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paddlers on the Thames  

Frequently Asked Questions

Please email us with your questions and we will answer them directly.

Q. Are there any ways round the locks except going through them?
A. Yes, particularly where there are boat rollers. These exist at: Iffley Lock, Boveney Lock, Sunbury Lock, Molesley Lock and Teddington Lock.

Q. Can you paddle different lengths at different times and therefore not in sequential order?
A. Yes

Q. Where can I buy or hire a kayak for a charity paddle down the Thames in the summer?
A. The best place to buy Kayaks is on Ebay. You could also try www.kayakojacko.com or www.longridge-uk.org. See also Marsport Reading RG30 6AY, Thames Valley Park Dr, Reading RG6 1PQ T: 0118 966 5912.

Q. My husband and I have single seater sea touring kayaks, and I wonder how we might manage the locks but, it might be very difficult if we have to exit each lock and portage every thing around each one! We are quite experienced kayakers but have never been through locks.
A. Kayaks are ideal. On the Thames you always go through the locks and almost never round them. In fact there are only a few portages where you can get in and out of a Canoe without a heart stopping one metre drop. We always thought about 6” off a landing stage was about right and there are a number of these.

When we did the Rally we had absolutely no problem going down the locks (which is why I planned it that way) . The Lock keeper will signal to you when to go into the lock and follow their advice. Then you can get them to sign your log book. They will then close the lock and you need to hold the chains to stop drifting.

Do get the Thames Book we recommend as this tells you everything (including the portages) and helps as you go along. We really relied on the book although it frustratingly goes backwards. (London- Lechlade)

If you find the lock closed you will often find a narrow boat or someone to help. (NB be aware if there is no spare lock keeper they will take an hour off for lunch (usually 1-2pm) – There will be a self help board up to show that the lock is not manned. We just stopped and had our lunch until the keeper came back.

Everything you need to know is on the Visit Thames website.

Between April and September: the Rally period in principal the locks are mostly manned all day see below:

With the exception of Teddington Lock, which is manned 24 hours a day, lock keepers on the Thames are usually on duty during the following hours:- 09.15 - 16.00
April: 09.00 - 17.30
May: 09.00 - 18.30
June to August: 09.00 - 19.00
September: 09.00 - 18.00 (18.30 at weekends)
October: 09.00 - 17.00
November and December: 09.15 - 16.00
Locks are closed for lunch between 13.00 and 14.00 every day except in the summer, when 'Summer Assistants' may be on duty in some of the busier locks.

Q. Where can I get my boat in and out of the River?
A. At the start of the Rally the Lechlade Park launching is easy but the first stage of the Rally is harder as there are no convenient roads that cross the Thames with a spot where you can park your car and put a canoe in and out of the water. Indeed there are only two spots for taking the canoe in/out of the water (easy for a car to park).

At 6 miles from the start at The Swan T: 01367 810 220 (Radcot Bridge A4095). Click here for a birds eye view. You must talk to the Publican who is very helpful and follow his advice. You must not put boats in the water from the car park as this ruins the bank.

At 17.5 miles The Rose Revived 01865 300 221 (Newbridge A 415) -
click here for a birds eye view. You must talk to the team who are very helpful and follow their advice. The best place is beyond the pub at the end of the lawn. You may be able to use the landing steps at the end there. There is a little lane round the back of the pub off Morton Lane which takes you to the right spot.

We used two cars, one at the start and the other at the finish of each piece and had to plan our route accordingly.

Other places you might use are the Canoe clubs along the Thames.

Otherwise we identified the following:
Bablock Hythe – The Landlord is very friendly but get permission.
The beach by the country park just after Godstow lock.
Oxford Riverside Centre by Donnington Bridge Oxford.
Clifton Hampden just beyond Bridge LHS.
Shillingford (just by the bridge).

Always check each spot and ask permission where appropriate.

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