst Linda coordinated the car-shuttle arrangements which seemed quite challenging enough for that time of the morning.

The whole group got on the water ready to paddle the (very full) lower T together, but one member decided to swim to test the water temperature within the first 10 paddle strokes (possibly a record?).

Once the water temperature was established the two groups moved down the river having a great time and learning lots from attentive and skilful coaches. We saw a couple of rolls and a couple of swims during the day but all in all a great day’s paddling. There was a second run of the upper T for some and then back to the campsite for a tea party in the caravan!

No-one knows why all the other customers left the room we were dining in but dinner at the pub was a chance to rest and refuel before a dryer night on the campsite but still with plenty of wind to keep the camping exciting.

Sunday began with striking camp and meeting at the centre for the same timetable as the day before. The upper T group did a mix of showing off, learning and stretching their skills while the others ran long the course to watch this time then it was all in the water for a very enjoyable run of the (slightly less full) lower T. Another great day with just one swim on Bala Mill Falls and plenty learnt along the way.

The most hardcore of the group did one more run of the upper T (Danny and Esther) while others washed down, dried out, had a cup of tea or headed straight home.

Thanks to everyone for positivity and good company and especially the coaches for generously making it all possible.

Hamble Ramble and Muddy Scramble – Trip Report June 2019

A Ditty for the Day with no particular rhyme or scansion for better or for worse


The wind blew strong,

The Ramble rippled,

The Pirates ate a mighty breakfast,

(all except the black pudding, that is)

While they laid their plans of derring- do.

The crew turned up,

A motley bunch,

Some dressed for the Arctic,

And others for Sahara

Some in canoes,

Many in Kayaks,

And one, statuesque as he Supped.


The tide took them

Amongst the gin palaces

And the beer bungalows,

Until they came to the wide lagoon,

Where river monsters

Woken by speed boats,

Grabbed the Sup-per

And pulled him down.

Whilst some tracked figures of eight,

Others cruised on, all

Under soaring birds of prey

Next fluffy ducklings

To a landing place for rest and revelry,

And eating of a cake

Which the cook declared as rubbish

But tasted fine to us.

And visits to another friendly Club

(Can you believe?),

With such a mighty shed

It would swallow ten of ours.

Then off again

A race against a falling tide,

Trees dipped down to the water

Which Pirates had to climb over to climb back in,

Who knows why Pirates do the things they do.

Egged on by those scallywags,

All bent a limbo dance under arching branches

The ooze monsters clutched at paddles

As the river ran away

And so to the pub

For Hazel to perfect her mud-wrestling.

Oh how we laughed.

Others scrambled up the slipway legs

Looming above us as the river raced away

Along with Kim

Who. while most relaxed,

Took on the wind, racing back with the tide

And so the end of another day,

Of laughter, humour and a gentle bumble

Along the River Hamble which for the purposes of this last line would be better as Humble

Chi Harbour Trip June 2019

The trip started off with a delay getting home due to roadworks. However, having packed and collected my passenger we were making time until passenger (lets call her Sarah R to protect their identity) caused a wrong turn by distracting the driver (previous for this) and adding another 20 minutes onto  the journey.

Arrived and unpacked, just about to start tent pitching when the call to the river came. As its always a good idea to paddle off the hardy ones went. This endeavour was given the seal of approval quite literally on the water 3 minutes and there was a seal. A lovely sunset paddle up towards Bosham until it got to shallow ensued for John, Mike, Suzanne, Sarah, Vanessa Cath and I. An attempted ram raid on the back of a boat by a respected member was undertaken. Such behaviour from a friendly club. Returned to camp only to find my spot had been taken by the super deluxe glamping accommodation of Dave and Chris’s Caravan.

We then played the old camp game of game of how many people does it takt to put up a tent.

Results: Rob 2-man tent 1(with coffee from the tent pitch nickers so forgiven), Sarah one-man tent 4 plus a bonus Cath to rearrange all the pegs. This was beaten by Dean and Karen the next day with 10 people but a larger tent that took over the rest of the field

Meals cooked late night frisby/football/tennis followed with all the kids, Flo, Dave Sarah (if you want to keep younger campers amused bring a Sarah she is always on the go) until its too dark to see and then some.

