Kayaking on the Thames – microadventures of summer 2016

The best adventures start at homeAs the great adventurer Alistair Humphreys’ writes, you do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to undertake an expedition. You do not need to be an elite athlete, expertly trained or rich to have an adventure.
Adventure is only a state of mind.”

Of course, sometimes it helps to know what you’re doing, but adventures don’t need to be expensive or in far flung places. And when you think about it, many of the best adventures start at home, even if that means packing and heading off to the airport.

Last summer, as part of one of their special offers, Lidl had an inflatable kayak on sale for a meer £30, not exactly a barrier to a bit of fun. Although we missed the opportunity to get our hands on one, it sat at the back of our minds until a few weeks ago when Ollie decided to spontaneously purchase one on Amazon. Although not as cheap, our mid-range kayak is still inflatable which will provide us with a wealth of opportunities to get out on the water regardless of where we are.

Kayaking on the River Thames

Setting a drift in Cookham


Living near the River Thames in Windsor as well as a number of watersports lakes, we definitely don’t need to trundle far to have an adventure. And, planning our first outing, we didn’t want to venture too far from home. Waking to a sunny Saturday (surprising given the weather we’ve had so far this summer) and the wind appearing to be fairly calm, we jumped at the opportunity to take it for a spin (or is it paddle? Too used to cycling).

We headed for Cookham, a small village in Berkshire, close to where I grew up and therefore somewhere I know fairly well. Why here rather than Windsor? Well, I knew there was a good slip way at the Ferry Restaurant which would allow us to get into the water easily. And more importantly, there is the very quirky Bounty Pub, a mile up stream and only accessible by boat, foot or bike; a perfect place to refuel.

Our 2 man Sevylor kayak has 3 chambers, purposefully picked so that should we get a puncture, we won’t immediately sink! This does mean however, a fair amount of inflating, and by foot I hasten to add. Once erect, we boldly entered the water looking as though we knew what we were doing and were soon travelling up-stream (and up-wind) on our little adventure.

Kayaking on the River ThamesIt took a while to get comfortable and we still have some work to do to find a position we’re both happy with – maybe we should have spent a little more and bought a boat attachable seats, but we’ll learn to deal with what we have over time. We also set out with double-paddles each instead of splitting them. This was possibly a mistake as we quickly got wet and I took couple of hits to the head.

But, thankfully there were more laughs than tears and it turned out a great way to spend our Saturday afternoon, and the hard work was rewarded with some good food and good ale.

Having lived in the area for 20 years on and off, why haven’t I done this sooner?!

Why consider an inflatable kayak?
Space saving – Our 2 man kayak folds up into the box it came in – about the size of a lounging beanbag. This makes storing it that much easier as it fits into a cupboard/ garage/ spare room just like any other box.
Accessibility – Firstly, an inflatable kayak doesn’t need to break the bank. Secondly, being able to fold it up also means we can throw it in the back of the car, whether we intend to use it on our travels or not. There’s no need for complicated roof racks and still leaves room for the surfboards or bikes.
Stability – You may be surprised, but being inflatable means it’s extremely stable and harder to roll than a traditional kayak. So if you’re little more uncertain of the water, it’s a great way to start.

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