Canoe Days Out

Middlesex - River Thames & backwaters - Laleham to Sunbury

This page was submitted by Keith Day (E-mail this submitter)
How to get there - Leave the M25 at Junction 11 and proceed north east. At the first roundabout take the first exit and continue straight on (bearing right at junction ) to "T" junction. Turn right and after crossing the river turn immediately left . Continue past Chertsey Lock and under M3 to the second car park on the right.

For those with SatNav the postcode is TW18 1SS.

Get a map with driving directions to start or end (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)

Suggested Launch Site - The launch site is over the road and into the Thames.

General Description - This trip is a one way trip of about 8 miles (one lock and one set of rollers), requiring you to arrange to leave a car at the end. The trip includes two interesting backwaters.

Start by going north (upstream) for about 3/4 of a mile to Penton Hook Lock.Turn left before the lock towards Penton Hook marina. The entrance into Abbey Stream is on the left after the houses. The next two miles is via the Abbey River/Stream. This stream can be overgrown in places and it is suggested that you take a saw and good pruning shears in case of obstruction. There are several low bridges. After two miles you will come to a small weir with boat rollers in the centre. Shortly after this you will rejoin the River Thames at Chertsey Lock Weir. Especially after periods of rain, the run off from the weir can be quite fierce so keep your wits about you.

The next four miles is classic Thames including a passage through Shepperton Lock. After the lock it is recommended that you take the left hand channel past D'Oyly Carte Island (once owned by the producer of the Gilbert & Sullivan operas) and Desborough Island following the original course of the river. Although a little longer it is worth it. After Walton Bridge and a collection of pubs on the right (The Swan and The Anglers) watch for a weir on the left. This is the entrance to the backwater to Sunbury. If river conditions are suitable you can complete the trip via the backwater.

The weir is marked by a row of white posts with chains. Go past these and then double back inside the posts. The second part of the weir is a set of shallow steps which you can portage into the backwater. They will be slippery so take care. The backwater meanders past the back gardens of houses, passing a small weir and then a major weir as you enter the original channel of the river into Sudbury. As with all weirs, the flow can be significant after periods of rain so take appropriate care. The get out is an area of green on the left near the church.

Comments on this trip

Andy H
20 Sep 2015
Although managed the route down Abbey River in July this backwater is now impassable just after the M3 bridge due to a large fallen willow. Forget the pruning saw a chainsaw will be required. A real shame!

Keith Day
17 Jul 2007
A party of 16 of us in 10 canoes made it through on 8th July so it was clear then - we had to do some heavy pruning on the way but it was definitely passable.

Fran Faulkner
17 Jul 2007
Bob and I kayaked up the Abbey stream from the Chertsey Camping and Caravanning Club camp-site back in June. There was a huge tree that had fallen, blocking our path. There was just enough space to push the kayaks through underneath the 'trunk' end of the tree, while we braved stinging nettles to disembark, scramble up the bank and climb over the massive trunk. Next time I'll have my pruning saw with me, however, I'm not sure it would have coped with this humungous tree!!


Chertsey Abbey
Desborough Island
Blogg of this trip
Thames Conditions

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The last trip loaded was Great Haywood to Great Haywood (Circular Route) on the River Trent / Trent & Mersey Canal by Peter Robinson