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Commuting by Kayak

Commuting along the canal

Tom Hards is fortunate to live and work close to the towpath of the Stroudwater Navigation.
He used to commute to work from Stroud to Stonehouse by running or cycling along the towpath.
Tom comments… “This traffic free and almost direct route is ideal, and the occasional sight of a kingfisher, cormorant or heron is more than enough to offset the stress of the office before getting home. The bus journey, aside from the £3 fare, isn’t nearly as scenic or soothing”.

Navigable route revealed

Tom recently found that the excellent tree clearance work carried out by the Waterway Recovery Group between The Ocean and Bond’s Mill over the Christmas holidays had opened up a stretch of canal navigable to small craft. Tom became the proud owner of a slender all-purpose blue kayak complete with a paddle and buoyancy aid following a late-night Ebay session… “all this for for the ‘bus-busting price’ of £30!”

Cotswold Canals Trust Photographer Mike Gallagher recently accompanied Tom on his homeward journey

Tom takes the tube

“An interesting feature is the steel tube beneath the railway at the Ocean. This is not nearly as daunting as it appears. The local wildlife use the same tube and do a good job of keeping it clear. So long as one doesn’t meet a swan paddling in the opposite direction, the transit is swift and straightforward.”

Tom explains, “The journey itself is uncomplicated, with only the two locks at Dudbridge and Ryeford Double Lock to carry the boat around. The canoe & boat landing stages at Ryeford make getting in and out of my kayak a lot safer and easier when portaging around the lock chambers, especially on dark & cold mornings at 7am. It’s always difficult to leave behind the peace & tranquillity of the waterway to walk the rest of the route to work in the Oldends Lane Industrial Estate, for another day of ‘keyboard-jockeying’. But it’s nice to look forward to the return journey too. 

Highlights & sunlight

“The highlight for me is the ability to get closer to the wildlife. That includes looking down into the water with a head-torch to see fish pooling about, or being buzzed by bats near the textile mills. I really enjoy the adventure and exercise during the week. Savings on the bus fares can then be spent on large breakfasts. 

“As the days have got longer recently I have been treated to some lovely sunrises and sunsets. I look forward to seeing the canal change through the seasons. “This trip would have been a grand expedition a few years ago; fighting through under (over) growth, shallow and soupy water, infills and blockages.
Now the restored canal can be used as part of a daily commute, which is remarkable. I have to say well done and thank you to everyone involved.”

Find out more

Click here, or on the icon below, to find out more about commuting by kayak, or simply paddling for pleasure

Final words of advice from Tom

“The Stroud Valley Canoe Club are active locally,
Always wear a buoyancy aid and check if you need a licence”