To my shame it was when replying to a comment of if the toilets are right over there how do you clean your teeth I got as far as “with a tooth-“ when with mounting horror I realised I had left the wash bag at home. I would like to thank those who offered (well insisted) on lending toothpaste and other toiletries but was constantly reminded of this (Welfare office ??). It was with delight and amusement that marshmallows came out to be roasted over a fire and our younger campers educated the novice campers on the process.

Saturday started with a tired Sarah due to a cold face but has now been received instructions on how to use a sleeping bag (although don’t ask Robbo unless you want to get tied up in it),a friendly club. John on the other had found a beautiful spot for morning yoga.

Onto the water with a short trip to Bosham for ice-cream and some of the crowd (Sarah, Dave, Darren, Greta Eliah) tried out a rope/ tyre swing.

The Remaining Overly ambitious group headed a little further to Prinstead where their efforts were rewarded by finding the local scout group were selling tea. After a quick refill it was back to camp for lunch and a Curtis who had managed to avoid both trips.

The afternoon saw us all padling to East Head where chasing the ball for the lagers sped up. I will admit Dave Sarah and I were quite competitive, and accusations of underhanded splashing were alleged by the main culprit (SARAH again). Have I said this is a friendly club? At one point even splashing John and the paddling Gods extracted revenge by mysteriously allowing her bung to work

Chase the ball which got very competitive even to the point whilst chasing one ball a second appeared bouncing off the water and your humble reviewers head. Thanks DAVE! Well having arrived atEast Head a get out to stretch one’s legs and then a walk over the dunes for ice cream or a paddle “around the corner” for ice-cream. Well 4 Km later the let’s paddle a bit further passed the walkers who were all returning with their ice creams. Suitably refreshed it was back to camp and Curtis who seemed to have forgotten to get on the water again opting for Chichester instead. Back at base Chris kindly let me have ag go on her paddle board. I would like to tell you your amazing documenter was brilliant. If by that we can include turning when going straight, going straight wen turning, wobbling at time and a possibl swim.

Camp cooked dinners, pie and mash in an oven for some I hear. Kim & Tracy heading back to Saltdean rather than camp. I tried teaching Sarah but with footballs and frisby about I was on a losing battle but at least we ended up with something better than noodles we settled around the indoor campfire where marshmallows were toasted again. Talk turned to the fire retardancy of the shelter and ACC clothing. It will be interesting to see what the committee make of our idea for ACC balaclavas. This is a friendly club. So off to bed again where guess who found they had overdone the security arrangements on their tent. Cable tying the zip together (pirates blamed). That night some wild animal could be heard by Ian growling by a certain tent in the night. Consensus is a Gruffalo.

Sunday dawn came almost as bright as my & Caths sunburn as pots pans bowls and kettles go underway.

Todays exploits was a “Gentle” trip to Del Quay for lunch and our two non-campers returned to join us. Off we set a collection of Canoes Kayaks and SUP to dodge the boats. I won’t go into details of yet more splashing. Honestly you cannot trust some people. Ball throwing ensued. Curtis missing again its odd how he never ended up on the water. Dean paddled amazingly with a borrowed paddle and as photographs prove Karen took it a little easier. In fact, Dean was not the only one trying a different paddle as several were swapped and swapped again. See I told you this was a friendly club. Having arrived at Del Quay an overly ambitious group again followed John through jellyfish packed water to a huge flock of swans at Fishbourne and back whiles others enjoyed lunch on the beach or in the pub. Lunch over John called out right time to head back with “Rob finish that Pint” (never sure what happened to that glass) off we set again. The wind had got up so the Pirates hoisted sail (namely into Neil’s back I think) and off we went. Chris did an amazing job on the paddle board epically a she powered by what can only be a marooned island. Hazel and Erin had picked up an additional passenger on their tandem in the form of a large Seaweed looking creature with a feather in his cap on front of the boat. Ian G spotted a Peregrine Falcon on top of a cardinal marker so an extra treat there. Chichester Harbour is a beautiful place to paddle. Upon arriving back at the get off a few rolls were executed (note check you spray deck is in on both sides) first.

All tents down (Sarah Greta and Eliah football again) apart from Vanessa who decided to enjoy the peace and quiet for an extra night it was time to go. Just one last look at the water as it had been over an hour and we met Dean & Karren doing the same thing. Well packed happy, tired it was back to HQ to put boats away before home for a teeth brush and shower you will be pleased to know before a soft bed with a nightcap and fond memories of a wonderful trip with great (friendly) people. Thank You

River Wye – May 2019. A dog’s eye view.

