Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Something for the weekend?

Despite the fact that April was the wettest it has been for at least 100 years, the River Kennet continues to record "notably low flows" and, indeed, in the last year has acheived a record low figure of just 53% of its long term average (see here for the April CEH hydrological survey).  However, all is not lost for paddlers.

By comparison to this time last year (see the chart at the bottom of this post) the Kennet at Barbel Bar is about 10cm higher, which means that there is plenty of water to float a boat!

Direct access to Barbel Bar can be made from Arrowhead Road in Theale.  For through-touring, access from the Sulhamstead loop via Draper's Osier Bed Stream is possible given sufficient water levels.

Draper's Osier Bed Stream may provide access to the riverine Kennet above Barbel Bar...

...but if the weir at its head near the end of the Sulhamstead loop is not covered on all of its sills then there's probably not enough water to paddle it.

For other riverine sections of the Lower Kennet reach, levels shoud also be sufficient to explore the backwaters this weekend. Despite the fact that the coarse fishing season opens on the 16th June, and that the earlier warm weather will have encouraged early spawning by fish species such as Barbel, care should be taken to avoid contact with any gravel river bed sections where young fish may still be developing/emerging.