Connors birthday Suprise

26 Apr 2011
Posted by admin

Have been thinking for while what we can do for my Boys 10th Birthday... Due to the long weekend (Royal Wedding) we have another 4 day weekend, so the plan is as follows.

a few pressies and a quiet family Birthday wednesday night after work. School Friends party on Friday at Buckmore Park GoKart racing (http://www.buckmore.co.uk), Then on Saturday morning of on a canoeing/camping trip for 3 days... see the trail below

The Trail

Leigh Barrier to Town Lock, Tonbridge (3km)
The launch site for this area is Tonbridge Slipway. Above this point you can paddle up to the footbridge just below the Leigh Barrier. Do not be tempted to travel above the bridge as the weir gates on the barrier can move at any time suddenly releasing extra flow. You can paddle around Tonbridge sports ground and also explore some of the smaller tributaries.
Downstream from the slipway is Tonbridge Town Bridge and Tonbridge Lock. At this point you will see a sign saying canoe pass with an arrow to the left. If your boat is unsuitable for the canoe passes, please use the canoe landing on your righ. Keep away from the orange booms. If you have used the landing stage, you will now need to cross the lock gates at the end of the lock and walk onto the purpose built landing stage.

Tonbridge Town Lock to Eldridges Lock (2.4km)
Paddle downstream under Cannon Lane Bridge and past the small launch point on the left (can be overgrown). The river now becomes rural as you leave Tonbridge behind. Pass under a girder bridge and eventually you come to Eldridges Lock. The canoe pass (new for 2010) is on your right-hand side. Alternatively, the portage platform is on the left hand side just upstream of the lock. Keep away from the orange booms and weir on your right.

Eldridges Lock to Porters Lock (1.6km)
Continue downstream and eventually you will see the orange booms of Porters Lock weir. Keep away from these and turn left towards the lock. At this point you have two choices. You can either carry on to the lock and get out on the portage platform on the left or you can slide down the new canoe friendly fish pass on your immediate right, just after the orange booms.

Canoeists using Porters Lock Combined Canoe and Fish Pass.

Porters Lock to East Lock (2km)
This section passes under Hartlake Bridge which is another launch point on the river. Carry on under the bridge towards East Lock. At East Lock you will see the familiar orange booms, go past these and you will see the portage platform in front of you. Alternatlivey, shoot down the new canoe slide just past the portage platform - still on your left hand side.

East Lock to Oak Weir Lock (1.2km)
This section is the shortest between locks, so it won't take long before you arrive at Oak Weir Lock. You will see the orange booms on the left hand side of the river and just ahead of that is the portage platform. When you get out here, you will find the lower portage platform is off to the left via a small path through the lock island itself. There is a large picnic bench here so it is a nice place to stop.

The canoe portage platform downstream of Oak Weir Lock

Oak Weir Lock to Sluice Weir Lock (2km)
After 500m you pass under Stilstead Bridge, then the river winds it way onwards to Wagon Bridge which is a steel girder bridge. After this bridge you will see a wooden footpath bridge on your right. Under this bridge is access to the Hop Farm camp site. A further 500m downstream is Sluice Weir Lock. To the right of the orange booms is a steep canoe pass. Note this pass is not suitable for long touring boats. For those not using the pass, you will see the portage platform ahead of you to the left, keeping the orange booms on your right.

Sluice Weir Lock to Hampstead Lock (3.6km)
After passing under two road bridges and a railway bridge, you will come to Stoneham Lock camping ground. If you are camping here, the best place to get out is just after you have passed though the lock on the right hand side.
After this, the river continues to Yalding. As you approach Yalding, you will see the distinctive orange booms in front of you. You have two choices here. Either get out on the right hand side just upstream of the booms, or continue around to the left with the Anchor pub on your left hand side. If you take the first option you will have to climb up the river bank then drop down the other side to a small stream (The River Teise) As you will see there is a good tea and cake stop here - this being Tea Pot Island. Once you have put your boat into the stream head to the left and you will appear into the weir pool. Carry on through one of the bridge arches and approx 50 metres further downstream is Marlin Canoe Club's campsite.
If you take the second option of turning left at the orange booms, you will see a low bridge in front of you. Pass under here minding your head. On your right hand side is Yalding Canoe Platform.
A further 500m on is Hampstead Lock. To portage this lock, use the standard portage platform on the right hand side just upstream of the lock and cross the upstream lock gates.

Hampstead Lock

Walk across the island and you can see the downstream portage platform and slipway. Hampstead Lock is also another launch point.

Hampstead Lock to Teston Lock (4.8km)
Paddle past the moored boats and then turn left where the other part of the river comes in. This section passes Wateringbury marina with boats moored both sides. Next you will find Teston Lock this time with the weir on the right hand side (orange booms). Use the purpose designed portage platforms on either side of the lock. Teston Country Park is another launch point on the Medway.

Teston Lock to East Farleigh Lock (3.2km)
After Teston Bridge the river continues around a very slow right hand bend. Just after this and on the right hand bank is Barming Bridge campsite. Carry on past here and you will start to see moored boats from the marinas at East Farleigh. At East Farleigh bridge go through the second arch from the left (as directed) then lift out on the portage platform just the other side. The lower portage platform is just downstream.

Paddling under East Farleigh Bridge

East Farleigh Lock to Allington Lock (7.2km)
This is the last and longest section of river down to Allington Lock Slipway. This is the most urban section of the river and is also the busiest in terms of motorised vessels. Keep an eye open also for rowing boats as they cannot see you as well as you can see them. Your sign that you have finished the trail is the sight of Allington Sluice and the Malta Inn on your right hand side. By this point you will see Allington Lock slipway and canoe launch point on your left.

The end of the trail - Allington Slipway and canoe launch point