GUIDE TO THE RIVER THAMES
(Old Windsor Weir)
Old Windsor Weir, River Thames.
Old Windsor weir is located 20 miles west of Central London between Windsor and Staines, just to the east of Old Windsor Village (SU 9885 7542).
The main weir consists of an L shaped weir. The upstream part of the weir (running at perpendicular to the flow) features a row of 8 radial gates creating a series of narrow surfable waves.
A few years ago Old Windsor weir was a regular venue for slalom competitions and a popular play spot. With the decline in slalom and the rise of new school play boating, the weir is now little used and generally considered unsuitable for the latest play boat moves. Whilst not in the same league as Hurley or Shepperton, it does offer a good introduction to powerful boily water and has some, albeit limited, interest for the modern play boater.
Terry Griffiths (Feb 2004)...'Decline of weir for slalom was due to access problems rather than lack of slalom interest.'
Gauge and levels information
Paddlers rely on a visual inspection to see how many gates are open. One radial gate equates to 1-2 gates at Hurley.
Directions and parking
From Windsor: Head out on the A308 towards Staines. When you get to a roundabout with the B3102 to Datchet, keep going on the A308 for a hundred yards and turn left into Church Road. After another 500 yards and a left hand bend, turn left again into Ham lane. When you get to the iron bridge over the lock cut, park and paddle 500 yds upstream/ to the left and you will fide yourself upstream of the weir.
From Staines: Exit at junction 13 on the M25. Follow the signs for the A308 (Runnymede Road) towards Windsor. Drive through Runnymede (open grass land next to the Thames) and over a mini-roundabout. Continue past the roundabout for a further 1/2 mile and turn right down Church Road. Directions continue as above.
The weir features a row of 8 radial gates, with two groups of smaller gates on either side. It is best to wait until there is at least one radial gate open before bothering, for which the Thames needs a reasonable flow (there must be at least one gate open at Hurley weir). Each radial creates a long, fast and narrow wave, where one can front surf, loop and (just about) flat spin. The weir is at its best when just one radial gate is open, in which case the wave is at its biggest and the eddies are more manageable. As more radial gates open, the weir pool level rises and the features become smaller and eventually flatten out.
When the Thames is at lower flows, the surfer's right/ river left set of small gates sometimes produces a useable stopper. It is good for practising side surfing skills and not much else. There is some dubious subsurface ironwork, responsible for a few broken paddles and ripped dry cags over the years. At certain levels the stopper can be very sticky and closed in. This is an option for the keen (or desperate).
Theft from cars parked by the lock used to be common - so be careful.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Andy Levick, also Terry Griffiths.