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    Filming Operations - Greenwich Reach to Lower Pool
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    M50 of 2021 - Kings Reach - Closure of No. 2 Arch Blackfriars Bridge - Blackfriars Refurbishment Project
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    M45 of 2021 - Lambeth Reach - Diving Operations
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    M43 of 2021 - Upper Pool - Police Pier Works
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    Barking Reach - Barking Riverside Pier Construction Works

Bangers! Fireworks paddle, Sunday 7 Nov 2021

There certainly were fireworks at Sundays paddle led by the fabulous Fiona!  We set off with starting pistol bangs as the sky lit up behind us with a welcoming display of fireworks captured on video so well by Elsa. You can download the 14 seconds/30Mb video here –

We arrived at the perfect spot mid paddle alongside The Old Deer Park/rugby ground at Richmond to catch the best of the high fliers exploding in glorious blooms up above the tree line and mirrored in the water…paddle-ishiously! Fortunately there where no damp squibs in our crew!

Mary brought some bangers of our own and we had fireworks of the edible kind to fuel us for the paddle back to The Arches. Fiona guided us expertly around the tomato sauce laden napkin cunningly nabbed from The London Apprentice,  my lips are sealed as to the culprit. 🤣 

And the crew proved their mastery by eating sausages with chop sticks alongside their good paddle skills (not at the same time may I add)! Wai had cold feet and was wrapped up expertly in our one plastic bag yet still managed to hop in and bag a sausage!

This brought back memories of frenzied pogo antics in the mosh pit wearing bin bags! Those of a certain age will get it – and those that don’t, see below!

A fun nights paddle, I think I can safely say, was had by all!

White Cliffs and Sea Shanties – Dorset, September 2021

Ten paddlers huddled on Ringstead Beach for a safety briefing as the rain fell and cloud thickened; day one of CKC’s Jurassic Coast trip was underway. The weekend was designed for newer members to gain sea experience alongside seasoned kayakers, supported by Alex, our sea leader.

Dave’s route plan took us past dramatic cliffs, including the 60-metre arch at Durdle Door. Striking scenery, rock hopping opportunities, wave action near cliffs, and a weak tidal stream promised a mix of interesting features in relatively safe conditions.

We planned to launch by 10am to benefit from the tide eastward to Lulworth Cove and arrive as it turned. We made it, though some drivers spent an anxious hour hunting for diesel, foraging as anxiously as any fossilized plesiosaur buried in the Jurassic cliffs ever had.

We launched eastwards towards White Nothe headland in moderate winds. Our three newbies (including me) soon settled, with many helpful tips from more experienced kayakers – Fiona, Liza, Dave, Olwen, and Alex. Fortunately, the rain subsided as we passed vertically folded chalk headlands and geometrically-weathered rock platforms.

Rock-hopping was the highlight of the day. “I’m so glad you made me do that!” yelled Nick, displaying the marine equivalent of summit fever as he shot through two linked arches joined by a rocky channel. My favourite was a rock reef with a single gap-toothed opening that forced the surge high, making for a great ride.

Our first arch was Bat’s Hole, then the mighty Durdle Door. There, the main hazard was other people. A powerful Rib loaded with sightseers stood off to one side, while paddle boarders, divers and swimmers crowded the archway. We went through cautiously, in single file. Between Durdle Door and our lunch stop at Lulworth Cove, we found many rocky spots to swish through gaps and practice catching the swell.

Entering Lulworth Cove, we gave the rock ledge a wide berth. Divers were another hazard, visible as orange floats dotting the water but liable to surface anywhere.

During our quick lunch break, the tide turned. Alex shot out into the bay blasting sea shanties from a cockpit-mounted stereo. As Dave had named the WhatsApp group “Say no to sea shanties,” grudge-match banter over these songs was a feature of the trip. I became a mild convert.

The wind dropped, giving us a placid return run with misty light and muted colours. Back at Ringstead, we tried capsize and rescue drills, before carrying the boats back up the steep track to the carpark.

Over a robust pub meal on Saturday night, Fiona and Dave checked on the newer paddlers’ energy levels and appetite for risk (both high). Several Plan Bs were mooted as the wind was due to rise through Sunday. The most cautious option was a river paddle, up the Wareham River “and down the Piddle” (definitely Plan D-minus). In the end, we stuck to our route into Poole Harbour from Swanage, but as a one-way trip with a car shuttle rather than doubling the distance. 

