Exploring a new part of the river Avon you haven’t paddled before is always exciting. You never know what you may find as you explore it, so when a couple of friends planned a return trip from Saltford to Bath, I just had to get involved!
I met up with Rob Yates and Dean Broad on the banks of the Bristol Avon at Saltford on a sunny September day. With the promise of warm weather and a potential stop point for burger and chips, things were looking good!
We decided to take our Red Paddle 12’ 6” Explorer boards with us, for me the choice was easy as I hadn’t paddled it for a few months due to teaching on smaller boards, so having a touring board for the day is a nice change.
We packed a few essentials like drinks, money, phone, spare layers and buoyancy aids, tucked them in to our storage cover on the front of the boards, and headed off upstream to the weir. A couple of us decided to climb up the weir with the boards, which although seemed a little daft at first was actually very easy with the water levels low, but you could also just get out by the lock and walk up the steps.
The river above the weir has got a flow in the summer months, but it is very slow and easy to paddle against. It’s surprisingly wide and straight too, which is ideal for rowing, and we did meet a few very friendly rowers getting their training in. You get so far along the river, then you hit a weir with another lock. This one is not for climbing, so up the steps and on to the canal we went, just down from a busy pub called the Dolphin. Just a short paddle along this popular canal spot, and you’re back on the river and heading into Bath.
You get so far along the river, then you hit a weir with another lock. This one is not for climbing, so up the steps and on to the canal we went, just down from a busy pub called the Dolphin. Just a short paddle along this popular canal spot, and you’re back on the river and heading into Bath.
It’s a really nice calm paddle as you reach Bath, with an amazing bounty of Blackberries on offer, only accessible from the river though! Lots of bridges cross the river as you arrive in the city, some simple iron ones and some stunning stone ones, just as you expect from a national heritage site.
Our final stopping point before we turned around was the Pulteney weir in Bath. It is well worth the extra bit of paddling, stunning views of the bridge and surroundings masked the busy touristy area. From the river you get a unique view of an area that is probably photographed every day from the river banks! We had a few people waving and taking pictures of us as SUPs are still new the river Avon. A positive and friendly attitude is always appreciated!
After soaking up plenty of this historic city’s atmosphere we turned and headed back downstream. We passed the Dolphin pub by, as it looked rather busy, and instead headed to the Boathouse further downstream which proved to be a great choice. Not only did they have a little slipway, but the burger and chips went down great!
Feeling totally relaxed, we got back on the SUPs and headed back down to Saltford. Talk turned to whether we would make it over the weir or not, and it was decided on arrival that we would wait for a little more water in the river before we attempted it. Stay tuned!