If you hanker after a serene paddle in beautiful countryside on a non tidal stretch of water you don’t have to look far in East Sussex! Give the Barcombe Mills to Fish Ladder Falls (Isfield Weir) route a go!
I was introduced to this paddle along the upper section of the River Ouse by a paddling pal and was spell bound. Kayaks, SUP, Canoe, Sit on Top are all craft which can navigate this route – the only things to watch for are low bridges (a couple, one of which you can portage round – otherwise how low can you go?!), the occasional submerged branch and the odd bit of overgrown / overhanging shrubbery to paddle around! At this time of year there may be nesting swans and ducks and, in a wee while, their young – needless to say be respectful give them a wide berth! Likewise, any fishermen (fisher people?) Oh, and an automatic sluice gate! It does get busy with a variety of users in Summer but if you pick your times you can have an enjoyable paddle.
You may be lucky enough to spot swans, ducks, Canada geese, kingfisher, grey or yellow wagtails (haven’t worked out which!), dragon flies and damsel flies. There are also swathes of pungent wild garlic along some bank sides – you’ll smell it before you see it! There is also low hanging rope swing (not tested!) at one point for those who want to add a new dynamic to their paddling – or get wet!
Near the start point the car park at Barcombe Mills has a height restriction barrier in place so take care if you have boats loaded on their side using upright bars or on top of vans – you can unload at the entrance to the car park and then proceed if you need to.
There is a short portage from the car park along a track to access some launching spots, many hands make light work so if you haven’t got a trolley buddy up and lighten the load.
As you head out on the water past all the weirs (and a small bridge) etc you come to a fork on a wider stretch – the right hand side has a bridge to duck under, the left hand fork takes you to a shallow concrete lined stretch. Both meet up a little further on. The right hand fork may be the better bet.
After about a mile you will reach an automatic sluice gate – portage on the right hand side a walk of approx. 50m to then launch again.
The Anchor Inn is on the left hand side just after another bridge which you may choose to duck under or duck out of and portage round! I would advise use the right hand side bank as there is boat hire from the Anchor Inn and I’ve read of mixed reports of the welcome using the left hand bank!
Continuing you come to a fork – take the right hand. At the next split take the left hand. After a couple of miles or so you will hear the sound of rushing water, a giveaway that you have almost reached Fish Ladder Falls!
When rested and your picnic has been eaten you can set off, retrace your paddle strokes, and return to Barcombe Mills!
If this has whet your appetite our amazing Coach Sarah and Instructor Darren have organised a trip to paddle this route 12th June – see the Events Calendar for details!
Don’t miss out!
Author: CVCC member Julie Baker