We pushed off from Swanage in a light chop; the forecast was for a maximum swell of 0.4 metres. More of a hazard was a sailing race and pleasure boats. Soon we reached the leeward side of the towering chalk cliffs, where the wind dropped. Fiona led us into a series of wide-mouthed caves.

We approached Old Harry rocks, the impressive chalk stacks at the headland, in calm, sunlit water, able to relax and enjoy the view.

The tide was just a bit too low to play in many of the tempting arches and gaps at the headland – rocks were sticking up on the far side. Finally, we found one that looked promising, and everyone shot through into Studland Bay, a dramatically different view of a wide, low-lying inlet stretching past Poole.

For the next ten minutes, we did gleeful circuits of Old Harry’s Wife, who has been crumbling lately and may not be around much longer. 

We made for Studland beach, passing a Border Force vessel seemingly close to shore. Thirty minutes later, when we beached on blond sand, it was a misty shadow behind us. After quick snack break to stretch our legs and wee in the gorse, we got back on the water. Jan, our Greenland stick paddler, loaned me his paddle at this point, and it was a revelation – light, easy and natural as well as pleasingly atavistic.

Timings were critical, as we needed to get into Poole Harbour around 1pm, an hour before slack water, to benefit from incoming tide, while avoiding strong tidal flows that could throw up rough water in the narrow channel. Additional hazards included ferries and the chain link shuttle.

As we turned towards the harbour mouth, a new tune, quieter, sober, more reflective, poured from Alex’s stereo, singing of crossing the bar.  

It’s about death, he yelled into the wind. 

Are you OK to carry on for a bit, Fiona asked? 

Yes, I said, ignorantly bemused. If I had known about the hard pull across Poole Harbour that lay ahead, I might have been more cautious. But we were in, across the bar, and turned hard left into the toughest paddling of the trip. The wind blasted our faces, I tried wash riding and found it didn’t work in such heavy chop. Suddenly, it was fun – bracing and brilliant.

We rested on a small sand bar, sheltered by low gorse then set out again for the next peninsular where our cars were parked. Poole Harbour was bigger than expected and had seemed a tame option, but it was a thrilling ride straight into the wind.

Next morning, a gale came up the channel and Swanage was battered by rain and high winds.

As Tudor said, “We got lucky with the weather and the more planning we did, the luckier we got.”

Many thanks to Dave for trip planning, to Jan, who was our overall organiser, to sea leader Alex for shepherding us on the water, and to everyone who made it so enjoyable.

Chichester Harbour, Aug 2021

Thanks to leader Fiona and co-leader Jan, 6 other paddlers took the opportunity to embark on a club paddle in Chichester on the weekend.  Rich, Jo, Christine, Mike & Marcel used club boats, Jan took his own and Kenneth used the opportunity to try out his new Inuit-inspired, aluminum-framed kayak covered by stretched polyurethane skin.  Second only to his assortment of sweets, everyone was quite impressed!  

An early start meant departing Kew at shortly after 7:30am, planning around high water at 12:30pm.  ETA in Itchenor was around 9:30am.  Fiona’s trip plan advised ‘paddle to Fishbourne’ and during our pre-trip briefing it became clear that she didn’t mean Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight – apparently there are two towns in this area with the same name!  With this cleared up, we set off shortly after 10am, headed towards Chichester whilst enjoying views of the spire in the distance marking the historic town location. 

Towards Fishbourne, Fiona disappeared but we soon realised she paddled up the reeded creek …….. we all followed and this narrow inlet forced us to practice some skills – turning, reversing, maneuvering etc.  

Lunch at Dell Quay – lovely pub and sailing school location – sitting on the wall watching the world go by, soaking up loads of sun and scoffing a sneaky Victoria sponge. 

After lunch, the tide had turned and aided our paddle back.  The gentle flow allowed us to practice some skills before heading back.   All-in-all super weather, super company and a lovely day out!

