The Isis 10: Mystery Paddle to Sandford

The mystery tours are starting early this year! Gone are the twilight launches and the fear of odd noises coming from the dark, but we've managed to keep some surprises, all except the destination which, as Pete pointed out, wasn't much of a mystery.

There were eleven of us in total and we set out in a mixture of solo and tandem canoes, and sea kayaks. The university rowing clubs were taking part in the bumps so we had to wait until one of the races had finished before we could set off, and were given ten minutes before the next race was to start, so we swiftly made our way up to Iffley lock before we were mowed down by blades and athletic rowers. A quick portage around Iffley Lock and we set off more sedately down the Thames. It was quite a Our first weir saw most of us portage around through a mass of nettles and trees, all except Simon who decided to climb down the weir without managing to swamp his boat entirely! The rest of us met him at the bottom and paddled around in the foam until we were all together again.

The next turning left saw us disappear into the undergrowth as the real 'mystery' part began. Through narrow tree-lined passages, over fallen trees, past a bird's nests complete with eggs and out the other side to be faced with a smaller weir which we were told we could climb up. I have seen this done before but there was more flow this time and as Simon attempted to step onto the main slope he got a jet of water up his trousers which told us all this was either going to be very amusing or a disaster. After a couple of attempts Simon decided that he'd prefer to sit in the pub in dry trousers so we portaged around past more nettles and got in just above the weir, back on the main Thames and only a stone's throw away from the pub.

After a couple of beers, including Val's which exploded in Niamh's face thanks to a pesky slice of lime, and a discussion about the finer points of roller derby, we finished our crisps and set of into the twilight. It was a more sedate paddle back in the twilight in almost silence through the still water...until Lewis broke out into song just before Iffley Lock which changed the ambience slightly!

Yet another lovely evening and who knew that there was such a thing as roller derby!

- Jen

Photos by Jen.