River Wey Guildford to St Catherine's Lock Canoe Trail
This canoe trail involves three portage points and you are going to paddle up stream to start with i.e. away from the bridge which has the word NAVIGATION across it. At times of high flow the locks are padlocked and the waterway is closed to all navigation. Before you set out make sure you have the right skills and equipment for this trip and that you have checked the river and weather conditions. This is an easy trail in normal river conditions. Information correct as of April 2014.
Riverside, Bellfields or Wey Kayak Club
For this trail you are going to paddle up stream to start with i.e. away from the bridge which has the word NAVIGATION across it. As soon as you leave the bank you have countryside on your left and a wide variety of houses to your right. The river meanders gently towards Guildford Town centre.
As soon as you leave the bank you have countryside on your left and a wide variety of houses to your right. The river meanders gently towards Guildford Town centre. The first bridge you pass under is the A3 and from then on in to Guildford there is a mix of countryside, pretty bridges, historic and industrial buildings. On your right just after the A3 bridge is Woodbridge Meadows. These natural meadows have some amazing wooden sculptures in them and they are well worth a look.
A few hundred yards further on the left is Dapdune Wharf and again it is worth a look. Keep a look for other boats on the blind bends at this point.
Dapdune was one of the first wharves established on the Wey Navigation and one of the busiest. Just a few years after the Navigation opened, London was devastated by the Great Fire of 1666. This created a huge demand for timber to rebuild the city and so wood became one of the most important cargoes to be transported downstream to London. In the 1890s, the Stevens family moved to the wharf and established it as the main boat yard on the navigation.
As you come in to Guildford the river appears to branch left and right. Debenhams will be on your left and it’s the right hand side you need. Go under the footbridge and up to the sluice. This is your first portage by Millmead Lock. Portage across the island (an easy get out) and put in clear of the lock. There is a narrow boat hire company on the opposite bank next to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre so do watch out for narrow boats. After a short distance the river bends sharply right. On the opposite bank is Guildford Rowing Club and also look out for rowers.
From here on you leave Guildford and head off into open countryside and the river continues to meander. If you are interested in geography there are some good examples of oxbow lakes here as well as other geological features created by the river.
Damsels and dragons
During early summer, it may look like the only flying insect on the River Wey is the damselfly. There are hordes of them - beautiful Demoiselles, Banded Demoiselles, Large Red and Common Blue damselflies fly in abundance along the towpath at the river's edge.
Paddling along you will then come across a wooden footbridge, then a fork in the river. Take the right hand side as this is the main river channel, you have the option to return via the channel to the left and this is where you will come out. St Catherine’s Lock is reached a few hundred yards further on. The lock is portaged on the towpath side and you may see the Highland cattle on the adjoining water meadow from this vantage point. The scenery is very rural and peaceful between the passage of trains on the nearby mainline. Back on the water; continue a few hundred yards, passing a weir on the left before the railway bridge. To return to Guildford, land on the grassy bank between the weir and railway bridge to portage about the weir and transfer into the natural river course. It is a 50 yard portage to the get in point immediately below the weir. Take care as the water can flow quite quickly with a back eddy.
St Catherine's Lock
St Catherine's length runs from the once industrial hamlet of Broadford, past the disused railway line that never was, curving round the sharp bends under St Catherine's Hill, giving you a glimpse of the golden sands that gave Guildford its name to Millmead Lock in the centre of town.
Riverside, Bellfields or Wey Kayak Club
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