After another great weekend looking after Max as he canoed on the Wye on the Welsh/English border, I have been asked to write this report. If you would prefer pictures rather than words then have a look here. To introduce myself I am Genie, Max’s dog. We got to the campsite on Friday at Ross-on-Wye nice and early so that Max could cook up a storm of Chilli for everyone. People drifted in over the next few hours, with Christelle arriving last, having visited, I think she said,  Scotland en route, declaring that her phone had run out of battery so she got a bit lost.

We then had a conflab to see who had forgotten what and to check that everyone had forgotten something different so that we could all swap the things that we had two of. Nothing major, just sleeping bags, tents, that sort of thing.

We woke up ridiculously early next morning to the sound of Neil playing back a recording of birds to wake the birds up in order to wake us up. It worked for most people except Vanessa who had spent the night rearranging her tent so that she could have a sleep-in. Car shuttling took place to Belbin’s campsite, in the back of beyond, but nearish Symonds Yat. Having found the place, but not the instructions on where to park, Cathé decided to go and hunt for bears back up the forest road, while the other cars went and found the get-in – which was some way away in the huge, but beautiful campsite. Sara drove everyone back to base, having picked up Cathé, sans bears, with four conflicting sets of instructions for directions being given at the same time.  Stopping off to buy sarnies she confidently set off again having failed to replace her petrol cap or buy petrol (hats off to the nice man in the car behind).

The Ross canoeing club has the easiest get in in the world, which suits me as I can’t be doing with wet paws in the morning. You can see me  supervising the get-on in this picture and thanks to my efforts by 10.00am we were off.

The flow was good, so we could have drifted down without doing anything, but I instructed Max and Vanessa to put some effort in. I got the impression that Christelle and Sara were a bit clueless, but were getting some decent instruction from Adie and Nick respectively.  No idea what Pirates Neil and Robbo were up to, but unlikely to be good and Cathé at this point was by herself in order to leave space in her canoe for any bears that she saw on the way. Wales is a place of mystery – we spotted lots of sheep who looked like cows and cows who looked like sheep as well as swimmerys of swans of up to twelve at a time. I laid back and enjoyed myself as we zoomed along. There was a little wave that we played on and some other bits of bubbly water to bump around on. Just enough to make me prick my ears up, but not so much as to make me think I would need my life jacket (a rather smart red and black jobby).  At some point someone decided that we were going to get to Symonds Yat too early so we rafted up for half and hour and drifted. After this we set off again. Robbo decided to make some friends from the many hired canoes out on the river.

We then carried on as we were nearly at our destination. We were nearly at our destination for the next few hours and during the course of that I spotted some kingfishers darting across in front of us and three Unicorns in a canoe who Robbo, of course, rescued and befriended in his own unique way. Being nearly at our destination, we had some lunch up on the bank near a pub, from where we put bets on as to who might fall in of the several crafts that we pulling up.

There was some swapping around in boats as Cathé had done a fine job of canoeing by herself for miles but eventually needed an extra Robbo engine at the front.  Finally we arrived at Symonds Yat. This became a little exciting for me as I had to wake up to go over the Grade 2 rapids. All went well apart from 2 paddles splitting, one just on the approach by Sara and Nick. Robbo and Cathé decided that they preferred swimming, while everyone else showed them how to do it properly. They have so much to learn. I heard Cathé instructing Robbo as to how to tell the difference between a rock, a tree and the water.  He really does need to get to know the basics if he is to avoid breaking his paddle in the future.

After some more playing it was a short drift on back and then return to camp where I had an exciting game of frisbee with some new friends. I don’t understand why it never lands, but I try regardless to get it.  We all went to the pub, except that Sara went to a different pub, but having found no one to play with there, came to the right one. Robbo threw my best ball away, which I had just found on the footpath, and neither he nor I could find it, but everyone seemed to enjoy watching him peer under bushes looking for it.

Next day we were woken early again to the sound of Christelle cooking an armies worth of lamb kebabs and bacon for everyone, except herself. She even provided ketchup. Having piled up all the meat neatly on a table, we left to go canoeing. We drove up to Hoarwithy, and then went on a gentle paddle downstream. Robbo was quite sad, because apart from one small rowing boat, there were no new friends on the river. I notice that Adie glues his arm to the right side of the canoe and Christelle to the left. It was smooth as glass, except when it wasn’t, beautiful and tranquil.  More swans, herons, geese, ducklings. They all look like potential tasty snacks to me, but I resist. I am, if I say it myself, a remarkably well behaved dog. There was a bit of canoe swapping, a few mini bits of bubbly water, but mostly just a quiet pootle down with lunch on the riverbank.

