- King's Bridge to Woolhampton.
The River Kennet at Chamberhouse Mill
From the put-in on the canal near Thatcham rail station (see Section 2: The Kennet at Thatcham) paddle straight across the canal and up the channel which connects to the river, turning left and up to the road bridge which looks to be too low to get under. It is also possible to enter or exit the river right immediately downstream of the River Kennet road bridge.
Looking north towards Thatcham rail station, a possible but fairly pointless put-in, as you'd almost immediately have to exit.
Even in later summer low water conditions the road bridge is very low and passage beneath is 'problematic' at best.
At Chamberhouse Mill [SU 529 661] the mill stream flows straight ahead under a couple of low and surface-barred footbridges, and under the converted mill building and driveway to the private residences. To the left the main branch flows down a fish ladder followed by another surface-barred weir and a four gate sluice weir (both of which are topped by a low level foot bridge).
The fish ladder, weir, sluice at Chamberhouse Mill.
To portage left before the weir (and fish ladder) would mean climbing up the bank and passing through private gardens, so the river at this point is effectively made impassible to paddlers by these obstructions.
By-passing Chamberhouse Mill
Chamberhouse Mill Lane begins immediately after the bridge over the River Kennet between the left hand entrance to Rainsford Farm and the turn in for Thatcham FC as you travel south along the road from Thatcham station (150m walk).
Whether you walk from the station or have a shuttle driver drop you off at the start of the lane, walk past Chamberhouse Mill...
...following the right hand bend in the public footpath, and continue along it, turning left at the junction towards Crookham Manor (your shuttle driver could drop you here, but there is no unauthorised vehicular access beyond this point).
Continuing down the lane you will pass the Thatcham Angling Association car park for the Rainsford beat on your left, where a put in would be possible,...
...looking downstream from Rainsford beat.
...but, depending on occupancy it may be worthwhile continuing a few meters further to where the river nearly meets the roadside. From Thatcham station to this point is a 1km walk. A new fence and gate has been erected by Crookham Manor, but the public footpath continues along the road, only veering away from the river just before the private residence.
Downstream from the put-in before Crookham Manor
At the end of the run past Crookham Manor, and after only 400m or so, the river branches in two [SU 538 659].
Thatcham to King's Bridge - Northern route
From the divide the River Kennet flows north and then east for 2.4km (1.5m) to Kings Bridge via Brimpton Mill.
The river then travels for 1.6km (1 mile) until it flows into the weir pool below the main weir outflow from the northern arm just before Brimpton Mill. According to the OS map there are four bridges along this section; the first one is no longer in existance, and none of the remaining three carry public footpaths or provide public access to the river. There are also a number of trees that currently block the surface to through navigation on this section (particularly so just below the sluices), and until these are cleared some awkward portages would be required. Low summer water levels also remove this stretch from serious consideration as a year-round alternative route.
The pool below the main sluiced outflow from the main river. Not the railing at the top of the sluice in indication of the height of the drop here.
Looking back upstream, kingfishers dart and herons wade along the first stretch of this section but it's also heavily blocked by fallen trees and, other than after lots of rain, would probably require several walks along the shallow gravel river bed, so is probably best bypassed with the initial portage.
The bridges are just before a small 'weir' that has been formed by debris from the collapse of what appears to have been either a brick-built culvert or another older bridge.
Below King’s Bridge marks the start of the Wasing Estate’s Warren beat, along which there are no good access points for the rest of this 2.6km (1.6 mile) section.
Winter and spring views upstream from King's Bridge towards the mill race channels flowing below Brimpton Mill - no public access here and no navigable water.
There is no public access to the river below the bridge. If signs are anything to go by, the main concern of the Wasing Estate used to be illegal fishing with particular focus on some of our Eastern European guests...
If you want to stay on the water until the next river section, you have to paddle a 1.6km (1 mile) section of the canal to the separation above the Old Mill at Aldermaston.
The Kennet at Colthrop and Aldermaston Water
South of the Colthrop industrial area to the east of Thatcham, is a small loop of the River Kennet that flows out of the canal to the right through a sluice weir just before Colthrop Lock
It's not worth the effort of travelling to in it's own right, but it does provide a convenient parking close to the canal put-in point if you are intending to travel down to Aldermaston Water, and on to the main river above Brimpton Mill.
From the A4 drive down Colthrop lane to Gables Way. Turn right and at the roundabout take the first exit back onto Colthrop Lane. Drive over the railway line level crossing, and turn immediately left. The road is heavily potholed but follow it round to the right and over the canal on the wooden floored bridge. Grundon's Kennetholme Quarry is straight ahead, but turn right again and down to the canal. Pass in front of the row of cottages (one of which displays a nice variation of the 'tradesmen to the back door' sign) and park at the small area of land in front of the weir pool.
The weir at Colthrop was the scene of a lucky escape in 2008: see here (and in case you are completely lacking in imagination, see here!).
Aldershot Water is only around 265m long, and relatively shallow, but watch out for fallen trees.