From The Cunning Man pub down the River Kennet, through Reading town to Blake's Lock.
Total distance: 7.1 km
Date of track: 4.8.2018 Start time: 16:00:44 End time: 18:06:34 Total track time: 2h 05m 50s
See map below for geotagged photos (mouse-over camera icons), and to download the GPX
After a pub lunch at The Cunning Man on the River Kennet I was waved off to make my journey home down the river. First under the pretty Burghfield Road bridge and 1.3km through barge-lined countryside to the, easy to portage, Southcote Lock. It’s then another 1.3km to the next lock, under the railway and past Fobney Nature Reserve on the right. Fobney Lock is a difficult portage. I chose the right bank and regretted it as there are kissing gates. The left bank will be more direct, but the flight of stairs on the other side are unavoidable. However, in its favour it is an interesting old industrial arrangement.
Beyond Fobney Lock there is a pleasant 1km stretch with tall rustling trees before the A33 dual carriageway marks the beginning of Reading urban area. Over the next kilometre, warehouses start to dominate the left bank and then the gardens of terrace houses line the right bank, all with unique ways of abutting the water. It’s less than a kilometre to the next lock, County Lock, just after passing under the oppressive 40m wide ring-road bridge. County Lock is quite easy to portage, but remember to press the button for the traffic lights before getting back in your craft on the other side! The next 500m through Reading town centre is narrow so river traffic must take it in turns. I had to wait for about 15 minutes here, but there is a small weir to play with to pass the time. With the green light I was swiftly through Reading’s riverside area, passing numerous restaurants, a ‘beach bar’ and the townsfolk enjoying the sunshine.
A couple of hundred meters further down and the river splits. I took the left channel to pass the ruins of Reading Abbey and the Olde Reading Geol. I finished my journey at Blake’s Lock where a friend helped me carry my kayak across to the other bank to dry while we enjoyed a refreshing pint or two at The Fisherman’s Cottage.