First Paddle of 2013 – Flood Paddling and Bulstake Stream

The Isis and Bulstake Stream – Sunday 6 January 2013

There is no better way to wash out the cobwebs of Christmas and New Year indulgence than to go for a paddle! So Sunday 6 January saw Paul Richards, Hilma, Simon, Adam, Tom, Su and Stoney go for some Port Meadow flood paddling and then down the Bulstake Stream on the way back to the watershed. This trip was a first for some of our paddlers as they had never paddled Bulstake Stream before and was also the first Isis trip for ‘The Trig’; Su’s shiny new boat.

Once boats, kit and people were loaded, we headed to the car park by Wolvercote Common and launched. After all the rain over Christmas and New Year, the common and Port Meadow was still flooded and river still flowing well. Since launching by the car park put us on the river below Godstow Lock, we avoided the ‘danger’ talk by the lock keeper that we received on the November flood paddle; however the lock did have a big red ‘River Closed’ sign on it (surely meant for motor boats – see photos from Nov 2012 flood paddle!). We made our way leisurely downstream past Port Meadow, under the Rainbow Bridge and towards the entrance of Bulstake Stream, occasionally waving to people trying to negotiate the flooded towpath (and getting their legs / feet very wet). We normally have to portage around the first bit of the weir at Tumbling Bay as there is not enough water to shoot it; however today it was a very different story. Not only could we shoot the first weir but there was a nice wave to play on too (the second weir was washed out). After play time was over we carried on downstream taking all kinds of convoluted routes to get round all the trees; this proved to be good tree avoidance practice for Stoney! We soon came upon the playground in Botley and a few of us took the opportunity to (temporarily I may add) regress in age and have a play (sensible people had lunch!). Simon had a go on the slide and the swing in his kayak; however only the very start of the slide video was recorded as the camera was running out of battery, much to the disappointment of Simon (the landing was quite impressive). We got more video of the swing though… Those of us who has a go on the roundabout found it pretty difficult to hold on, especially when you have 3 people pushing you!!

Back on the water, we continued to make our way downstream, had to limbo under a bridge (normally we have no trouble getting under it), and paddled round a further bridge after deciding even the skinniest person wouldn’t be able to fit under it. We were soon back onto the Isis and headed towards the Tunnels of Doom. A quick inspection suggested there was enough headroom to get under the first tunnel so a few of us went that way. Embarrassingly for the author, he got stuck on the pipe halfway along (in true Stoney fashion) and swam out of the other end of the tunnel! After re-boating, we then carried on past the boathouses and soon reached the watershed. Thanks to all for a really great trip.


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