Selsey Bill, Aug 2021

A small dedicated group from CKC took the opportunity to paddle around Selsey Bill, on the south coast in August 2021. Selsey Bill is familiar from the shipping forecast (where it gets mentioned as part of the inshore waters forecast towards the end of the forecast). We had assumed that the land poking out into the sea was Selsey Bill, but surprised to find that the mainland is called Selsey and Selsey Bill is actually the headland off the end of Selsey that is covered in water at high tide.

So to start our exploration of Selsey Bill we park further West at Bracklesham Beach close to ‘Billy’s on the Beach’ café, next to a pay and display car park right on the beach. The trip has been planned to launch at low water to avoid the sometimes dumping surf on the pebble beach, and with a low water and a gentle slope it is an easy launch. The main hazard being paddling through swimmers and body boarders to the open sea.

Bracklesham Beach at low water (LW) with pebbles and groynes visible, and a flat beach to the sea

Looking back we can see that a flagpole has a British flag flying and that will be our reference point for the return. Once in the open sea, wind is as forecasted at F3-4 with 0.5m waves every 5 seconds, until we reach Selsey Bill.

We head East and as we get closer to Selsey a windmill is visible on shore. As we get closer still, the water becomes turbulent as we cross a shallow bank. Approaching the bill, about an hour after low water, we can still see a submerged pebble bank with seagulls on it marking Selsey Bill.

Selsey and Selsey Bill

Paddling around this and heading into Sussex Bay the wind drops and the water becomes much flatter. The sun also appears and the clouds disappear. It seems that the East side of Selsey Bill has completely different weather to the West side. So it starts to make sense that Selsey Bill is used as a boundary for two areas of the Met Office’s inshore water forecast. Stopping for a tea break on the pebbles along from Selsey, the water becomes very clear, shallow and warm, the sky is clear and blue. A banana with the tea gives the location a secluded tropical feel.

View across Sussex Bay to Aldwick near Bognor Regis (for a lunch stop)

After a pleasant tea break it was a straight paddle across Sussex Bay to Aldwick close to Bognor Regis. Although it is difficult to distinguish any features from distance along this part of the coast, we had planned lunch to be at the start of the groynes near Bognor Regis. With the good visibility we were easily able to identify the location from a considerable distance.

Pebble beach at Aldwick: virtually deserted under clear blue skies

Surprisingly for mid August the pebble beach was virtually deserted. After lunch we head back along the coast with wind F3-4 directly into our faces, looking for the Pagham Harbour entrance. The entrance is difficult to find due to the two parallel sand bars guarding the entrance, but once lined up correctly we slip in easily. Once through the entrance we get pushed really quickly towards the harbour and towards some turbulent water. We had expected calm water in which to explore the harbour, and quickly realise that we won’t be able to get back out for several hours if we continue into Pagham Harbour. A quick change of plan and we try to ferryglide across from one sandbar to the other but don’t make any headway against the flow at all, just going sideways. On the other side we find an eddy and discuss if we should carry the boats over the sandbar or paddle against the flow. Deciding to continue against the flow we slowly creep back to entrance. Paddling around the end of the sandbar at the entrance, the water is so fast that, although we’re paddling fast, we’re not making very much progress and start to slow down until we stop moving forward completely while still paddling at a high rate. We really have to push even harder to to get around the end of the sandbar, but eventually succeed. We land shortly after and walk over the narrow sandbar to have a better look at Pagham Harbour and the entrance.

Turbulent water at the entrance to Pagham Harbour
Exploration of Pagham Harbour has to wait for another day

Continuing our journey, and back at Selsey Bill just after High Water we can see that the water flow is completely different to when we were here a few hours ago. The water is moving very fast and forming smooth waves. We ride the rollercoaster through the waves, reaching 6 knots in the process. A few moments later we get spat out on the other side of Selsey Bill and the flow pretty much stops completely. The wind also drops too, to F2.

We paddle for a further hour looking for the British flag and flag pole for our landing point. As planned, we land at high water +1.5hrs to avoid the dumping surf again. A few minutes later the lifeguards take down the flag – we’re back just in time!

Bracklesham Beach 1.5 hours after high water (HW), now with no groynes visible and a steeper beach, and more people

Dartmouth Trip 9-11 July 2021

The Club spent three days paddling in the Dartmouth area from 9 to 11 July.

