Sunday, 21 February 2010

Benham Weir potential hazards, late-February 2010

For anyone taking the riverine detour from Benham Weir down to Newbury (see the earlier post on the Middle Reach of the River Kennet), please note a couple of potential dangers at the point where the river exits the canal.

The first is the bar across the bottom of the fish ladder, should you be so tempted.  At the current water levels it's almost obscurred by the flow, but it's definitely still there.

It's easy enough to just shoot the main weir.  Subject to inspection, the second gap from the left is probably the best choice, as it will take you away from the centre, where it's still shallow enough to support plant growth on micro islands below the weir, and away from the heavier flow out from the right hand sluice.  Alternatively, climbing over the tow-path and putting in on the ditch stream to the left of the fish pass should be relatively easy.  In either case you will still need to cross the turbulence from the main sluiced outflow to proceed downstream.

The fish pass wasn't designed for paddlers and includes a steel bar across the bottom.

The view downstream from the left of the weir.

If you opt to put in downstream of the weir it's probably safer to pass to the right of the old concrete pillbox, as it's footings to the left continue to to be undermined by the action of the water flowing out of the main sluice.

The flow out from the main sluice at the right of the weir...

...continues to erode the footings of the platform around the pillbox.