Waveney canoe trip explores scenic waterway

From left, Hugh Taylor, Olly Barnes, Simon Sparrow, Mary Matthews, Jacquie Burgess and Bill Dickson

From left, Hugh Taylor, Olly Barnes, Simon Sparrow, Mary Matthews, Jacquie Burgess and Bill Dickson at the start of the trip in Bungay. Picture: Hugh Taylor - Credit: Hugh Taylor

Two former mayors led a canoe voyage along a seven mile section of the River Waveney between Beccles and Bungay last week.

Bill Dickson and Simon Sparrow ‘afloat’. Picture: Hugh Taylor

Bill Dickson and Simon Sparrow afloat. Picture: Hugh Taylor - Credit: Hugh Taylor

The purpose of the trip was to increase awareness amongst authorities for a project which Hugh Taylor, former Beccles mayor, and Ollie Barnes, former Bungay mayor, are leading to enable smaller, electric, wind and paddle powered craft to 'enjoy the delights of the river' between the towns.

They were joined by Broads Authority chairman Professor Jacquie Burgess, authority member Bill Dickson and Broads Authority navigation committee member Simon Sparrow on the 'familiarisation' voyage which took place on May 18.

'This is a very beautiful and peaceful, but currently largely unvisited, stretch of waterway which we are looking to open up to visitors in appropriately powered smaller craft so that they can enjoy its tranquillity and help strengthen the historic river-based link between our two towns,' said Mr Taylor.

The exploration party was met at the start by the current Bungay mayor Mary Matthews and then on route at the Geldeston Locks Inn by Beccles Mayor Richard Stubbings. Both mayors expressed their interest in the project, which has received some initial feasibility funding from the two town councils.

From left, Bill Dickson, Hugh Taylor, Simon Sparrow, Richard Stubbings, Jacquie Burgess and Olly Bar

From left, Bill Dickson, Hugh Taylor, Simon Sparrow, Richard Stubbings, Jacquie Burgess and Olly Barnes at the Geldeston Locks Inn. Picture: Hugh Taylor - Credit: Hugh Taylor


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Mr Taylor said the weather had been kind and the river sparklingly-clear. 'We were going with the flow and it's a gentle paddle if you're starting at Bungay,' he said. 'We started at 10am and got in at 4pm with an hour lunch stop included.'

Calling it a trip to remember, he said the outing had been enjoyed by all. 'Many sightings were experienced of fish, birds including a cormorant, kingfisher and goslings and an otter. It was very much a trip to remember on this delightful and verdant waterway.'

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The Waveney forms a wide oxbow meander at Bungay before passing by Broome, Ellingham and Geldeston, where the isolated pub stands next to the site of a lock, now replaced by a sluice. This is the current limit of navigation for craft larger than a rowing or paddling boat and at this point the Waveney becomes a tidal river. Gillingham comes up next before the river gathers waters at Beccles. It eventually flows into the sea at Lowestoft.

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