Day 25 (1st Oct 2013) – Reading to Aldermaston Wharf:

The paddlers were the same foursome as yesterday with the addition of Liam Heath, who won the bronze medal in the K2 200m sprint at the London 2012 Olympics. Liam brought his K1 kayak along and after some photos taken by a Peter Bloodworth, a photographer from the Reading Post, the lads headed towards the nearby junction of the Thames and the Kennet. Curtis decided to challenge Liam to a sprint race and after about five seconds Curtis was about five lengths behind and conceded.


The lads turned into the Kennet and Avon Navigation and went through a couple of locks alongside the ‘Hannah’. After leaving Reading behind there was a fairly long paddle to the next lock along the picturesque River Kennet. At one point Curtis spotted a pigeon who had thought it was a duck and was struggling in the water against the steep slope and leapt out of his kayak to rescue it. After the heroic act the bird shook itself, shat on his hand and wandered off. At the next river lock there was no way out so the boys waited on ‘Hannah’ and went through with her again. The day was a moderate eleven mile paddle but with around 12 locks, so the day was a collection of shortish paddles followed by portage around single locks. The locks on this section aren’t particularly kayak friendly as moorings are quite high making get-out a little challenging.

Eventually the foursome reached Aldermaston Wharf and the Kennet and Avon Canal Visitor Centre and Tea Room where they were greeted by Gary and Sam and family. They are usually closed on Tuesday but opened up especially for Gutless and the team and served up a lovely spread of tea and scones and a delicious stilton and broccoli soup. Word was received that ‘Hannah’ was stuck a few locks back with a lock gate that wouldn’t close and were waiting for the CRT technicians to arrive.

Paul’s wife Camille had arrived to take him home to Bristol so Justin and Alice, Stevo and Curtis retired to the Butt Inn pub for debrief and for Justin to be interviewed by radio Breeze FM from Newbury. A surprise was waiting for the crew back as David Bruce had organised a delivery of 40 litres of Mister Chubb’s Lunchtime Bitter from the West Berkshire Brewery. Good man David. The beer was a delightful complement to the pasta bake prepared for dinner by Olwyn after the ‘Hannah’ and been rescued from the broken lock. Curtis insisted to all who would listen that he would have beaten Liam if he’d had a K1 instead of ‘Little Red’.


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