CSCC Reports 2010: River Lee, 30 October 2010

First the practical stuff: We used the short-stay car park on Hartham Common. Max stay is 5 hours. There was a long stay car park further from the river. If you drive to the far end of the short-stay carpark, you are a few yards from the tow-path above Hertford Weir, or can cross over a leat and walk down to Herts Canoe Club to launch below.

In contrast, we didn't know where we were going, but after we'd all got lost in the leisure centre car park and turned round we got to the right place. 6 of us were so desperate to get on we didn't even walk to the get-in, instead we paddled along the tiny leat and had to be pulled and pushed over a weir to the river. Soon we had autumnal tree-lined banks all the way to the weir. The newcomers shot it with ease, while those more experienced inexplicably only got half way down, before one by one being pulled into the wave, and then doing the same at the bottom.

After that, all was scenic flat. We even managed games of tag and polo before turning back up the canal. Failure to find a lock key meant a portage. Then paddling further up, waking a sleeping fisherman, as far as the pub. Here the steering committee agreed to paddle a little further (consensus achieved by giving Stewart's sandwich to Fi so she couldn't speak to disagree). The next bridge had two options - a clear way under and a dark tunnel with no end in sight. Around the dark corner was a challenging-looking weir, but fortunately another cut through back to the main river.

Here the group split. For some reason some people didn't want to clamber up narrow steps and over a fence to get up the weir, and preferred the pub. 6 of us, however, got up the weir via the steps or by climbing the weir. The paddle upstream started with some very pretty buildings and parkland, before showing the true meaning of "tree-lined ditch". Eventually we met a tree we couldn't paddle through, and headed back. Earlier scouting paid off, as two people were able to get out and push the others down the weir, saving much faff.

Back to the cars and off with 15 minutes to spare.

Well done to Fi, Mark, Richard J, David G, Hils, Pete, Karen, Eleanor, Stewart, Gavin and Martin for exploring a new bit of river!

More photos here