GUIDE TO THE RIVER CAM
(Haslingfield and Shelford to Clayhithe Lock)
NAME OF RIVER: River Cam.
WHERE IS IT?: Cambridge. Map.
Put in: Newnham Mill (pub for after-trip refreshments). This puts you on the Lower River for the Backs and a view of all the colleges; for the Upper River use the same point, but after going downstream a short distance bear right for a portage next to the sluices. No parking close by; suggest after unloading to take the car about mile on the A603 towards Sandy for free roadside parking.
APPROX LENGTH: Recommended out and back, so choose your own length. Downstream, worth going to Clayhithe lock, about 9 miles return, after which the scenery gets really boring. Upstream, canoeable in all conditions to Byrons Pool, Trumpington (where the poet swam), 6 miles return. Above Byrons Pool (portage), I have ventured as far as Haslingfield (western branch) or Shelford (eastern branch) before getting fed up with dragging the canoe over the shallows! Each place is 3 miles further upstream.
TIME NEEDED: 2-3 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: River Cam Conservancy license up to Byrons Pool, but when we rang them up they said not to bother if it was just a day visit for a couple of people. Above Byrons Pool, private water, but no objections were raised .
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Regulated downstream of Byrons Pool.
GRADING: I very placid.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Locks to be portaged. On the Lower River, past the colleges, incompetent people in punts after mid-morning; below Cambridge, fast and angry men in rowing shells. Do NOT attempt the river between Jesus Lock in Cambridge and Baits Bite Lock a couple of miles downstream in afternoons in term time! You may have right of way but will constitute a thundering nuisance and get thoroughly sworn at.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Above Cambridge, placid rural river through meadows, tea-gardens at Grantchester with landing stage not far from Byrons Pool. In Cambridge, spectacular views of colleges and their gardens. Below Cambridge, a willow-lined fenland canal.
OTHER NOTES: Weve done the sections below Byrons Pool recently, but above that was undertaken 45 years ago things may have changed!
CONTRIBUTED BY: David Wilson, also David Savage.
Please add feel free to suggest more - I'm not sure of the minimum playable level yet.
The EA gauge for Byron's Pool (
Current gauge: 0.45. Both gates open, small eddy next to the left hand gate as you look at the sluice (river right, I guess).
If there's no eddy, you'll probably struggle to get onto the wave there. If the eddy is entirely absent, that probably means both gates are fully open and you can get a very large and nasty recirculating stopper. Hopefully as the river goes up and down this month I'll be able to add to this!