How to get there -
Theale is at Junction 12 of the M4 and the launch site is just over a mile from this junction.
From the M4 turn south onto the A4. At the first roundabout turn left and follow the signs for the station which will involve turning right at the next two roundabouts and left at the third. You will immediately pass over the railway and will shortly come to a narrow bridge (controlled by traffic lights) over a branch of the river Kennet. Immediately after this you will pass over the navigable channel.
Turn left into the public car park. There is a height restriction at the entrance so be careful if you have your canoe on the roof. We had no problem but you will need to check for yourself.
For those with SatNav a nearby postcode is RG7 4AJ.
Get a map with driving directions to start
(enter the postcode of your starting point at A)
Suggested Launch Site -
Park at the far side of the car park from where you can see the lock a short walk away. You can launch from the towpath at either end of the lock. For this trip, launch to the right of the lock and travel northeast.
This is a one way trip of 6 1/2 miles and 6 portages. It ends at the car park to the Wokingham Waterside Centre (see map) so you will need to have left a car here or arranged return transport. For those with SatNav the postcode is RG6 1PQ.
Having launched at Sheffield Lock, set off right (northeast) and in half a mile you with reach Garston Lock, one of the few turf sided locks remaining on the canal, which you portage on the right. This is shortly followed by the M4 bridge and a pedestrian bridge. A further half mile and some sharp bends brings you to the start of the next canalised section avoiding the weir on the right. Portage the next lock to the left then rejoin the river. In half a mile you will come to the Cunning Man pub (see Burghfield History) at Burgfield Bridge and a further half mile, avoiding the weir on the right, brings you to Fobney Lock.
The canal now turns sharp left and enters the industrial suburbs of Reading. In two miles you will pass under the Reading inner ring road followed by County lock (portage on right). You will now pass through the Oracle shopping centre and the town centre section of the navigation. This section can be quite fast flowing following heavy rain and a section is controlled by traffic lights.
All too soon you will reach Blakes lock (portage on the left) and half a mile further on, enter the Thames next to the gasometers. Turn right (east) here and your recovery point will be on the right bank at the Wokingham Waterside Centre (see map & photo)