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Great Ouse and its Backwaters Trip
March 13, 2022
Organiser: Peter Ward 07841014366 Leader Judy Podd 07931575633
The Travel Details. Meet at 10am at Huntingdon Riverside Long Stay Car Park. PE29 3RP
Lunch & drinks needed
Route: Huntingdon Riverside – Brampton Mill – Marina Backwater – Cooks Backwater – Huntingdon Riverside.
Distance: 7.25 miles
Note: This trip follows on from our Medway paddle and provides interesting features and wildlife along its route. We will paddle on both sections of wide navigation water that can be exposed in strong westerly winds, and narrow backwater that can only be paddled easily, early in the season before the reeds grow back.
Water: Flat moving water on the River Great Ouse and its Backwaters.
On Route: One lock with a simple portage. Four weirs to play in for those with suitable skill levels, but dependent on water levels.
Boat Types: Open Canoes. Kayaks; touring, cross-over, white water.
Paddlers: If you are a new paddler and are unsure of whether your skill level, stamina or equipment is suitable for this paddle, then please contact Judy to check in advance.
Personal Prep: This is an early spring paddle, layer up under those dry suits and don’t forget those pogies! Lunch: Bring your lunch to eat on the go. There are some sheltered wooded areas suitable for a short picnic stop on this route.
Licences: You need to be either a BCU member (please display your Number) or purchase a licence for £10.50 from Anglian Waterways. More details can be found here
Toilets: There is a Café at our car park which controls access to the public toilets but these might not be open when we arrive. It is recommended therefore to make your prepaddle toilet stop at the Cambridge Services just before joining the A1307 Use the old A14 (now A1307) and pass around the Huntingdon ring road to the car park.
Parking is free on Sundays. There is a height restriction barrier of 2.25 metres. On entering the Car Park, park as close to the Huntingdon Boat Clubs building as space allows.
• This Figure of Eight Paddle provides us with the luxury of not having to do a shuttle. • Get yourselves kitted up and ready to paddle. • When moving your boats to the launch area be careful as the pontoon can be slippy underfoot because it is frequented by ducks and swans.
10:45am Launch from the riverside pontoon.
Paddle Route: Stage 1 (10:45) – 2 miles – Paddle up river, under the Huntingdon old bridge towards Godmanchester and portage the lock. Just before the lock, keep a look out on river left for a cut to a small weir. If it’s running, there’ll be the opportunity for a little play. Continue up river to the Brampton Mill. If the earlier weir was running, then leave Brampton Mill on the right and follow the upstream navigation to play in a weir on river right, before then returning to the mill.
Stage 2 (11:45am) – 1.75 miles – Leave Brampton MIll on the left to pass into a small backwater known as the marina. Now travelling down stream, beware of a steel footbridge collapsed across the river. It is possible to paddle over it, but do so with care. On passing back under the railway arch, look out for a backwater on river right. It looks quite over grown, but taking this route rather than following the main stream to the left, will save you from a slightly difficult portage later. River left will however afford you the view of some nice riverside properties should you wish to take it. (if you do, then the exit is on river right just before a sluice gate – large pole driven into river bank to help you climb out. Pass below the sluice gate and rejoin the main River by taking a right, to leave the A1307 behind you, now paddling upstream for 400m along a stretch that you paddled earlier.
Stage 3 (12:20pm) – 2 miles – Leave the main navigation and take a left to pass under Cooks bridge and paddle under the A1307 down Cooks Backwater, once again paddling downstream. At the first fork in the river, take the right channel. (The left channel can also be taken to reduce the distance of this loop should it be required although it hasn’t been recced) Pass under the low farmers bridge and continue downstream passing a weir on river right, that might be worth exploring if the river levels are high, until exiting into the main River Great Ouse Navigation.
Stage 4 (13:45pm) – 1.5 miles -Take a left turn on exiting Cooks Backwater to paddle upstream back towards Huntingdon. If the wind is westerly, choose the side of the river that provides you with most wind protection to paddle back to the ‘Get In’ point.