Cruising the River Rother with plenty of champagne…

Just been on a really lovely evening boat trip on the Rother, from Bodiam Boating Station at Newenden Bridge down past Iden Lock nearly to Rye. Battleaxe would recommend!

A perfect summer evening


 It was a perfect summer evening – warm, cloudless, no wind – we were so lucky. Went with friends Tom and Jan – Tom and I both have birthdays coming up.  We took picnics and consumed several bottles of champagne. The trip lasted about three hours – 16 miles in total.
     None of us had been to the boatyard at Newenden before – it has quite a nice looking cafe, but also a rather crowded and noisy campsite. As well as the river trips, you can hire little boats and canoes.  It was extremely busy with loads of cars and shouting jolly families when we arrived. I think we all felt a bit anxious about what was in store for us, but once we got out on the river all was wonderfully peaceful. The boat could accommodate 20, but they had put two boats on, so ours only had about 10 people.  Originally, sailing barges were used on the river – they must have been a fine, and silent, thing. The river was so empty we encountered a bloke swimming upstream past us, and apart from a few fisherpersons, the only occupants of the riverbank were sheep.

Leaving Newenden Bridge
Rippling the water lilies

     The Rother is navigable from the sea right up to Bodiam Castle, but is cut off about three miles from the sea by a tidal sluice called Scots Float, which regulates the water flow above its tidal reach. We walk along the lower reach of the Rother very often when we visit Rye Harbour.  We passed the old Iden Lock, where the river joins the old Military Canal, which again we know well in its upper reaches round Pett and Winchelsea.

Iden Lock
Scots Float

      The river winds slowly through reed fringed banks, across the Rother Levels, largely flat land  on the fringes of Romney Marsh. It was very beautiful watching the light fade and the colours change from green to gold.

Colours change
To gold

Getting close to sunset
Coming home

      We did pass many parked boats, which excited Tom considerably – they had a canal narrow boat until recently, and have had other boats before. We actually saw one marked for sale, which fired him up big time.  I’m sure it would be fun having a boat on the river,  but I think I might get bored of the terrain after a bit…. but how do I know, I’ve never had a boat.
      We saw some wild life – swans, a few ducks, a heron, a tree full of cormorants and a kestrel sitting on a post. We also saw owl boxes on poles, which are apparently all along the river banks – for barn owls, one understands. Why should they like river banks?  I gather that these days, substantial efforts are made to conserve bank-dwelling water voles – seems a bit daft to site homes for hungry owl families right by the vole holes.

Cormorant tree

       It was a lovely outing. Here are the intrepid travellers, glasses in hand…..


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