Tudor, Richard H and Rob were the first to arrive at the campsite near Slapton in warm sunshine, and used the evening productively with a recce of the local pub. Tudor led the way across the footpaths based on his memory of the “virtual” trip he had previously made on the internet.

Fiona and David T arrived later in the evening.


We met a local paddler Phil at Dartmouth Canoe Club in the centre of Dartmouth, and launched at the slipway near the ferry. Phil provided lots of interesting stories concerning the local sites and history on the way to Blackpool Sands which was the lunch spot. There were plenty of rock-hopping opportunities, and Phil pointed out some of the best ones. He also took us to a more dubious feature – the “smelly waterfall”. The static caravan park located on the cliff directly above the waterfall may have been the cause of the whiffyness. There were some very large grey seals along the coast to Blackpool Sands which came close up to the kayaks and were impressive to watch. You wouldn’t have wanted to startle one of them in a small cave.

Blackpool Sands was relatively quiet when we arrived there for lunch and visited the café. After lunch we headed back to Dartmouth weaving through the rocks, with Phil taking us through an interesting rock corridor close to the get out. The sea was calm with the tide slightly against us on the way but with a bit of help from the wind.

Dinner was had at the Queens Head in Slapton which we found with no problem due to the previous evening’s recce. We headed back to the campsite to meet Liza and David arriving from London at 9.02pm – a full two minutes later than they planned. There was time for trip planning for the next day and a quick Frisbee session before settling down, hoping the tent was waterproof as the forecast rain came in and lasted until 7am the next morning.


The plan for Saturday was Brixham to Warfleet, near Dartmouth, using a shuttle. We dropped a car off at the castle near Warfleet and used the higher ferry to get to the put in at the breakwater car park in Brixham. We got to the car park relatively early to bag some places which meant enough time for a coffee or tea. Local paddlers David J and Anita joined us meaning we had the benefit of local knowledge for a second day running, and that we had our full quota of ‘Davids’ – a total of three (J, P and T).

On the beach at Brixham, about to launch

After watching a seal near the beach we set off at 10:30am around Berry Head avoiding the long lines of the fishermen who are usually stationed there. David J took the group off shore a kilometre or so as he had seen dolphins in the area before. Unfortunately the dolphins were absent that day but it was good to feel a few waves under the kayaks. There weren’t many seabirds around Berry Head either, although it is a renowned spot, but a couple of guillemots flew by and there some gannets and fulmars around.

Looking at the guillemots at Berry Head

From Berry Head on there was some entertaining rockhopping available including caves to explore.


At one point Rob distracted David P by pointing at some geological feature just as a large wave broke and pushed David towards the rocks. David put in a couple of essential support strokes and paddled quickly to safety avoiding being dashed on the rocks.

Look Ma, no hands!

We stopped for lunch near Scabbacombe, as a mist descended, and sheltered under a rock. It got a bit chilly so Fiona organised a Frisbee game to get the blood flowing before carrying on to Warfleet. The next section also had some good rockhopping with more caves.

Rockhopping near Scabbacombe

We paddled into the Dartmouth estuary via the Mew Stone, where there were some grey seals, and then passed the mermaid statue before landing at the small beach at Warfleet.

Seal city, also known as the Mew Stone
Friendly seal near the Mew Stone

Overall, the trip was 18km and took 5hrs 50 mins, average speed 3.1kph (including the lunch stop), F2-3, with waves at a maximum of 0.5m (when offshore looking for the dolphins).

While the drivers headed back to Brixham to collect the cars, Richard and David collected tea and cakes from the tea room at Dartmouth Castle, with great views over the harbour entrance. Richard spotted Monty Halls (marine biologist and TV programme maker) arriving in a van with his family to go fishing and went over to had a chat.

We then went for dinner at the Start Bay Inn at Torcross for fish and chips, lucky enough to get a table indoors which also had great views out to sea.


Unfortunately, both Fiona and Dave T were a bit under the weather over the weekend and they decided that it would be better to head back home rather than spend another day paddling. The forecast wasn’t that positive with rain and stiff winds. Those remaining chose, therefore, to paddle on the Dart from Totnes down tom Dittisham and back. We were up promptly in the morning to strike camp before the rain started and then headed to Totnes for a coffee and bacon roll before saying goodbye to Fiona and Dave as they carried on homewards.

