Matt organised an autumn touring trip on the River Medway on 5 October. Elli, Maria and Nathan all on their first weekend trip, were joined by Fiona M. (taking a break from her stage career), and regulars, Stephen, Alice, Rob, Dan, Richard and Matt.
We launched from Tonbridge close to the castle and paddled to Yalding. A feature of this trip is the six canoe shoots which are graded in level of difficulty, but really the grading relates to the height of the shoot and how fast you end up going. One of the earlier shoots almost got Stephen and me in (paddling tandem in the canoe), so after that we kneeled, rather than remaining in the sitting position to lower our centres of gravity. The last shoot was long and apparently has gates which can open. Bowman, Stephen, got a soaking, but it was a lot of fun. This was the slide that I wanted the BBC to film us on for the slots between programmes (but they went for the sea kayakers rafting up in Scotland instead).
Because it was harvest season, we looked out for tasty things overhanging the water and spotted hops, rosehips, blackberries and field maple. Stephen, Alice and I managed to fill a lunchbox with sloes so that Stephen could make some sloe gin. It wouldn’t have been a trip to Kent without a view of an oast house. Traditionally, they would have been in use around this time of the year drying the hops.
On the wildlife front, we had followed a kingfisher down the river for a bit, but the bonus was on returning to the boatshed in Chiswick where Fiona spotted tawny owls perched on the fence by the floodlit pitch and flying about. A magical end to the day.
Thanks for Matt for organising a great day for us all.
More photos here