GUIDE TO THE RIVER MARDEN
(Stanley to River Avon Confluence)
NAME OF RIVER: Marden.
WHERE IS IT?: Wiltshire. See below for more info.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Driving from Chippenham towards Calne along the A4, the road crosses the river on a left hand bend about a mile outside Calne, parking is limited here. The river is little more than a ditch at this point but we have paddled it from here a couple of times. The more usual access point is at Stanley which is sign posted to the left just after leaving Chippenham, there is parking near the river bridge, get on just below the small weir under the bridge.
There are several possible Egress points in Chippenham, the best place is probably just above the town weir on the left. There is pay and display car parking in the town nearby, to get there drive over the New River Bridge off the A4 (Avenue la fleche).
Best take out is on river left, just above Chippenham Weir, into a pub car park, about 100m after the impressive mill buildings on river right.
Alternatively save your parking money and make the trip longer by paddling down to Reybridge.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown, but we have never been questioned except by the occasional fisherman. But that's normal isn't it? The landowner at Stanley is generally pro-canoeist providing you are polite to him if you come across him.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS:
GRADING: Grade 1 with weirs.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Marden is a small tributary of the River Avon (Wiltshire), it flows from the hills surrounding Calne and meets The River Avon about a mile upstream of Chippenham. It is a tight twisty grade 1 river with a number of small weirs, a "zoom flume", a small waterfall and several boulder dams. None of the obstacles are dangerous, but watch out for overhanging trees.
If you get on at the bend on the A4, you paddle down a narrow twisty channel with a couple of small drops. Quite soon you will reach a high narrow weir on the left which I have not been able to shoot because of the shallow water at the bottom. After portaging the weir you pass through a sort of tunnel or drain would be a better description. This is quite fun because your voice echoes inside, so childishly you tend to make a lot of noise whilst passing through. Just around the corner is a small weir under a bridge, which drops out into a large weir pool with some sluice gates in it. The weir pool was full of fishermen last time we did this river and they gave us a lot of funny looks and frowned a lot. I'm not sure whether this means that they thought we shouldn't have been there or whether they had heard all the noise we had just made coming through the tunnel.
A little while later you reach the weir under the bridge at Stanley, this is the more usual place to get on the river. Years ago the Marden Descent Canoe Race started here, which was run like a whitewater race except you could enter in any boat you liked, including racing K1s, which was interesting to say the least. A hundred meters below the bridge there is a "zoom flume", which is a miniature version of the one on the River Frome, another tributary of the River Avon. Another mile or so of twisty stuff and you reach the small waterfall, which has a good stopper at high levels, then it's more twisty stuff with a couple of boulder dams and then you spill out into the River Avon. It's about a mile of flat water down to Chippenham.
OTHER NOTES: Sam Moore adds...(8/3/00) 'Just an addition, about 1.5 miles below the "zoom-flume" there is a brick bridge (the only one on the river). It has a fallen tree across it. In medium water it was possible to squeeze under is but if the water had been any higher it would have been a portage. And it is possible to seal launch from the river left downstream side of the bridge without bottoming out. (Testing this in the pitch dark was a little nerve wracking). A helmet would also seem compulsory given the proliferation of overhanging trees.'
Consider starting higher upstream in high water.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Martin Harrall and Sam Moore.