Wales

  • Anglesey and the Lleyn

    - illustrated trip report by Jim Krawiecki

    Anglesey and the Lleyn by Kayak

     

    Words by Jim Krawiecki, photos by Trevor Shepherd and Jim Krawiecki

    Originally written for the WCA's "Ceufad" magazine
    December' 04 edition and also posted on North West Sea Kayakers web site.

     

    Most of my paddling trips have some sort of a plan which contains a degree of organisation, this one however was to be a little different. The planning on this trip didn’t even require the use of a torn up cigarette packet. The basic plan was for me and my partner-in-crime, Trevor to paddle from Llanfairfechan, which is on the North Wales coast between Conwy and Bangor, to Pwllheli on the south coast of the Lleyn Peninsula. We planned to take 5-6 days, meet up with other paddlers along the way and to drop in on some friends whilst in their neighbourhood. Trevor is a teacher from Derbyshire, a sea kayaker who lives up a mountain with an extraordinary willingness to go with any of my ideas. I always ask Trevor first, despite his modest five and a third foot vertical dimension!

    Llanfairfechan

    For tides to work in our favour we needed to start early, early being 6am. We did ourselves no favours by attending a party in Manchester the evening before. We finally left the party rather later than planned and woke to the awful realisation you get when you sleep through the alarm on a Monday morning. Arriving at Llanfairfechan only an hour and a half late didn’t seem so bad; after all I had a monstrous hangover to keep my spirits high.

    We found Dave, a senior paddler who has the annoying habit of leaving me standing in aquatic races for the pub! Dave had been waiting for us faithfully since the previously agreed 6am, oops, sorry!


    Llanfairfechan has much to offer as a starting point for a sea kayak trip. The promenade with its large car park is just a short hop from the A55 expressway but don’t even think about trying to use it when the tide is out, unless you like mud! The weather was better than expected and soon boats were packed and we were off!

    The wind rapidly increased as we set out across the mouth of the Menai Straits towards the Lighthouse at Penmon. In a force 4, which was building from the south, I tried to convince myself that when a trip starts as badly as this, things could only improve. On hearing the ominous clang of the bell from the lighthouse my spirits might have sunk further if it wasn’t for the shelter offered by the cliffs at Trwyn Dimor.
    The going quickly got easier and prettier when the sun put in an appearance as we crossed Red Wharf Bay. In starting so late we had already missed the best of the Ebb stream, which so we decided to rest, drink tea and eat cake before rounding Point Lynas.


    Point Lynas and the North coast of Anglesey

    I have often charged past this rather special part of the coast whilst on some sort of a mission. With wind and tide against us and ever increasing, we were forced to keep close to the shore. I had never suspected how stunning and varied these often forgotten shores were. Caves, arches and inlets gave us shelter from the wind and provided us with numerous back eddies but the going was still tough as we passed Bull Bay and Porth Wen.

    Conversation was getting thin and I detected potential for sense of humour failure. Dave chose to put in at Porth Llanlliana, Trevor and me followed without question. The welsh sun was still shining and ruins of the old boot factory sheltered us from the unrelenting wind. I made best of the opportunity and made a quick hot snack whilst Dave got a brew together.


    Cemlyn

    With renewed energy we paddled on past Wylfa Head but the sun was getting low in the sky so we entered Cemlyn Bay, found a quiet spot and made camp for the night. We found a small, west-facing beach just out of the wind with driftwood and space nearby for our tents. There was just enough warmth from the setting sun to dry kit off whilst we rewarded our aching limbs with a hearty meal and a beer or two. Arctic Terns from their nearby breeding colony kept us entertained with their antics as they fished for their final meal of Sand Eels before dark. Finally as I got into my sleeping bag I caught sight of the Skerries lighthouse, I shall return to this spot again.

    Carmel Head and a lazy day in the sun

    The next morning we had arranged to meet with some friends. Emyr from Caernarfon had arranged to paddle with us for the day and some whitewater junkies from Manchester were expecting us for lunch. I owe Emyr a great deal because his knowledge of local history feeds and inspires me to share these experiences. Paddling with him is like having your own tour guide, a story behind every headland.


    The conditions had improved dramatically overnight, the wind had abated, the sun was shining and the sea had become a fairy tale blue. The second hour of ebb tide carried us neatly from the bay and round Carmel Head towards Porth Tywyn-mawr and the Sandy Beach campsite. A school of whitewater paddlers known as “The Zoo” welcomed us ashore and treated us to a smoky barbecue with plenty of greasy burgers which set us up nicely for a lazy afternoon of sunbathing and tall stories of the previous days adventure. We could have been tempted to stay the night but the site was overcrowded, dusty and noisy.

