(Haslingfield and Shelford to Clayhithe Lock)


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.

David Savage (BCU River Advisor / East Region RAO)...(Dec 2006) 'Don't be put off paddling from Jesus Lock to Baits Bite by rowers or their arrogant coxs. You have just as much right to be on the river as they have and I canoe it most weeks at various times. Keep to the correct side of the river and you should have no problems, but if you do, please note the name of the boat and the approximate time and I'll be pleased to take it up with the Conservators on your behalf.' This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.



Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: RIVER CAM (Haslingfield and Shelford to Clayhithe Lock) -- Franky
2015 Jul 05 08:00:30 PM
About a mile above Byron's Pool, the eastern branch towards Hauxton becomes unpaddleable, owing to the recent spreading of shingle on the river bed to aerate the water and encourage fish spawning. So the river flows faster but for stretches is no higher than ankle height. A pleasant paddle, but it no longer seems to be possible to get as far as Hauxton.
Re: RIVER CAM (Haslingfield and Shelford to Clayhithe Lock) -- Wadhamite
2013 Jan 29 11:13:48 PM
Calibrations for the play wave below the central Cambridge mill pond sluice gate:

Please add feel free to suggest more - I'm not sure of the minimum playable level yet.
Re: RIVER CAM (Haslingfield and Shelford to Clayhithe Lock) -- Wadhamite
2013 Jan 12 10:27:58 AM
On river levels - the Cam has one grade 2 feature (I say this very loosely), the sluice gate at the Mill Pond (the portage from upper to lower river). There's no gauge there, but I'm starting a set of calibrations for it, to work out when it's playable without having to cycle and check it out each time!

The EA gauge for Byron's Pool ( is the one I think would be best to calibrate against, as I think they open and close the sluice gate to drain Grantchester if there's a flooding risk.

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!
Water -- wave!
2008 Sep 14 07:58:38 PM
Dont drink the water, you will be sick! :o
Login to reply