Wolvercote Loop

Five of us met at the boat shed on Saturday morning to spend the day paddling around the waterways of Oxford and sampling the delights of The Plough Inn. The five consisted of Jen, Penny, Rob, Nick and myself. As we left the sun was shining down on us and we were all in high spirits. Penny was having her first tourer experience and was getting to grips with manoeuvring the longer boat. We made our way up to Osney Lock and as the Lockkeeper was there we went through- a treat not to have to get out and portage our way around. I sneakily hung on to Jen's boat to avoid the slimy chain and enjoyed the Lock experience. Our journey continued onto the Canal and we enjoyed the still, calm water as we decided which of the large houses backing on to the river we would like to buy if we won the lottery. After a long paddle we made it to the Plough Inn and a well deserved rest and lunch. A quick check on the phone informed us we had won two more Olympic gold medals, GO TEAM GB! I ordered a sausage baguette which when it arrived appeared to be a foot long sausage! Obviously a number of dodgy photos were taken which Jen promised not to put on the website (yeah, right). After a very pleasant hour sitting outside at the pub with conversations of crocodiles, anacondas and Penny's amazing travelling tales we thought we should continue on our journey so we began to get ready for the off again. We had a quick swing on the rope swing first then got our boats and ourselves back on the water.

In no time at all we were getting out again and portaging around the Lock into Duke's Cut. Jen practised her balance beam on the lock gates. Penny was graciously seal launched into the canal and we were on our way again. The paddle through Duke's Cut was beautiful and really enjoyable until... the rain began! We posed for a photo by a large sign saying 'Danger'and soon realised that the most dangerous thing around was the four of us trying to line our boats up for the photo! We made our way through King's lock. Again the gates were open so in we went, and again I held onto Jen instead of the slimy chain (she was beginning to notice by this point!). As the rain continued we took shelter under the A34, not the most glamorous of spots!

We reached Godstow Lock and went through with a couple of other kayakers. Still, I had not had to hold that chain! The rain was continuing to pour, the sky was getting darker and the waves were swelling. Well, perhaps it wasn't quite that dramatic but there was defiantly water falling from the sky so Jen and I stopped to put on more suitable clothing. Penny, Nick and Rob bravely continued in their t-shirts. Two minutes later the rain stopped and the sun came out, typical. Here began a full ten minute whinging session from Jen... "I can't believe it stopped raining," "I hate this stretch of river," "Effing Port Meadow, goes on forever, every bend makes you think you're there." Thank goodness it started raining again and this lifted Jen's spirits no end! We made it back to the home straight. Rob practised his stern rudder continuously. Penny was shouting for joy, "I see Donnington Bridge!" and we arrived back at the boat shed tired but proud of our achievement.

A fantastic 11.5 mile paddle and a great day out. My shoulders ache today though!

- Su

Photos by Jen.