    Rather than be predictable and paddle the classic route around North Stack and South Stack (again) a short cut through Stanley Embankment and the Inland Sea was our preferred option. As we arrived at the tunnel water was still ebbing from the inland sea but it wasn’t long before we could paddle through into the last short, easy stretch to Four Mile Bridge. Four Mile Bridge is at the southern entrance of the inland sea and carries the road from Valley to Rhoscolyn.

    The campsite is not well known and as a result, fairly quiet, but has the advantage of a good pub nearby so we left Emyr to pack his things and drive home to his family. We sat outside The Anchorage Hotel drinking a pint or two of soothingly cool Guinness whilst watching the sun go down.

    Curiosity at Four Mile Bridge

    Amongst the numerous attractions to a journey by kayak one of my favourites is experiencing the curiosity of others. We had pitched our tents close to a caravan in which a family with some friends were spending their Whit break. They had watched us arrive, unpack and pitch out tents with great restraint and a friendly “Hello, nice day for it!”

    The next morning was a different story. I guess they were quite amazed when we packed our tents and associated clutter into our kayaks, “How far?”….”What does that do?”….”Is it dangerous, do you ever get scared?”

    Anglesey south coast

    Our new found friends waved us off as we paddled with the Ebb as it winds its way out of the Cymran strait past RAF valley and on, towards Rhosneigr. Once in the open water we lost any signs of tidal assistance and so our attention was drawn to exploring the coastline. There is a lovely spot for Seal watching at Ynys Meibion an a little further to the east is a unique little church which was built on an island which you can walk to at low tide.

    The old church of Llangwyfan has been in existence since 1254 and services are still held at Easter, Christmas and other occasions by request. Our lunch stop was just a little further beyond Aberffraw. Porth Cadwaladr is one of a series of small sandy bays with low cliffs and sand dunes along a 2-mile stretch of coast between Aberffraw and Malltraeth.

    By early afternoon the sunshine was getting a little hazy and signs of bad weather began to appear on the horizon. A short spell of nasty weather was forecast for late afternoon and to continue overnight. Dave was due home that evening, Trevor and me were expected by our friends Brian and Sarah who live a couple of miles south of Caernarfon. Our plan was coming together nicely! We landed just in time to avoid getting rained on and when we arrived at their house; Brian had already blown the froth off a freshly poured beer and Sarah had lit the rainproof barbecue. Trevor warned me to expect a warm welcome.

    My friend Ray, a marine engineer from the Wirral came to join us for the next part of our journey. Ray is a man of Mammoth proportions, he reminds me of the Vikings depicted in history books. With his red beard, rough voice and phenomenal presence. I feel less harm will come to me when Ray is around, just as long as I don’t upset him. We had not seen each other for a while so there was plenty of catching up to do, food to be eaten, wine to be drunk! This was to prove to be a long, wonderful but difficult night. When morning came it was still raining and I had yet another hangover to deal with.

    North Coast of the Lleyn

    We resumed our journey 8 miles further south by the village of Gyrn Goch. The nice people at Aberafon campsite are very helpful and have always made me welcome. There is good access to the sea and they allowed us to park our cars for a couple of days. The previous nights weather had made the sea choppy but the wind had died down a bit and the rain had eased to a fine drizzle. The Lleyn is more sparsely populated than Anglesey and has a wilder feel, making this peninsula a must for sea kayaking. We paddled southwest towards Trefor and the Rivals, an imposing set of hills that rise dramatically from the sea. The cliffs below have seabird colonies and steep storm beaches.

    The weather was a bit grim, we felt so small in such a wild place! Once past another set of imposing Cliffs with Thousands of seabirds we made for Ty Coch, a lovely pub at Porth Dinllaen, for elevenses! We sat down to a much-needed brew and tried not to look at what we had just been paddling on. Ray was counting the whitetops and having doubts about proceeding so we studied the map reassuring ourselves with various escape plans.

    We paddled on. The ebb flows southwest along the coast creating overfalls just off Trwyn Porth Dinllaen. Trevor and me crashed through, Ray took a smoother line closer in to shore but the sea beyond was definitely becoming more imposing. I put my camera away! For a while the going was rough with showers and a cold wind but clearer weather was slowly creeping in.

    Porth Ysgaden


    We spotted a curious ruin on a low headland and according to the map there was a beach on the far side, just as we landed the sun came out and the wind began to ease, perfect! The Headland with its little beach is called Porth Ysgaden. I tried to find out more about the ruin on the headland but to no avail, I only found that Porth Ysgaden’s history was mostly built on Herring fishing but there is also mention of the import of Horse manure from Ireland. There is access by road and a campsite near by, perhaps a place to note for future trips.

