Sunday, 22 May 2011
Kayaking the Yare: Part Five
EVERY day thousands of Norwich commuters come off the southern bypass at Trowse and drive into the city on an extended bridge across two rivers. And every day for the last eight years this particular commuter has stared down at the mix of the river and railway to his left and thought he really must go exploring one day. I finally managed it yesterday.
The rivers are the Yare and the Tas. And the best place to get the kayak into the former, is at The Cock in Lakenham, a welcoming riverside pub with a packed beer garden yesterday afternoon. True, the many “Drugs will not be tolerated” posters were a tad off-putting, but everything else was perfect. The remains of Lakenham Mill mean you can’t go upstream from here (but there is another way) and the water is very shallow downstream. But within a hundred yards you get deeper water and come across the sort of Claude Monet scenery seen in the top photo.
Heading downstream you shoot the main railway line which is – brilliantly - known as the Bridge of Sighs – even if you will have to click on the photo (right) to get documentary evidence. From there you pass under the much taller bypass bridge before being pulled up by floating barriers just upstream of Trowse Mill. The restrictions imposed by Trowse and Lakenham mills do make this a slightly frustrating stretch but as ever
there was a great “getting away from it all” feeling, surprisingly close to the city. Blue, black and red damselflies flitted everywhere, a swan fiercely saw me off his territory and Flag Iris bloomed. And that – give or take the odd 100 yards – means I’ve done the Yare from Bawburgh down to its confluence with the Wensum at Trowse Eye.
Heading back there was a web of other more modest channels to explore. It quickly becomes clear that the only one going anywhere is the River Tas. Looking at the map afterwards one assumes that the Victorians must have dug a new route for the Tas alongside the railway here. I didn’t get any further than the bridge carrying the Lakenham to Caistor road, but at least I know where to start next time. With the Yare ticked off, the Tas has to be next. It has inspired poet Cameron Self to write “River”, and the Norfolk fisherman John Wilson describes its waters as “gin-clear”. Watch this space.
* Lots more Kayaking Kapers on the Yare here.