While Christelle took folks back up stream to get the cars, I snoozed – my frisbee friends having already gone. After that it was the sad bit with all the tents being taken down, except Vanessa who decided she liked being in an empty field. We all left happy having had the most wonderful fun, friendship and laughter filled weekend. Christelle and Sara had had an amazing introduction to canoeing with expert tuition provided and are being called to go over to the dark side. Pirate Neil, who had helped me organise the event, congratulated me on keeping everyone safe happy and knackered. I am hoping Max will need looking after again soon.

Ouse Cruise Trip Report – May 2019

May bank holiday saw a small band of paddlers gather, slightly earlier than requested, in a car park by Barcombe Mill. After some dressing and a clear briefing from Cathe, we began to carry our boats to the put-in (I’m learning some new terms ! ). Help was offered to all and, after a careful entry, we set off. The weather was sunny/cloudy and dry, so we were all keen to set off for a long but gentle paddle. With Cathe at the front and Hazel at the rear “line of sight” was, mostly, well maintained.

We arrived at Isfield weir after a minor but entertaining diversion and after passing some casual paddlers that were leaving or returning to the pub and required a wide berth. After lunch a few brave souls (Sam and Linda) breached the weir, with Cathe and Steve in the water in case of a mishap.

The return journey was slightly colder and seemed shorter. If our journey was videoed the accompanying music could be drawn from”Tangled” for Sarah and Colin, who enjoyed some close moments with some trees ! Sarah bribed me to attempt my party trick but I had to try it in my kayak , this was a thinly veiled attempt to video me capsizing. I didn’t get wet but did mange to impress Sarah with my flexibility, naturally I had to repeat this on dry land but still in my full gear !
For those who saw it they can now remember my name as Terry the bendy guy.
This was a lovely first trip for me with a lovely group of people, we had fun and fellowship and a couple of Jaffa cakes too ! Thanks to one and all.

River Wey – Triggs Loop April 2019

A lovely, gentle round trip on the River Wey and the Wey Navigation, starting and finishing at the Old Tannery at Send. It was about 10 km (6.5 miles) in total with a couple of easy portages on the outward leg and a pub break on the return jouorney. And we had as many canoes as kayaks – five of each!


North Wales White Water – March 2019

Friday 29th March:

After a lack of rain scuppered original plans to go to Devon, 10 of us made the journey to North Wales in search of water. The early risers (

Max and Rob) made it to Bala by lunchtime where they took advantage of the sunny weather and (apparently!) circumnavigated the entire 8.5miles of Bala lake. They were kind enough to send pictures of their view and lakeside pint with those of us stuck in a tailback on the M25. In spite of the traffic the time flew by in our car, largely thanks to good company and the 3-disc 70s cheese CD that Esther had requested I bring along for Daniel to sing along to. On the approach we drove along winding and sometimes muddy roads and were welcomed by a blanket of stars and the majestic silhouettes of the Welsh countryside.

The cottage we stayed in was lovely, although some managed to bag (slightly?) better sleeping arrangements than others. En-suite rooms with freestanding baths, double beds, and electric blankets are, I’m told, no comparison to the comfort of the living from floor. Lesson learned: don’t dither and book early!

Saturday 30th March:

We woke up early to a dawn chorus of cows (there was one outside the window) and sheep, with a beautiful day dawning over the hills. There was no time for breakfast at the cottage as we were under strict instructions from Esther to be ready to leave by 8am to make the most of a full day of paddling on the Tryweryn.

After a round of bacon butties the coaches did a quick blast of the Upper T before joining with the rest of us at Chapel Falls to run the Lower T. The group split into two groups, one led by Adrian (Jen, Max, John M, Dave) and the other by Danny (Esther, Rob, me) whilst John K paddled his canoe with a friend that joined for the day. Our group worked on ferry glides, catching eddies, playing on the waves, and learning to read the water and use it to our advantage. We recalled the all-important mantra ‘look where you want to go’ (and don’t look where you don’t want to go!) as we dodged the rock garden obstacle course.

