I DUSTED off the kayak for the first time this year today and yes it was good to be back on the water. Today’s task was to pick up where I left off before winter rudely got in the way; kayaking the upper River Yare two hour chunks at a time.The first leg last October saw me go from just above the old mill buildings in Lakenham to Harford Bridges. Two weeks later it was Harford Bridges to Cringleford. Today I went in just upstream from the mill building at Cringleford (pictured). From there you peep into the extensive back gardens of houses on Colney Lane before river and road veer apart on the approach to the UEA. As ever the river provided its own nature show. Grey wagtails balanced on the weir close to the mill while a green woodpecker yaffled from the trees. Further upstream I’d like to claim both sedge and reed warblers but I’d only crumble under cross-examination, such was their camouflage among the reeds. Rather bizarrely I saw six policemen on the Cringleford stretch. Four were following up reports of boys playing with a lifebuoy (slow crime day was it fellas?) while the final two were cycling along the riverside footpath. (“Well the rest of the patch is the Larkman so yeh, it is a bit more peaceful.”)
At the UEA, the river heads west with only a narrow strip of land between the river and the university lake. A basic slipway close to a footbridge (pictured) here meant I could get out and stretch my legs among the dozens of walkers doing the same. Further upstream things got even busier at Earlham Park with kids piling into the water to cool off. And whereas I am used to being the only craft on the river, today I was one of four. Canoes and kayaks are definitely becoming more popular. Come and join the fun before the river gets too crowded.
* Access on this stretch is easy. At Cringleford, get down to the river on the Eaton side of the bridge. A footpath quickly takes you under the A11 and brings you right next to the river. That footpath continues all the way. You could get in from the UEA too or even via the new-ish access road to the hospital. Next stop for me? Colney to Bowthorpe.