St Patrick’s Stream is a delightful tributary of the Thames, near Wargrave in Berkshire. The stream flows from the Thames and drops about five feet over two miles, joining the River Loddon which then flows back into the Thames.
The stream has a decent, grade two flow in normal water levels, perfect for messing around in open boats or kayaks. We paddled it on a sunny Tuesday in early March, in a chilled out celebration of a friend’s birthday.
Our journey began on the Thames at Ferry Lane in Wargrave (access only, please don’t park and block the narrow lane). We then paddled upstream and checked out the weirs, before portaging via the campsite at Shiplake Lock.
Back on the main river, we headed upstream against the gentle current, amidst a lush landscape of fields, trees and the occasional mansion house. A few live-on boats were moored behind densely wooded islands, ramshackle escapees from the hustle and bustle of modern life.St Patrick’s Stream is on the southern, river right, side of the Thames. It is marked by a small bridge and a notice declaring that the route is ‘not suitable for launches’. Despite being fairly narrow, there is plenty of space for canoes and kayaks. Overhanging braches and vegetation are more likely be an inconvenience, rather than a hazard.
The gradient is quickly noticed, with the stream stepping up space as it meanders through fields. Fishing platforms are regularly placed along the river, but we had the river completely to ourselves on this midweek paddle. As with all coarse fishing rivers, there is a closed season between 15th March and 15th June each year, when you should not expect to find any anglers on the banks. Whilst paddlers and anglers can get along fine, I wouldn’t want to find myself navigating this stream if there were dozens of fishermen already using the water.
The flow creates numerous eddies and spots for practicing gentle break outs, and occasional overhanging trees require some positive steering. After passing the gardens of a few luxury houses, the stream joins the River Loddon. The paddler should head left, going with the flow past more, extremely nice looking, properties.
Eventually you rejoin the Thames, just upstream of the starting point at Ferry Lane. The George and Dragon is nearby if you fancy food and drink.
This paddle, and many other excellent kayak and canoe trips, is described in Peter Knowles highly recommended Pub Paddles – The Best Short Canoe Trips in the South of England