A quick paddle and wild camp on the River Hamble

A little camping trip down the river....
So the idea was, in planning and preparation for a longer trip, for Tom and I to take the paddle boards and lightweight camping kit down the river Hamble and practise our wild camping and paddling skills - but thanks to the purchase of a new kayak (for the family of course!) and the fact that the winds were picking up and would make SUP's a bit difficult to handle when fully loaded with kit we opted for both double kayaks; the real benefit here was that we could "overpack" without too much of an issue as we had carrying capacity aplenty!

A quick note on the kayak's...  
Tom's kayak is a Perception Gemini Scooter and mine is a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T - both double kayaks and great for the family - to explore the river and local coastline that we're so lucky to have around us.

Time and Tide waits for no man...
We'd picked the weekend of the 3rd/4th June as the tides were perfect for our trip - the plan was to set of late afternoon when there was enough water to put in from Botley Mill and then be back mid morning on the Sunday (5th), making the most of the double high tides around the Solent area.
Saturday 3rd June 2017

Sunday 4th June 2017
We had a rough idea of where we might attempt to bivvy for the night but as we had only really looked at the OS map for the area and not scouted out the bank in any detail we decided that, as time and tide was on our side, we'd just paddle down the river and find the right spot.

Final checks before heading off
Kit was packed (yes, I did make a list!) and everything strapped onto and into the kayaks and after some final checks and Tom complaining about the mud on the launch ramp we started our paddle up the river, against the incoming tide and into the wind!

Checking out the overnight potential
The boats were handling nicely despite being designed for two and only having one person paddling in each - the extra weight from the camping kit helped to stabilise and balance the front I think.

Kit, in summary, consisted of;
Hammock (DD superlight) x 2
Tarp (DD again)
Overnight things including windproof and warm layers
Small hand saw
Gransfors small hatchet
Jet boil
5Ltrs of water
Sleeping bag x 2

Testing, Testing, 1, 2.....
"Radio Check"
Whilst not essential on a river, as we were paddling on a tidal river and potentially out into busier shipping channels we took marine (5w) radios with us on the trip, tuned into Ch12 and Ch16 - the added benefit being that we could switch to lower power and use them to communicate with each other if required while we were exploring for our camping spot.

Camping location "found"
After a fair bit of paddling around and searching various spots that looked ideal from the river we found a good spot at the edge of a small inlet that allowed us to paddle our boats very near to the spot we'd chosen allowing us to haul them out and up the bank away from "prying eyes".

Tea's up....
All set and ready to cook
Setting up camp is one of the best bits of the whole camping experience me.  We had to do some minimal clearing of the brambles around the site that we'd picked but other than that and selecting 3 suitable trees to hang the hammocks from there was no real hard work to do - it's just all about getting things set up correctly and efficiently so you're not messing about when it gets dark or starts to rain.
On the subject of rain, as we'd finished setting up the hammocks and I'd shown Tom the few useful quick release knots that I favour for their set up a few spots of rain started to fall, blown in by the breeze that had been against us during our paddle along the river - so we opted to pitch the tarp as well - it had the dual purpose of sheltering us for cooking while also providing a nice camouflaged backdrop to anyone looking in from the river and would mask our bright kayaks nicely!

So with camp set all that was left was to ket the kettle (or Jet Boil) on for a cup of tea and think about cooking our tea on the Trangia whilst listening to the various river and woodland animals and the small waves of the river lapping against the banks a few meters from our campsite.

Wakey wakey, rise and shine!

Morning comes early when you're outdoors, although as I usually get woken up about 5:30am by my darling daughter I slept right through to 6:30am!  Tom, however, woke at 5am and tried his hand at a spot of fishing from the bank - unfortunately there was no fish waiting for me to fry when I woke up but we had some custard creams left to have with our cuppa so all was ok with the world.

In stark contrast to our idyllic setting on the bank of the river we awoke to a message from my wife informing us of the horrific terror attacks that had taken place in London that previous night, follwed by another message from her simply saying "what is going on? stop the world, I want to get off".
Something sombering to think about as we went about striking camp and packing the kayaks up again for our short paddle back up the river with the incoming tide back to Botley.

The river Hamble, before anyone else is on it!
All good things must come to an end....
All in all we had a great paddle and overnight trip and learnt some good lessons on kit to take, how to pack and ways to locate and pitch a quick efficient campsite - lessons that we hope to put into practice again soon on a longer trip along the Basingstoke Canal and Beaulieu River

A quick #goproquik video from our trip

The 2 legs of our wild camping paddle - recorded on my Garmin Forerunner 935XT


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