We got on the water at 11:15am at Steamer Quay, about two hours before LW, and paddled down river with the flow passing three canoeists who also set out from Totnes. We went up the creek at Stoke Gabriel to the mill pond and considered getting out to explore, but the water was rapidly draining and there was a real risk of getting stranded. A local advised that we were “fine for next half hour” but then qualified it with “don’t quote me on that and I don’t know when tides change”, so we ignored his advice and went back to the main river. We got to Dittisham at about 12.45pm and had lunch trying to find shelter against the wall under the café.

We set off back to Dartmouth at 1.40pm, which was around LW, at the same time as the canoeists who seemed to be working to the same plan. The total journey was 22.5km in total and took 4 hrs 15mins, average speed 5.25kph and fastest 10.9kph.

Down the River Dart to Dittisham for lunch

We said our goodbyes and headed home to see the Euros final. Even England’s loss after the inevitable penalty shootout did not spoil a great weekend of paddling.

Many thanks to Fiona for organising the trip, and to Phil, David J and Anita for their company and local knowledge.

BC Explore Paddling Award at Folkestone, June 2021

In the last weekend of June, I road-tripped as a group of six newish CKC members to Folkestone for a two-day British Canoeing (BC) Explore Award training course led by Rob Davies from South East Kayaking.

The Explore Award centres around the skills needed to control the kayak and stay safe on the water, usually in a sheltered environment. This course was particularly appealing because it gave an opportunity to develop those fundamental skills in sea conditions.

Club members Jo, Marcel, Mary, Matt, Mike, and I (Rosie) were at a similar level of proficiency, with a recent BC Discover award under our belts. For most of us it was our first time paddling on the sea, so it was reassuring to get a gentle introduction to the waves under expert instruction.

It was especially enjoyable to complete our Explore training against an impressive Kentish clifftop backdrop. I was grateful for the late June warmth and the fabulously turquoise water that I hadn’t expected from a busy port town.

We learned how to control our kayaks in the wind when making tight turns around concrete structures left over from when Folkestone was a working ferry port. We attracted quite an audience from tourists enjoying street food on the pier while we paddled figure of 8s in procession around these.

Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Time XVIII’

Rob gave us some cool tour guide intel in the downtime between activities. He pointed out Antony Gormley’s cast iron sculpture ‘Another Time XVIII’, a human figure which can be seen standing in the pier’s old landing stage at low tide. At high tide the statue is completely submerged. We were alarmed to see its rusty head and shoulders emerging eerily from the water next to us!

Mike helpfully emptying his buddy Marcel’s kayak

On each of the two training days, we finished off the afternoon with capsize and rescue drills. The sea was quite choppy so for this activity so we retreated into the calmer environment of Folkestone harbour, close to a small beach in the event of swimming to shore.

Apart from a few boats, groups of paddleboarders were a hazard, which we successfully manoeuvred around. Coming back into the harbour from a stint out on the open water, one paddleboarder told us we’d just missed a seal in the harbour.

We partnered up for assisted deep water rescues while the seal, presumably, watched and laughed.

Some of us were excited about jumping into the water, and others (well, mainly me!) nervous about capsizing, but the fear quickly dissipated after the first practice once remembering how easily spray decks pop off when you’re under. A pleasant surprise was that the water seemed clean and relatively warm.

Emptying a kayak in deep water takes some strength but is do-able for most paddlers with the right technique by positioning your boat perpendicular to the bow of the capsized boat and carefully pulling it up onto your deck. Top tip: while the kayak is upside down, locate the skeg at the stern to identify which way round it is.

Rosie finding the leverage sweet spot to empty Matt’s kayak

We worked on the art of re-entering the kayak with heel hook rescues. Top Tip #2: keep a low centre of gravity and take it slow to maintain your balance and avoid immediately going back in. This ended up being quite an amusing activity for us and no doubt the seal enjoyed watching it too.

Rob promised that practising heel hook rescues would leave us with almightily bruised thighs, although I can reveal that no bruises emerged for me afterwards. I didn’t ask the others!

