Saturday, 16 April 2011

River Kennet loop at Chamberhouse Farm, Thatcham

The approximately 3km (1.8 mile) riverine section of the River Kennet at Chamberhouse Farm, near Thatcham, is an ideal introduction to moving water, and is currently running with sufficient depth that, with a little care, you can easily avoid scrapping along its several gravel bars and banks, and is clear enough of overhanging trees to provide an uninterrupted run. 

Details of how to access this section from the canalised river can be found in the original guide post, and once you get there there's not much that has changed since 2008/2009. 

Exiting the canalised River Kennet river right just before Widmead lock, a small weir marks the start of this section (at SU 505 662).  Keep river left to avoid the trees to the right and the large gravel bank in the centre of the river below the weir.

There is no public access to the banks along this part of the river (although there is a path for anglers river right), but there are plenty of eddies to sit in in the wider winding first third of this run...

...if they're not full of detritus from the canal and vandalised footpath signs.

This section of the Kennet is ideal for easy touring and introductory paddling.  This Dagger Approach is a hybrid river running and touring kayak (from Berkshire Canoes in this instance) and is well suited to the River Kennet.

The Pyranha Fusion is an alternative hybrid crossover style kayak.

Where the river widens the gravel shallows can be easily avoided along main channel routes.  Although there is no evidence that canoeing and kayaking harms fish, this part of the river may later be used as a spawning ground by fish such as barbel (probably a bit too far downstream for most trout), which migrate upstream, and lay their eggs between May and July (see here).