The Isis 10: Hinksey Stream and Isis Tavern

Second time lucky for this trip after some rainfall meant the backwaters should be more navigable. 'Should' was the optimal word here because after shooting off down the stream next to University boat house, we immediately encountered plenty of undergrowth and some shallow sections. We developed a strategy to get through the reeds though, keeping our paddles vertical and forcing our boats along.

We soon made it to the bridge over Abingdon Road and scooted underneath and past Hinksey Park. It was sad to see that the only places we really encountered any grotty patches were where we could see the human influence, litter and random objects either thrown or blown into the water. The most startling of them all was a rubber glove which was reaching out of the water in eerie fashion giving me a bit of a jump thinking it was a dead hand reaching for me from the deep.

We made our way under the railway lines in a creepy, low tunnel and emerged on the other side to come across what can only be described as a challenging ditch - basically the water got slowly shallower and shallower. We saw fish and tadpoles, robins and toads, all the little bits of nature that you would never normally see and which is hidden from us due to its remoteness in the woods. At one point we paddled under a bridge with a rather bemused old man on it who warned us 'there be monsters here', or at least told us that we couldn't go any further because the water would run out. We smiled and thanked him for his advice, but clearly he had no idea just how stubborn Isis CC members could be and we paddled on. Just around the corner we realised what he meant as the water started to disappear. Our paddles disappeared into the silt. Our boats came to a stop.

But on we shuffled until the water appeared again. By this time however, we had accumulated immense amounts of mud on our boats and faces, cobwebs in our hair, and random bits of nature in every possible crevice you could think of. Our final ditch hurdle was a tree blocking our way. In a desperate last push we decided to carry on in our boats, we couldn't get out at this point - that would be giving up. So we pulled, pushed, and eventually feeling rather proud of ourselves, we reached Hinksey Stream.

The remainder of the paddle was a joyful bimble down Hinksey Stream lined with reeds and yellow iris in bloom, back under the railway lines and down past the railway tracks until we joined onto the Thames. We managed to gather some spiders and snails, and even managed to see a myriad of damsel flies and a huge camera-shy heron take off.

Our goal, the Isis Tavern, eventually came into sight after Iffley Lock and we got a well-earned drink in the beer garden while watching bigger boats pass by. An absolutely fantastic afternoon in the sunshine and we made it back to the shed well before the heavens opened. Brilliant!

- Jen

Photos by Jen.