CSCC Reports 2009: Thames: Wallingford to Mapledurham - 31st January 2009
On Saturday 31st January 2009 Stephen led a trip on the Thames from Wallingford to Mapledurham. The other paddlers were Beth, Chris, Gordon, Nigel and Dan J. Sadly Julian missed out due to illness.
We paddled along a particularly scenic stretch of the Thames (more attractive than most of the river because of hills) which several of us had paddled previously as part of our epic "Source to Sea" programme. The trip distance was about 12 miles which seemed about right after a lengthy break from touring. We were really lucky with the weather, as it was dry and sunny and we were all wrapped up warm, so no-one got too cold. However, the low temperature did mean that there were no powered craft to be seen and we and the rowers had the river to ourselves, which gave it a more natural feel than it has in the summer. There are some interesting man-made features, however, including Brunel railway bridges. Unfortunately we did not have time to paddle up to Mapledurham itself which is a lovely old building.
One of the lock-keepers ticked us off for failing to stick our BCU stickers on our boats, although he adminstered only the gentlest of reprimands, did not demand payment and offered us advice on how best to tackle the next lock.
We stopped for a packed lunch at one of the locks we encountered (sorry I lost count of how many) and after our paddle we thawed out at the nice friendly "Greene King" owned pub on the outskirts of Wallingford.
Many thanks to Stephen for organising such a pleasant day out.
A few other pieces of trip planning information-
The get-in was at the public car park at Wallingford right next to the road bridge over the Thames. There is a lot of space here and parking's free at the moment (the pay and display machine is out of order), although the loo appears to be permanently locked (visit Waitrose on the other side of the river instead and add to your lunch rations while you're at it).
On the day we changed our planned get-out from Pangbourne to Mapledurham lock. Access to the small car park by the lock was trickier than Pangbourne, because we had to drive through a field of cattle (who were reluctant to shift) and the lock-keeper was determined to lock the car park at 4pm which put us under a bit of time pressure. So by the canoe club at Pangbourne will usually be a better get out.