I was very pleased to have helped Matt perfect his heel hook rescue. Once happily back in his cockpit and paddling onwards, Matt mused, ‘Wasn’t I wearing sunglasses?’, teaching us my final Top Tip: always stash your hat and glasses in a hatch before throwing yourself into a wet exit!!

Mary about to master edge turns

Rob assessed our capability as we went along. Although he assured us that he rarely prevents anyone from passing the Explore course, it does happen. Rob sometimes recommends people practice a bit more before having another go at the award. So, you’ll be interested to hear whether that applied to any of us…

Drumroll please!
We were all happy to have successfully graduated from the course. Next stop: CKC sea trips!

As this this was a club-only trip and we were all at a similar level, working towards the same goal – confidence and proficiency to join the club’s sea trips – it felt like we learned a lot more than on a mixed training course.

We bonded as a group through the shared experience, and through spending time with likeminded people who felt that capsizing and practising rescues was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

It was a great experience too to help with organising the course, as it helped me gain an understanding of what goes into planning a trip. The logistics of kayak and equipment transportation proved most tricky. Without our superstar van driver/photographer/off-duty instructor, Will, we would have struggled with transporting the kayaks. Thank you Will!!

The next training course after the Explore Award is the Sea Kayak Award. We all felt that we would want to get at least six months of consolidating the weekend’s learning before seeking to level up. But then again, in six months it will be winter, when capsize and rescue drills sound less appealing than in the fabulous conditions we enjoyed at Folkestone…

To new members who have completed their Discover award, I thoroughly recommend taking the Explore course for fundamental skills development. I’d also recommend taking it on the coast if you get the chance, for the bonus of gaining confidence in sea conditions. Folkestone was particularly well suited as we got great experience of the waves but in comforting proximity of the sheltered harbour.

For an idea of the types of techniques and skills we learned, British Canoeing’s Explore award syllabus can be downloaded from their website.

Check out the training page on the CKC website to check for details of upcoming training courses. Feel free to let the club know if you’re ready to take your Explore award and interested in sea-based training, so we can gauge appetite for running more coastal courses in future.

Three Solent Forts and Macaroons, May 2021

Six of us arrived at the Diving Museum car park, Browndown on the south coast near to Gosport on Saturday 1 May 2021. Jan had a new dry suit he was trying out on his first sea crossing:

Jan has a new dry suit to try out

After launching, we head to Gilkicker Point quite quickly with the flow. Then cross the channel for Portsmouth Harbour between fast moving yachts and eastwards over to Spit Sands Fort. This is one of four circular forts built in the Solent as part of the Napoleonic defences in the 1870s, and known as a Palmerston Fort. Palmerston Forts can be found along the south coast (eg the round Martello tower at Seaview) and on the Isle of Wight (eg Sandown Fort, which was used to pump fuel to France as part of the D-Day landings, and now a zoo). All the Solent forts are quite an amazing feat of engineering to be built in the middle of the Solent with no nearby land. All four forts were bought from the government in the 1980s and Spit Bank Fort is now a hotel. Last year they all went up for sale. So if you’re interested, you can put in an offer for Spit Bank Fort, in the region of £4m.

Spit Bank Fort
For sale: Spit Bank Fort

Although not able to land, we circumnavigate the 62.5m diameter fort before heading to a buoy that marks the site of the sinking of the Mary Rose. As you will know, the Mary Rose was the premier battleship of the 1640s, and one of the first to have broadside cannons. She sank while becalmed during a battle with the French in 1645, when a strong gust caused the ship to lean over and allow water in through the gun ports. That flooded the ship almost immediately and caused the brick oven and cannons to break loose. More than 345 sailors died, many caught up in the anti-boarding netting. The ship was raised in 1982 in one of the biggest marine salvage operations of its time. Although the ship itself is now in a museum in Portsmouth attracting 200,000 people a year, the buoy is a very poor memorial, with even some letters rubbed off.

Mary Rose Buoy

From the Mary Rose buoy, we head in a south easterly direction crossing the main channel to Portsmouth Harbour, over to Horse Sands Fort. Unlike Spit Sands Fort, Horse Sands Fort is derelict, or in estate agent language “preserved in its original state”, and yours for only £750,000. It is also at the end of an chain of submerged anti-submarine concrete blocks, part of second world war defences. Apparently those serving on the forts during the second world war were deliberately chosen for their inability to swim, to avoid any attempt to escape. As if to underline the continuing strategic nature of the port at Portsmouth, we see a Royal Navy ship pass by.

