Sunday, 11 March 2012

Strainers on the Southcote Loop

Water levels are currently sufficient for paddling the riverine Kennet loop that runs roughly parallel with the Navigation below Southcote Weir (click here for a map).  However, as you exit the weir pool on the main channel to the left, and just after a shallower side channel rejoins from the right, there is a thicket of overgrown and dead branches spanning the watercourse at a very low level.

The potential strainer could be portaged via the left bank, but unfortunately there is no public access on that side of the river...

...and whilst on the right bank there is a public footpath, it borders a steep high bank both before and after the tree debris.  Eventually the bank height decreases and there are several access points if they are not occupied by anglers (although it's usually pretty quiet here).

Fallen trees are always a problem along this section due to poor riparian management, as witnessed by the amount of snagged fishing tackle.   About halfway along there is currently another tree in the river, which prevented further upstream paddling in January this year.

If the trees were properly cleared the Southcote Loop would provide a relaxing detour from the navigation...

...but it's worth exploring whatever end you start from.