Sunday, January 22, 2012
Lost in the reeds!
So at 9:50am I arrive at Charlies eating my breakfast (a hard boiled egg if you must know!).
The plan was to paddle from Eling and try to get as far up the River Test as possible with the hope of being able to cross under the M27, "simple, one would think".
We met Stu at Eling wharf at 10:00am and set off for what was to be a very enjoyable mornings paddle. The weather was not great, a bit over cast but the water was calm, "like a mill pond" which has become something of a catchphrase for us now.
As we paddled out we noticed that the tide was particularly high and thus would allow us to cheat a bit and take a small but significant short cut across one of the mud banks, Stu quite rightly pointed out that it seemed somewhat daft to be taking short cuts as we were supposed to be in training for a paddle of significantly longer length than this one.
We paddle on to the Redbridge flyover but because the tides were so high we were confronted with our first challenge of the day, "The kayak limbo", which for myself and Stu wasn't to bad, but for Charlie who is considerably taller than us, this was a much more difficult affair and one well worth watching for Stu and myself.
With Charlie safely under the bridge we were hit by the force of the tides as they had turned and were against us with the addition of a head on wind, this made the next section of the paddle a little tougher than we had faced through there before but we put our heads down and paddled around the first reed bed where we were sheltered from the wind and things got a little easier.
Just to break away from the paddling thing for a minute, the wildlife that we see on a regular basis in and around Southampton waters is incredible, I mean we have seen some amazing things from seals at Lymington to kingfishers, Harriers, buzzards, a whole host of different ducks and geese, it really is incredible to think that most of us have no idea that this wildlife even exists in such close proximity.
Back to the paddle, we carried on up river passing through the various reed channels that by now were getting narrower and narrower, here is a picture to give you an idea.
We continued on this particular tributary dodging the fallen trees and ploughing our own way through the reeds until we finally came to the test way path and the end of the road "river" for us.
We headed back trying various little runs which all eventually came to dead ends, until finally we had returned back far enough to see another possible way around. As we paddled on we soon came to a small bridge and weir which was again another chance for us to show some bystanders our kayak limboing prowess, unfortunately we had also exhausted all of our options in getting any further up river so had to turn back and admit defeat.
The paddle back to Eling was to be a tough one as the wind had picked up and so had the chop. With our heads down we dug in and paddled back under Redbridge flyover and around in to Eling wharf against the tide, which if you have any experience of paddling against the tide in the Solent "as we have, due to being rubbish at reading the tides" you will know that it is no easy feat.
All in all not the longest of paddles but a very enjoyable one.
After a coffee in the Dub and a beer in the pub, we were warmed up and ready for our roasts!