Hambleden weir is the main focus of the clubs canoeing activities, after the rebuilding of the main sluices in 1996 there was no white-water worth paddling on the main section. Following pressure from Chalfont Park Canoe Club the Environment Agency have modified the bed of the weir with some adjustable ramps to provide white water in the weir pool once more. We are very grateful to the EA for the work they have undertaken on behalf of all canoeists.
Paddling on the weir
Disclaimer:- Canoeing is an adventure sport, canoeing on weirs can be dangerous, no indication can be taken from the information provided here as to the suitability of the weir for canoeing at any time. You are responsible for your own safety and assessing the risks involved on any particular occasion. Chalfont Park Canoe Club and it's officers can accept no responsibility or liability for any accident, incident, loss of or damage to persons or equipment as a result of the information provided here.
Small surfable hole and associated wave train on one gate open. Warning, avoid here if both sluice gates are open (or half open) as a strong re-circulating eddy can trap you up against the weir sill wall.
However, it almost always runs through the summer months as an easy play spot for beginners. There is a large weir pool to recover boats and paddlers. Recommended for beginners, whitewater training in summer and slalom training.
Main Sluice Gates:
Main sluices paddling ranges from good on one open, to awe inspiring on four open!
Exercise caution and inspect first before paddling, the ramps have produced some unexpected water features.
Read Canoeist magazines review of the weir here.
Flows at right angles to main weir stream below main sluices. Can be open throughout the season. It can offer an excellent rideable hole on one or two open sluices for the experienced paddler. Powerful and retentive it forms a hole within the concrete stanchions (intimidating)....it demands respect but is often a superb playspot when there is not enough water to open the main sluices. Definitely a good hole BUT INSPECT FIRST from the weir catwalk. Beware of the shallow sill. If it looks rather sticky avoid it, especially at high flows. It will trash you! Experienced paddlers only!
The Bottom Radials:
Can produce an excellent wave with strong shoulders at the right levels. Since the expansion of Hambleden Marina over the last few years they have rarely been opened as it causes scour and excess current in the mooring pool of the marina.
All the above can be inspected from the weir catwalk overhead. It is a public right of way.
In 1996 as part of the modernisation of the weir the 8 remaining manual sluices (one had already been turned into a fish pass) were removed and replaced by 4 electric sluices, as part of this process the entire superstructure of the weir was removed and replaced. Following this rebuild there was no paddleable white water on the main section. Once this was discovered Chalfont Park began the process of trying to get the EA to undertake the work required to restore the water conditions. In 1999 the Environment Agency agreed to fund a feasibility study into restoring the water conditions. This was undertaken at the University of Nottingham and Chalfont Park members attended on several occasions to provide paddler input and review the scale modeling that was taking place, in February 2000 a report was produced. The report detailed a number of changes that could be made to the weir that would create a wave train below the main sluices. In 2000 we got the EA to commit to implement the proposals in the report. During the winter of 2001-2002 practical tests were undertaken and these confirmed the results of the Nottingham testing.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED?
Work has taken place to install ramps or “kickers” in the weir, “half rounds” have also been installed above the sluices to smooth the flow and provide a more consistent wave. The work was finished in September 2002.
WHAT HAS BEEN INSTALLED?
In each of the four sluices a concrete ramp of about 16 deg has been fixed to the weir apron, on top of these a hinged steel plate is fixed. The hinged steel plate is adjustable between the 16 deg of the base concrete ramp and approx 28 deg. The adjustment of the steel plate is currently by pneumatic bellows installed between the plate and the concrete base.
HOW WILL IT BE USED?
The adjustable plates will provide fine tuning of the ramps to provide the best water conditions at all levels when there is enough water to open the main sluices.
WHAT IS IT LIKE?
Under most "normal" conditions there is a wave train that can provide good paddling when 1, 2, 3, or 4 sluices are open even without the use of the adjustable ramps.
HOW TO GET THERE?
Free public parking and access are available from the south bank of the river from Remenham Hill on the Henley road (A4130) via Aston Lane. Turn off the A4130 towards the village of Aston, at the Flower Pot Pub fork left, drive to the end of the lane and park above the public slipway in the gravel car park next to the river. Paddle 500 yards up river (i.e.. left) to the weir.
Whitewater canoeing has taken place in the weirpool since the late 1940's largely on a recreational/training basis. It was the training ground for the British Slalom team over numerous world championships during the 1950's and 60's and for the 1972 Olympic team destined to compete at Augsburg, Germany. The site hosted at least 100 national ranking slaloms over the period 1951 to 1996 (from Novice to Premier and Div 1). Numerous slalomists from beginners to top national ranking paddlers and world champions (in kayak and Canadian disciplines) have trained and competed at this weir using the adjacent Chalfont Park Canoe club as their base up until 1996.
In 1990 five massive oak posts were erected in the weir pool to suspend slalom gate lines for competition and training purposes. These posts are still there to this day. In 1996 the main sluices on the weir were re-built. As a result of the new weir design the once excellent whitewater was lost. Significant canoeing on the weir thus effectively ended. In 2002 the E.A. installed underwater ramps to the bed of the weir and thus restored the white water and made canoeing possible again.