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August 18, 2017, 06:06:06 am
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CSCC Reports 2017: River Medway - Jan 2017

Owing to low water levels on white water rivers, our plans for the weekend had to change at the last minute.  We went for a day trip on the river Medway and I shamelessly cribbed Stewart's excellent trip plan from last January.  This time Fi R, Mark, Turtle, Stephen and Dan paddled one-way from Tonbridge to Yalding.  

The trip was memorable for a few reasons.  

First, because the water was slow moving, there was lots of thick ice floating on the surface in many of the eddies.  It was fun to crunch your boat into it, but we were grateful that the air temperature was well above zero, so there was no risk of us being entombed in ice like Shackleton's antarctic ship, 'Endurance'.  The ice also kept all of the motor boats away - the kayakers had the river to themselves.  

Second, the canoe shoots are A LOT of fun and they mean that you don't have tedious portages around all the locks.  The shoots vary in layout and are graded in terms of rough difficulty from 1 to 3.  One of the earlier shoots had a pallet stuck in it making descent a bit more challenging (Stephen gamely climbed back up and removed it).  Another of the shoots was shut (with a locked barrier across the entrance), so that one would have been quite exciting.  We were allowed to go down the last shoot before Yalding which is the same gradient as the adjoining weir and we got up plenty of speed dropping down it.  I had left my helmet and winter dry cag at home and so my heart was pounding when I reached the bottom of this slide.  A google search after I got home revealed that this one often causes swims and damage to canadians, but our short kayaks escaped unscathed.  Mark said the shoots reminded him of the log flume at Disneyland. 
Finally, there was some interesting scenery.  In particular, we passed a ruined motte and bailey castle in Tonbridge and a beautifully preserved oast house near Yalding.

A few practical details for anyone wanting to run/rerun this trip.  The get-in was the lower public car park at the Slade in Tonbridge (expensive parking, but very close to the river).  The get-out was opposite the (temporarily boarded up) Anchor pub in Yalding (free road-side parking by the canoe access point).  You don't pass any other pubs or cafes on this stretch of the river, so you need to bring some drinks & snacks with you.  The distance we paddled is plenty in the winter.  

 

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