Flat Holm and Steep Holm^

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Andy_L
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Flat Holm and Steep Holm^

Post by Andy_L » Wed Jan 11, 2006 5:15 pm

Has anyone paddled ever to these islands from the mainland? They are in the Bristol Channel near to Western-Super-Mare. I'd guess the tides are very strong, so it would be a serious undertaking.

See:
http://www.steepholm.freeserve.co.uk/index.html

http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/spnr/strategi ... m_home.htm

Andy

Owen
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Re: Flat Holm and Steep Holm

Post by Owen » Wed Jan 11, 2006 5:45 pm

Andy_L wrote:Has anyone paddled ever to these islands from the mainland? They are in the Bristol Channel near to Western-Super-Mare. I'd guess the tides are very strong, so it would be a serious undertaking.

Andy
Yes, did it quite a few years ago. We went from Clevedon on the ebb tide, basicly we headed for Cardiff and let the tide carry us onto Flatholm. There is a beach on the north east of the island getting on to it was quite tricky as the currents splits just off the beach.
We crossed to Steepholm at slack, the only place to land is on the east side; we bivied here. It's only naughty if you get caught.
Next day we went up to Denny Island which was a very difficult landing; and then back to Clevedon.
There are tide races with standing waves and overfalls all around the islands; so good fun.

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Wed Jan 11, 2006 8:08 pm

Yes, my first ever sea trip!

I'm sure there must be some kind of description here somewhere already (anyone good enough with the forum search to find out?).

We set off from Weston Super Mare, near the lifeboat station. Crossed quickly to Steep Holm in nice enough conditions, but packing had delayed us and we were an hour behind our carefully calculated schedule. Steep Holm is a bird reserve and thus you are only supposed to visit in the day...... we had lunch (should have pushed on and recovered the hour) there before heading over to Flat holm.

Now with the tide already going faster than we intended (flood) the wind decided to increase a bit more than forecast and we soon found ourselves battling against both the tide and a force 4ish wind in the channle between the islands. The shallow tail of the beach (exactly where Owen says it is) combined with wind and tide to make some nice clapotis for our setting off through! Our route was a fery glide accross the flood anyway, and we headed a few degrees higher on account of our lateness but were soon aware that we were going backwards and accross - this of course before GPS but it was pretty obvious what was happening. We reckoned afterwards that the tide probably flows through the channel between the islands slightly faster than the diamonds elsewhere on the chart would suggest.

Anyway, we kept going and whilst I was contemplating how much longer the flood would last I thought I saw one of my friends pass through a wave in an unusual way - he had actually rolled so we rafted up and he put an extra windproof on! Luckily at about that time we made it into the eddy behind flat holm and suddenly started making progress towards it. By the time we landed (pretty much same spot as Owen, although there is also a jetty on the northeast corner IIRC) he was kind of cold so our first priority was a group shelter and a flask of hot coffee!

Then it got interesting!

The coastguard (whom we had advised of our route plan) had told us that both islands were uninhabited, so it was quite a surprise when someone appeared to collect our landing fee, even if he did have trouble deciding what it was for kayaks! The island has a permanant warden, extra summer staff and is a residential base for school groups, one of which was on the island at the time, in addition to a boat load of day trippers out of Barry! This isn't all bad because it indicates that the island is actually quite interesting, unfortunately the real blow came when we were told that camping is not allowed and that we would have to pay to use the bunkhouse, oh and the forecast was for high wind and fog so we couldn't leave!

I said the island was interesting, well perhaps you don't want to read about it in advance, or perhaps you do? Skip a paragraph or 2 if you don't.
We were able to tag along with a guided tour (having moved our kit above the storm tide line) so learned a fair bit, and I seem to recall getting a book or something too. The island has been inhabited for a long time:
> In napoleonic times it housed an ingenious gun battery that hid itself as it fired so an enemy approaching up the Bristol Channel wo8uld take a battering but not be able to target the battery. The emplacements are still there to explore.
> At one time (WW1?) it was used as a Cholera hospital (no lingering infection to worry about)
> Marconi sent the first ever radio signal from here to prove that oit truly was wireless
> I can't remember much else, it does have millions of lesser black backed gulls and they had young 'uns at the time so were in dive bombing mode.
Oh yeah, it has 2 lighthouses, old and new. The new one is near the bunkhouse and has a very loud foghorn, the old one had a seperate foghorn station. The map shows springs on the island but we didn't need to look for them.

The following morning was still and only slightly misty so we launched at some ungodly hour and cruised back in super quick time in time for breakfast in Weston!

It was only a weekend trip so 2 of us were in Anas Acutas and the other in a Pyranha Everest (only carrying his sleeping bag). The rear deck of the Anas I was in was awash since I had the beer supply and tent, I recall it being even more marginal than my Sea King is with a weeks worth of gear in it, but it probably wasn't :)

OK, so it's perhaps not the greatest location for a weekend trip, but if you can time to cross on one tide and come back on the other with a big enough weather window it would make a nice day trip with something tangible to see when you get there.

JIM

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Andy_L
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Flat Holm and Steep Holm

Post by Andy_L » Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:46 pm

Thanks Owen and Jim for your information. Sounds like a goer, although a challenge to do in one day. I have already done Lundy, and Holm islands might be a good alternative. It's closer to where I live (London). I guess you want clear weather, otherwise there's a good chance of missing the islands altogether.

I will check out Denny Island - never heard of it.

Like the idea of tidal races and overfalls.

Any takers? Mark, McDoom, Zoe?

Andy

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:49 pm

Sounds worthwhile, we have considered this before...
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... light=holm

Admittedly my priority in the Bristol Channel is the return trip to Lundy...organising that now.
Mark Rainsley
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Dave Thomas
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Post by Dave Thomas » Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:57 pm

Hi Andy

Might well be interested in joining you if the date(s) were good and the invitation that open. For that matter, wouldn't mind a crack at Lundy, as well! Have you any spaces, Mark? And when do you have in mind?

Dave Thomas

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Wed Jan 11, 2006 11:02 pm

Jim - any pics from that trip? I feel a Trip Report - - - -

Mike

Owen
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Post by Owen » Thu Jan 12, 2006 12:23 pm

Hi Andy,

Denny island is at 51 degrees 31.2 North, 2 degrees 47.0 west.

It's on the Welsh Grounds opposite Avonmouth. The Welsh Grounds dry out at very low spring tides.

Between Flatholm and Steepholm the tide is accelarated and the whole area is a major shipping lane; so keep your eyes open.

Have fun.

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Andy_L
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Holm

Post by Andy_L » Thu Jan 12, 2006 1:10 pm

Dave Thomas wrote:
Might well be interested in joining you if the date(s) were good and the invitation that open.
It all depends on the weather. If it rains, everyone will be on the rivers. I think it's best to wait until spring or summer for the Holm trip especially if we want to camp on the island. Sometime in April or May.

Andy

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