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CSCC Reports 2009: Wandle - March 2009

On Sunday 1st March 2009 Alex organised a trip down the River Wandle in South London.  Luis, Dan H., Dan J. Chris and novice paddler, Ed, also turned out.  It was a lovely sunny day. 

We got on the river at Merton Abbey Mills.  Although there appeared to be a farmers' market in progress we were able to find free road side parking spaces very close by on Station Road.  Launching our kayaks by the (pretty) water wheel proved quite straightforward. 

The trip was gritty urban paddling at its most entertaining.  Members of the public seemed surprised to see people boating on what is to many South Londoners little more than a convenient waste disposal facility.  In many of the stretches of the river which Chris and his volunteer friends have not yet cleaned up there are all sorts of obstacles to paddle around - I counted five motorscooters.  And yet somehow the water seemed really clean.  How?  There were plenty of anglers and several claimed to have caught a bite.

A few features stand out. 

The tunnel underneath Southside shopping centre is fantastic.  It's really dark and long and without a head torch it would be pretty scary.  Even with a head torch you couldn't see much apart from the luminous tape on everyone else's bouyancy aids. 

Earlier on there is another much briefer underground section - after zooming down a slope you get water fired at you from the side.  Fun too.

There are some stretches where the river has been diverted along what closely resembles a concrete ramp from a multi storey car park.  It was split down the middle by a barrier, but we didn't figure out why.  All quite strange. 

We went down several weirs.  The one which sticks in my mind has a steep slide and then at the bottom there is a large pipe which you have to duck under.  It was easy when we tackled it, but if the river were at a higher level this might have been tricky.

We managed to find a good little play wave which provided good practice for Ed who was new to breaking in and out and ferry gliding.  No swims = an excellent result.

We got out just before the Wandle joins the Thames (The Causeway, Wandsworth) and after scraping off the mud we went for a lunch at the Queen Adelaide pub nearby on Putney Bridge Road.  We all opted for the tasty fish and chips and then set off for home.

Our thanks go to Alex for organising a quirky fun day out.

Luis's photos are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mmsi253902412/CSCCWandle1March2009?feat=directlink

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