Launch Site – Shalford, west side of the bridge on Broadford Road

At around 10am a few of the team met on the grassy verge next to the side of the road on the west side of the bridge on Broadford Road in Shalford.

Our mission was twofold, one to get the team together face to face and to get to know each other a little more before next years expedition and two, to continue the training which for some meant… START the training.

It really has been a strange year and the pandemic and associated lock downs have made the wider get togethers a little more awkward as none of the team are in the same “bubble” and the rules have prevented too much in the way of socialising. If you’ve never been on an expedition like the one we have planned you may think the getting to know each other bit is a little lame and non essential but for us we see it as incredibly important as when we’re out on the River Amazon, wild camping, and away from main stream civilisation there will almost undoubtedly be occasions where we have to rely on each other. Knowing each others strengths, weaknesses, character, mental fibre, likes and dislikes etc may all come in to play.

During this session Neil introduced Sarah to a few of us that had been on some of the previous training sessions. Sarah was a little apprehensive at stepping out on the board for the first time but in no time at all had found her feet and was well in the groove. We were also joined by two others, Debs and Katie; one helping Neil write a book and the other an Olympic Gold medalist. Will one of these be the person that fills the final empty spot in the team? time will tell…

The River Wey is absolutely stunning. The waters on the stretch between Shalford and Farncoombe, are quite still, with very little current to fight against or push you along. The river banks have delightful walkways, with many trees / woodlands and fields along the way. There’s plenty of wildlife to see, and some rather nice riverside properties (if you like that sort of thing).

The river itself on the day we were there, wasn’t too busy. There were a number of canoeists and kayakers, and just a handful of other paddle boarders. There were also a number of barges, and locks, we encountered as we headed towards the Boat House at Farncombe.

After a brief refuel of refreshments at the cafe there, we headed back downstream to our starting point. It wasn’t a gruelling paddle,  and it wasn’t a race, though when Neil came hurtling through one of the bridges and raised his oar above his head declaring “I’ve beaten an olympic gold medalist” we couldn’t help but chuckle.

Mission accomplished… the next is in June and we’ll be doubling the length of the journey. Can’t wait.

Here’s a few pics from the day

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