Access to rivers in England and Wales.
For the backround to the debate over public access to the rivers of England and Wales please visit the website of the Rivers Access Campaign (but keep in mind the limitations imposed by it's sponsorship). There's also a post on "The politics of access to the River Kennet" on this blog.
Access to the lower reach of the River Kennet
Much of the land alongside the River Kennet is privately owned, which means that for several of the sections where sluices and weirs need to be portaged there is no way to progress without crossing expensive gardens and private grounds. Furthermore, much of the bankside on the lower reach of the River Kennet is divided into restricted fishing beats*, so it is unlikely that you will be readily invited to access alongside these. However, the proximity of the canal towpath and a few other public footpaths provide a way to get in and out along the route. There are also enough parking spots along the way to ensure that most sections can be accessed with reasonable regularity over the course of the river as a whole, and at reasonably close proximity to potential put-ins/take-outs.
Paddling on race days
As it is necessary to use the canal to access certain sections of the river please note the following dates and locations when you may encounter canoe and kayak racing (although there is also plenty of training carried out in the six months prior to the Devizes to Westminster race).
- Sunday 7 February 2010: Waterside A - this will only affect you if you are paddling in Newbury (the finish line is by the Waterside Centre). Watch out for swimmers.
- Sunday 21 February 2010: Waterside B - from downstream of the A339 road bridge in Newbury to Aldermaston Wharf and back.
- late February 2010 (TBC): Thameside 1 - from Aldermaston Bridge to the Thames along the canalised route.
- Sunday 7 March 2010: Waterside C - this will again only affect you if you are paddling upstream of the Newbury Waterside Centre finish line.
- Sunday 21 March 2010: Waterside D - timings and location as for Waterside C.
- Friday 2 - Monday 5 April 2010 (the Easter Bank Holiday): the Devizes to Westminster Race - obviously it will be the Friday and Saturday that will affect the Kennet.
DW practice on the Kennet and Avon Canal near Marsh Benham.
There's another, less well known, but just as worthy event held on the early May bank holiday. Crafty Craft is a charity raft race run by Newbury Round Table along the canal from Hungerford (or Kintbury for younger teams) down to Newbury.
Newbury Waterways Festival
25 July 2010: Canal boats gather next to Victoria Park, and the day ends by racing 1000 plastic ducks from Town Bridge to Wharf Bridge.
Adventure Dolphin, Newbury
A club to start you off on the Kennet if new to paddling, with a branch operating from the centre of Newbury. Please note that this blog has no affiliation with this organisation.
*Predominantly Newbury & District Angling Association (N&DAA), the Wasing Estate, and Reading & District Angling Association (R&DAA, who lease a number of their riverside venues from the Englefield Estate) with a few Red Spinner, Thatcham Angling Association, British Airways, CALPAC, CEMEX and CSAS sections.