Royal Navy ship on the way out to sea

After the obligatory circumnavigation of the Horse Sands Fort we head in a south westerly direction to No Man’s Fort, a 23 bedroom hotel with a helipad (yours for only £4.25m), almost identical to Horse Sands Fort.

No Man’s Fort

After lunch at Seaview on the Isle of Wight, the tidal stream changes direction and we head north westerly across the shipping channel to North Sturbridge buoy in the middle of the Solent. The wind picks up further to F4 and it starts to rain heavily, being driven into our faces for about 15 mins. There’s nothing else to do except keep going and head back to the launch spot.

The sun comes out as we arrive back in Browndown and we have some homemade macaroons supplied by Cathy, to celebrate a successful trip across the Solent and with a few historical sites along the way.


I Really Dislike Paella: Shoreham-by-Sea to Rottingdean, April 2021

On Saturday morning we drove down to Shoreham-by-Sea nibbling on bacon rolls and arrived at 9am – possibly one of the quickest trips to the coast.


The meeting location was marked by a lighthouse on Shoreham Harbour. Tudor, Olwen and Cathy were already at the (free) car park unloading their boats having got owner of the coffee van on the beach to unlock the 2m height barrier to let them in.



After getting changed and moving the boats down to the water, we had a safety briefing covering the rules of the harbour that the harbourmaster had kindly sent to us (at the same time as confirming no launch fees would be due). Launching at 10:10 am we follow the right-hand arm of the harbour wall out to the sea. Once out of the harbour the wind picked up to force three. We paddle for 40 minutes south looking for a southerly cardinal marker. We arrive at a buoy at 10:50 am but it is not a cardinal marker. We get quite confused, but on checking the GPS see that it is actually where we are meant to be to turn Eastwards.

The planned route was to follow three more yellow buoys spaced about 1.5nm apart, but somewhat disappointingly, none exist. As we approach Brighton Marina a sailing regatta was underway but luckily moves away before we arrive. We head towards Beacon Mill, Rottingdean – a Grade II listed windmill from 1802, now restored as a seamark on top of the hill above Rottingdean. Arriving at the beach at 1 pm.


We have a slightly longer than planned lunch break, a lie down on the pebble beach in the sun next to a gorgeous long white cliff. On the way back we decide not to retrace our steps but go on the same bearing without going out to sea. Although about 8nm away, we can actually see Shoreham Harbour from our lunch spot. Closer in to the beach we come across a lot more boat traffic including a bunch of jet skis.


Arriving at Brighton Palace Pier (also Grade II listed), we see a fairground ride flinging people into the air at an alarming rate, see a large number of people gathered on Brighton beach and a large pole with a bobble on it. Olwen advises us that the bobble goes up and down and is actually a bar.

After passing the old pier and beach huts we paddle back to Shoreham with a surprisingly strong tidal flow. In fact the whole trip was quietly surprising: a fast trip down, a lack of buoys, sunshine, a quiet beach for lunch, beautiful white cliffs and most surprising of all: how pleasant it was paddling on the south coast, even in a fairly built up part of the coastline. Then just to emphasis the surprising-ness of the day, near Shoreham, we see some graffiti that announces “I really dislike paella”. Definitely surprising.

Resources for planning Thames trips in extreme weather

Please see this pdf for more details.  We hope to upload a post – where the links can be click-able.


COVID-19: Safe Paddling with CKC

COVID-19: Special Protocols for Safe Paddling with CKC, June 2020

Now that government restrictions have eased and our governing authority, British Canoeing, have also updated their guidance, we are able to get small groups of kayakers back on the water.

We are planning to re-start kayaking on the Thames shortly.

To do that we need to put in place some new protocols to continue to keep us all safe.