    By the time we were back on the water, the tide had turned and we realised that the further we went the more it would be against us. We stayed close in to shore at Porth Colmon, as the sun was shining once again and the sea was getting comparatively smooth. Our aim was to get to Porth Oer (Whistling Sands) by the end of the day so we hurried round any headlands and paddled deep into bays in search of back eddies, we kept ourselves entertained by rockhopping and playing hide and seek with Seals.

    Porth Oer

    Landing at Porth Oer was a delight; golden late afternoon sunshine and some gentle surf made this a rewarding end to what had been a tough day. Once we had landed, we were quickly tempted to the beach shop for ice cream and a drink. As the sun was setting, we pitched our tents and I lit a small fire upon which we toasted marshmallows as Ray played us a tune, which he claimed was the Brazilian national anthem, on his harmonica. Despite Ray’s best efforts we weren’t alone on the beach, quite a number of people had come to see the sunset and there were fishermen beach casting well into the night.

    Bardsey Sound


    We left the next morning shortly after high water so as to catch the ebb stream along the coast towards Bardsey Sound. The cliffs are imposing here reminiscent of those close to Trefor. The closer we got to Bardsey Sound the swifter the current and the greater the swell, paddling here really gives an enhanced feeling of being at the end! Tidal streams are swift in the sound, I’ve heard that this is not the place to be on a windy day, on this fine morning the progress was easy and quick and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying a cool beer and lunch, on the terrace of The Ty Newdd hotel in Aberdaron. After lunch it was time to say farewell to Ray and then on towards Hell’s Mouth but not before nipping into the general store for a few more supplies.

    It was now down to me and Trevor to complete the journey, so we decided to take it easy and head for Hell’s Mouth. We took time to explore small caves and gullies and found some intriguing rock formations. The final mile or two into Hell’s mouth was on glassy flat water, the still summer afternoon seemed timeless.

    Porth Neigwl (Hell’s Mouth)

    We landed at the western end of the bay near to a boathouse used by local fishermen. As it was low water we left our boats and went on foot to find a good camping spot. There is a very scenic campsite at Treheli Farm run by Mr & Mrs Williams who are delightfully helpful and really laid back; they allowed us to use one of their lower fields. We pitched our tents, then waited until high water to bring our kayaks from the boathouse.

    The Area around Hell’s Mouth and the village of Rhiw is well worth exploring. Plas Yn Rhiw is an old house with ornamental gardens and an arboretum. The village post office is charmingly old fashioned and the crags that dominate the area give Phenomenal views across the whole of the Lleyn. Trevor and me spent most of the following day exploring before descending to the beach to collect driftwood in preparation for a long pleasant evening by the fire.


    Round to the South Lleyn

    Our last morning began with setting a bearing for the far headland Trwyn Cilan. It takes over an hour to paddle the whole width of the bay; the morning mist and slight drizzle made it seem longer. Upon arrival at Cilan I was amazed at the enormity of the place and so full of life. We saw Porpoises, Seals and thousands of seabirds. Paddling on we passed Porth Ceiriad, which is as popular with surfers as Hell’s mouth. St Tudwals Road with the islands of the same name led us neatly to Abersoch. We were definitely winding down towards the end of our journey as we sat by the harbour eating pie and chips from the take away in the town. Just across the water is Trwyn Llanbedrog and our finish on the other side.

    Llanbedrog is a pleasant place to end a trip because there is pleasant café/restaurant to wind down and wait for the shuttle. Although we had finished a couple of miles short of our original target, Pwllheli, the journey was complete. We had enjoyed the warmth, suffered the harshness and mingled with the people of Anglesey and the Lleyn by kayak.

    I’d like to express my thanks to: Brian and Sarah for their help and hospitality; Ieuan & Megan Williams at Treheli Farm Campsite for their support and to Trevor, Dave, Ray and Emyr for their company on the trip.

    Words by Jim Krawiecki, photos by Trevor Shepherd and Jim Krawiecki.

  • Bitches Report, June 2001

    - by Mark Rainsley. Splendid weekend at one of the UK's best locations

    Bitches Report, June 2001

    I thought I might describe the peculiar set of experiences I have enjoyed since Friday. I tried my hand at 'canoeing' and I must say I found it splendid fun and to be recommended...you really should all go out and try it...

    Due to a mixup, the others couldn't find where I was camped at, 4 am on Saturday morning...so they couldn't find me and make me paddle on the morning tide at the Bitches rapid...thank heavens, I really did need a good kip.

