What better start to a dismal December day, than loading eight kayaks onto cars at 8am in ice-cold rain showers, driving for half an hour and then paddling 22km? Oh, and that’s with the river on an amber warning the whole way. Well, last Friday (29 December) was perfect for paddlers with a taste for that kind of fun and games, and fifteen of them paddled down from Penton Hook Lock, just up from Shepperton, back to Royal. The rational explanation for this behaviour was that it was fine preparation for the Frank Luzmore Memorial Race, coming up next Sunday (7 January).
There were seven K2s on the paddle – Nicole and Louis, Ellen and Lewis, Abi and Rob, Bea and Amber (making a guest appearance from Elmbridge), Lauren and Harry, James A. and Peter, Martin and Michael – plus Phil Carter as the lone K1 paddler. Martin’s parent, Marguerite and Andy, followed along the tow path to provide help if needed and got plastered in mud for their troubles – as if Martin wasn’t bringing home enough washing! Every one of the paddlers were well wrapped up and properly equipped for a fast river the speed of which made steering difficult on occasions and offered plenty of opportunities to get very wet and really, really cold. The group set off from Penton Hook at 9.35am and luckily the sun made a several welcome appearances as they made their way down the river. The first paddlers were back at Trowlock Island by 11.40am, which, allowing for the four portages, made it a very fast journey! Funnily enough, nobody jumped in the river at the end of this trip.
Hot chocolates from Linda and Sandra at the finish. Many thanks to Nicole Williams for organising the whole event.
— Philip Motha