The principle of our new protocols is to minimise spread and prevent infection. The new protocols are summarised as follows:

  1. You must NOT join in with any paddling trip if you had any symptoms of respiratory illness (or other symptoms listed by the NHS guidance that could relate to a COVID-19 infection) within the previous seven days.
  2. You must NOT join in with any paddling trip if any member of your household has any of these symptoms currently (you should be in a quarantine period for 14 days).
  3. Sharing of clothes, equipment must be kept to an absolute minimum.
  4. Equipment that has to be shared must be cleaned down before and after use by the individual using that equipment.
  5. Physical / social distancing guidance applies at all times.
  6. Hand hygiene measures continue to be very important and hand sanitiser will need to be brought and used before and after each trip.

To assist us in the above, we would like to ask you to arrive wearing what you will paddle in, including your own windproof/cagoule/anorak (as changing rooms are out of use and all time indoors must be minimised).   It will be fine to wear something that is windproof more than water proof whilst it is summer. For example a walking waterproof or shell jacket will be fine.

Please also bring the following items with you:

  1. Wet-wipes or (better for the environment) two wash rags/cloths and a bag to contain them in. You will need to use these to wipe down the equipment and put them in the bag to take home and wash at 60 degrees so they can be reused.
  2. Disinfectant spray, non-bleach variety. This is to be used for wiping down equipment.
  3. Hand sanitiser / alcohol hand gel for personal use.
  4. Dry bag with a change of clothes and space to keep your valuables.
  5. Lights for your kayak.
  6. Something warm to wear (layers work best) and something rainproof.
  7. A snack and some drinking water.

Please see the Calendar, Training & Trips page for the specific details of what you need to bring and the COVID-19 specific logistics for each paddling trip.

COVID-19 Logistics at The Arches

There will be no access to the changing rooms and kitchen (in Arch 1) and time indoors has to be minimised. We will be allowed to use the loo in Arch 1 – the pair of toilets will be allocated to CKC to start with and we will be responsible for cleaning them at the end of each session, and obviously between users! CKC will have bleach in the club cage for this purpose. Members will need to use their own wipes/cloth to wipe down the seat, flush handle, sink taps before and after use, then take your wipes/cloth home after use. Please remember not to flush wet wipes down the toilet they are not biodegradable and clog up the old toilet plumbing.

The Thames leader will put in place a system of collecting equipment that is needed (i.e. boat, spray deck, buoyancy aid, paddle) to prevent more than two people being in Arch 2 at any one time.

The kayaks will be taken straight to the foreshore to be set up there and in places more than 2 metres apart. We will only be going out on the water when the tide allows there to be a foreshore/beach. It is here that the equipment will be need to be cleaned down before and after trip.

On the Water

The Thames leader on the day will be giving a clear briefing on the new systems and new rescue procedures. These include not rafting up or sharing food/drink while on the water.

If you need to do a rescue while paddling, it must be either a self-rescue or the swimmer needs to be towed to a beach. No assisted rescues are allowed.



Getting Ready

  • Get your personal items & dry clothing together in a dry bag
  • Wash your hands with your alcohol gel
  • Pair up with a carrying partner
  • Using 2m distancing, enter Arch2 as directed by the leader
  • All kit is numbered. The leader will tell you which number to use, then select the kit you need with that number (e.g. spray deck, cag, paddle, BA) for paddling
  • The leader will record the kit numbers. If you come again, use the same numbered kit
  • Get one kayak down and put all your items in the cockpit
  • Take the kayak to the foreshore
  • Return to Arch2, do the same for your partners’ kayak
  • With both kayaks on the foreshore, prepare kit as follows:-
  • Take each item of kit out, separately spray with your cleaning spray and physically/mechanically wipe down all surfaces with your cloth. Put the cloth back in your bag
  • Wash your hands with your alcohol gel
  • Put on kayaking kit ready for paddling


  • Go paddling!
  • Remember while paddling:
    • No rafting up or sharing of food or drink
    • If you need to do a rescue it must be either a self-rescue or the swimmer needs to be towed to a beach
    • No assisted rescues allowed!

On Return

  • On return, remove all your kit on the foreshore
  • Take each kayak individually to the bottom of the slipway
  • Hose down and clean each kayak with the dirty brush
  • Take the kayak further up the slipway where a bucket of disinfectant solution will be available
  • Use the disinfectant solution to mechanically clean all kit: scrub down all kit, as well as cockpit rims and hatch covers
  • Return kayak & kit to Arch2 using correct exit/entry system
  • Wash your hands with your alcohol gel