The Thames Valley just 20 mins to the west of London is blessed with some of the best freestyle paddling anywhere in the world. The opportunity is created by weirs which control the water levels so that in summer the river does not run dry and in the winter the river does not flood.
Here’s the weirs description….
HURLEY – Hurley Village 45 -90 Cumecs
First mention is the most famous weir, Hurley – this one is home to one of the longest running freestyle events in the world – The Hurley Classic and has been the training ground for the best British and European paddlers for over 30 years. Hurley works when the river is in moderate flows and has 4 main weir gates. On 2 gates the weir is good but it’s on 3 gates when people have fallen head over heals in love with the feature. It offers a bowl-shaped wave and to the sides two excellent powerful holes, excellent eddy service and a grassed riverbank to eat your lunch on.
MARSH – Henley on Thames – 160+ Cumecs
Marsh is a wave that was built after a weir rebuild in 2008. It took a few years for paddlers to figure out the wave but now when the Thames is full the weir is a must. Its bigger than Hurley with 8 large weir gates. It works on less than 8 but 8 is where best conditions ensue. A symmetrical crested wave 50 meters wide at about 1.5 meters high. It’s a perfect ground for learning tricks in conditions that stay the same throughout your sessions. You tow on here and although the towing takes a little learning most paddlers get it within a few goes. Here people can watch as a public path crosses the river here. Expect to be on here with 3 or 4 friends!
SUNBURY – Sunbury on Thames – 160 -200 Cumecs
Built in the same time frame as Marsh the weir has a similar base but as we have got closer to London the river has picked up volume. The run in to the weir is also a bit cleaner so the water runs faster. Guess what – a bigger wave of up to 3 meters high and a paddle on set up. Variable levels mean you never quite know what you’re going to get but the weir has provided some of the best Thames days. Often there is a hole behind the wave, so you need your wits about you as for come off the back. No public here as this one is a bit pout the way.
SHEPPERTON – Shepperton – 100 – 140 Cumecs
Shepperton used to be one of the best but in a rebuild we lost its reliability. But its 5 mins from Sunbury so always worth a look. When its in, it is a perfect bowl wave that’s unlike anything you have ever paddled. There is a pushy eddy and a couple of hazards to avoid so Shepperton takes a bit of nerve but when you’re on that wave it matters little, and you’ll feel the buzz this place gives. Perfect for spectators with a bridge across the top and side access through a local Slalom club. The eddy pumps your forearms as it’s a push pull affair. Expect to get the massage gun out on those!
BOULTERS - Maidenhead – 140 Cumecs Plus
Boulters was rebuilt in 2004 and the rebuild killed a wave that was renowned in the UK. Our Head Coach Jacko was fundamental in getting the wave reinstated and over a 12-year period worked tirelessly to eventually get something better than the original. This is a big bouncy, powerful wave. Anything goes here but it can also recirc for a giggle and bobble you up 10 -20 meters down stream of the wave. Don’t worry too much though as we have now even SUP’d this wave and everything here is a hoot. Viewing difficult but video is easy from the bank.
JACKO’s SECRET SPOTS - Thames Valley
Over the last 30 years Jacko has paddled the Thames at every level. This gives him the unique local knowledge to know many places to paddle. They remain secret spots as you need to understand weirs to safely paddle these. With Jacko’s knowledge safety is absolute
Around the Thames we are blessed with great features but for this BIG WAVE WEEKEND we are really looking at Sunbury, Marsh, Shepperton and Boulters as these are the biggest features. Of course, weather is the dependency so our fall back will be Hurley. We will hit as many weirs as possible and paddle up to 7 hours a day… These will be long days!
For UK based paddlers who paddle Hurley regularly we offer the chance to book on the provision that it’s the big waves. For non-UK based paddlers who may incur travel costs Hurley is world-class so this is our fall back. You should indicate when booking that this is ok for you.
The weekend has a huge depth of coaching, so the cost is a bit higher than normal at £185 per head. This does not include accommodation, food etc. Accommodation is easy at Travelodge economy hotels in either Marlow or Maidenhead. We can help with booking this.
When booking you’ll also need to indicate if you need transport to get around as although this is not included, we should be able to cover this. Flights into Heathrow are best and we can collect you from there if you need this.
TRIP FEE - £185
This does not include accommodation, food etc, but we will be happy to help with these.
I JUST LEARNT TO SPIN, CAN I JOIN?
We do not look for world-class paddlers (hopefully we will help you become one). We look for motivated, passionate and open-minded individuals ready to commit to a full-on week that will transform your paddling and develop your thinking! A solid roll and basic freestyle skills make you a potential Burner! It is your mindset that counts. Expect to be pushed hard.
WHAT SORT OF STUFF DO I NEED TO BRING WITH ME?
Sleeping bag, documents (ID, passport…), some pocket money, your favorite board game, a book, an open mind, lots of motivation… oh, and your kayaking gear might be useful too 😉
MY ENGLISH IS NOT THAT GOOD... IS THIS OK?
Can you think of any better opportunity to study English over the summer without even noticing it? Sessions will be run in English but in case you don’t understand or you have any questions, our coaches do speak French, Spanish and Catalan. Other Burners may be able to help you as well. Don’t worry, we will find the way to understand each other and your English will improve by the day!