Rob may have done well to remember this advice after a close-encounter with a rock saw him marooned on an island like Robinson Crusoe, without his boat. The other group joined just in time to catch the action and the rest of us watched on in awe as Danny and Adrian used their white water rescue skills to rescue the boat and get it up and across the river back to Rob. A really impressive demonstration using throwlines ensued – but I missed this bit as I was talking to Max. After several hours (probably just 20 mins) Rob was back in his boat safely. None of us were willing him to capsize on re-entry.

Drama over we saw John K having lunch on a nearby riverbank and we stopped briefly for a well-earned sugar refuel. Realising I’d left my Jaffa Cakes back at the cottage, Danny threw me a snickers, which only narrowly missed landing in the water. Rob then retrieved a flapjack from a dubiously placed pocket in his drysuit trousers. We have young readers so I won’t go into details but it’s all on the go-pro (enjoy editing that Dave!)

About 4 hours in we were nearing the end of our time paddling the Lower T. Max, Rob and I did the narrow leat portage to a safe vantage point where we were able to watch the more experienced paddlers tackle the Grade 4 Bala Mill Falls – one definitely not for the faint-hearted! Whilst all made it down safely there were a couple of swims (and excellent rescues by John M and Adrian). Incredibly, those that swam seemed most concerned about the scratches they’d received to their helmet. Lesson: ACC club is a tough bunch! (a fact further exemplified by Esther who paddled the entire 2 days with a frozen shoulder)

After a quick lunch break the more experienced paddlers did a final run of the Upper T whilst their film crew ran alongside them. Danny did a helicopter spin down the ‘graveyard’, he and Adrian demonstrated textbook ‘rolls in anger’, and Jen made a late bid for ‘swimmer of the year’. Lesson: rolling and swimming are no bad things and show you are pushing yourself and learning!

After 6 hours of paddling we headed back to the base and with one hour before we were due to head out for dinner those who still had the energy joined me on what will surely become a traditional post-paddle walk. During our walk through the spectacular countryside we saw a dead sheep, smoke in the distance (which we had to double check wasn’t a flare set off by Rob and that we had indeed rescued him from the island), and I destroyed the only shoes I’d brought by miscalculating a jump across a muddy poo puddle (which I’m sure Dave encouraged). Returning to base and having found a clean pair of socks we then headed out to dinner at a local friendly pub. Here the Welsh Lamb was so good it converted our resident vegetarian (apparently what happens on tour, stays on tour!) and Max’s dogs got spoilt with divine dog biscuits courtesy of the pub’s landlord. After the meal we spent the evening huddled around the log burner in the cottage, reflecting on the shenanigans of the day. A great end to another seriously awesome ACC day.

Sunday 31st March:

We woke up to the sounds of more cows, sheep and the buzz of a killer bee that had infiltrated the cottage. In less of a rush this morning we indulged in the treat of a cooked breakfast by Max. After breakfast we drove through the valleys of Llangollen where we paddled the Dee. We were sad to say goodbye to Dave at this point who had to make an early return home. We did however meet John Russell in the car park who joined our group for the paddle. The experienced group entered the Dee via Horse Shoe Falls whilst Max, Rob and I seal launched or entered via the bank. All of the ladies then nailed Serpent’s Tail, showing the boys how it is done! There was some talk of putting a request to the club treasurer for an order of ‘paddle like a girl’ t-shirts.

After the excitement of Serpent’s tail we paddled down alongside passing steam trains to Mile End Mill for some wave play and a demonstration by Esther of how to get ‘stuck in’ (and unstuck from) a hole. After some play the novice group got off of the water whilst the more experienced group paddled ½ mile on to tackle Town Falls where all made it down safely. We reunited in the car park to say our goodbyes ahead of the journey home.

Before setting off Danny, Esther and I stopped off to look at Town Falls from the bridge in the small town of Llangollen. As a treat for the way home Esther introduced us to the Welsh Oggie and head coach Danny bought me a chocolate ice cream as a well done for my efforts (I call it surviving!) Danny was then delighted to find out that we still had the 3rd CD of the 70s pop classics to listen to on journey back.

Everyone was home by 10pm and our FB group chat was full of the group thanking our excellent leaders and trip organisers Danny, Adrian, and Esther and expressing what a lovely time they’d had in such great company – which sort of sums it up really nicely. Whilst in many ways these trips are about paddling with friends, learning loads, and having a great laugh while we do so, it’s also clear that each of these friends has your back, wants you to do well, and would be there in a heartbeat if you find yourself in a sticky situation on the water. Lesson: ACC club is the best