[please login to make this ad block disappear]
Playspot: England, River Thames, Hambleden Weir
What's it like
Hambleden Weir works from about the same time that Hurley Weir on the Thames starts working and washes out when Hurley is hitting peak flow. This is usually autum through winter into early spring although some summers there is enough rain to open a gate. The local canoe club have bolted pneumatic ramps to the weir sill to ajust the waveform that the weir produces, they are adjusted every sunday during the club sessions and remain so for the week.
There are four main gates on the weir which are or interest for kayakers which produce a wave/hole depending on how deep the weir pool is and how many gates are open. One gate is either a really flushy green wave or a half retentive hole if you get in the right place. Two or three gates are the best level creating a nice surfing wave, when the weir pool level rises this becomes more of a hole on the eddy side. Four gates produces a wide wave with no shoulders to speak of but most wave moves are possible, as the water level comes up the waves wash out.
The feature can be accessed from the river left eddy which is large enough for many boats but the eddy lines are very boily and can be trouble sometimes, this coupled with the large surgy wave train resusts in a beating every time you come off the back of the feature so it's probably not so good for people with less experience.
How to get there
There is no road access direct to the weir so you have to paddle to get to it or walk the boats up the 200m or so from the car park to the weir if the river flow is too strong to paddle against. This isn't really an issue until the weir is on a big 3 or 4 gates.
The car park is located next to the slipway in the village of Aston. The best route is coming off the M4 or M40 you turn off towards Henley on the A404. From here you take the exit marked Hurley. Follow the road past a couple of roundabouts towards Hurley (or Henley if you can't see a sign for Hurley, Maidenhead is in the opposite direction) until you pass a sign that says Hurley Village Only. Follow the road on for a couple of miles until you get to a junction with a small sign for Aston. This turning is right after a corner and hard to miss so keep your eyes out and the sign in small and also easy to miss so again be vigilant. Follow the road until the end past a pub on the left to reach the slipway which has a small car parking area big enough for about 7/8 cars. You can park here and put in at the bank then paddle up river (left) until you come to the lock which is on the left (eddy side) of the weir. The main gates where the fun is to be had are located right in the middle of the weir and the weir bridge is accessible to pedestrians so you get an audience usually. The other gates on the weir if they are open create walled in stoppers which are as hard to get into as out of so best stay away from them.
The locals are all very nice and usually stand around and watch for a bit. Sometimes there are fishermen on the banks of the river as you paddle up from the car park but they can easily be avoided. There is also a marina downstream of the weir and on the right of the small island downstream of the weir.
See also Andy's blog for more photos.
Nearest weather station (°C):