    I did however go out on the evening tide, along with Si Wiles and Claire Chapman. The weather was lousy and the surf wave was blown out flat, very disappointing. We messed around at the playhole, where disaster struck. Claire took a swim, no big deal in itself. Whilst trying to swim to the rock at the top of the eddy, she was sucked down on the eddy line...and vanished. A welsh lad with us panicked a bit, and started talking about calling the lifeboat out. I calmly reassured him that she'd pop up below us in a
    second - but she didn't. We spread out and began searching along the eddyline, and we were all beginning to panic now. I've never seen anyone disappear underwater for so long. Thank the stars, she finally popped up, a full and unbelievable 150 feet away from the rock. I assumed she'd be unconscious, but she was just very shaken up and stressed (understandably...all she'd apparently seen was darkness for a loonnngggg while) and Si towed her to the island for much needed time out.

    Getting back was a nightmare; it was her first time at the Bitches and she'd been wary anyway. After that experience, every riffle scared her so we had to take a conservative route back, dropping left of Horse Rock and then eddyhopping our way upstream to St Justinians.

    The weekend had to improve from there! On Sunday we slept in and missed the early tide, but lovely clean 4-5 foot surf appeared at Whitesands, so it was spin and bluntarama as we threw our boats around. Claire acquitted herself well for a novice surfer, and Tim even managed a near-kickflip...not bad as he was trying something totally different at the time! I hopped into Simon's new tiny Pyranha 'S-Club 7' and it was awesome, the most fun I've had in a boat in a long time. We could both just about get it aerial on the blunts, very fast and light. Try one! Amusingly, Si will be taking it to the Zambezi in September. Hope he takes a snorkel, he he he...

    They had to go home, something to do with jobs. That left Chris Wheeler and myself for the evening Bitches tide. The wave didn't work for too long, but it was fun.

    At 5 am the next morning Chris rattled my tent and I did indeed take his name in vain. The paddle out to the Bitches was grim too. Despite the lovely sunny morning, we made life hard by attempting a direct crossing to the Bitches. I won't be trying it again, for a while we seemed to be getting nearer Ireland than our intended destination.

    We eventually arrived at the Bitches. We were the only kayakers, but six boardies had hired a launch and were swimming from it to the wave. They were filming a short piece for 'Transworld Sport', so Chris and I adjusted our hair and makeup!! Only two of the boardies managed the feat of surfing the wave (Jean-Paul from Twr Y Felin managed an awesome five minute surf), but full respect for the effort of trying.

    Chris and I agreed that as they were making a film, a] we had to make our efforts look good and b] we couldn't just camp out on the wave and front-surf, we had to 'try' things to shorten our runs and give them a chance.

    The resulting pressure meant that we paddled like mad things and really went for it, it was like being in a competition. Luckily the wave was as good as I've ever had it, really big and steep with a big curling shoulder. My own 'piece de resistance' was a big blunt into a cartwheel on the face...although from where Chris was watching it just looked like an everyday wipeout...

    ;-)

    Anyway, the best paddle I've had, at what is becoming my favourite paddling location. Full marks to Chris for forcing me to get up to enjoy it. If you haven't been out to St David's yet, you need to make the trip. There is something there for all tastes and abilities. I love it!!!!

    Mark Rainsley

    Information on paddling in Pembrokeshire.

  • Cwm Pennant Festival - Abersoch trip

    - report from "A Novice Sea Kayakers Log Book" (Illustrated)

    « Cwm Pennant Sea Kayaking Festival

    Cwm Pennant Festival - Abersoch trip

    Abersoch mapWe pushed off from the beach at Sarn Bach, just south of Abersoch, in scorching sunshine with the dark mountains of Snowdonia looming up across the bay to the east. We were the last group of paddlers to set off and, led by Dave Evans, about twenty of us paddled south, around the cliffs towards the headland of Trwyn yr Wylfa and around to the beach at Porth Ceiriad. On the way we spotted a porpoise, easily distinguished from a dolphin (after the lecture we had received on Saturday) by its triangular dorsal fin. The conditions were ideal with little wind and calm, clear water but we did experience a lot of wake from the numerous jet skis and speed boats.

    landing at Porth Ceiriad
    Despite being the last to set off, we were the first group to arrive at the beach as the others were making the trip around St Tudwal's Islands. There was some breaking surf on the beach and those who landed first stood by to help the rest in. Having hauled the boats up on the sand we sat down to enjoy our picnic.

    If the other people on the beach had been surprised to see twenty kayakers arriving, they must have felt they were being invaded, when, twenty minutes later, the rest of the paddlers began to arrive. From our picnic spot we were entertained by some spectacular surf landings and soon the number of boats lined up on the beach had grown to sixty five - an armada!

    While the others were finishing their lunch I had a refreshing swim and we all then got back in to our boats and headed off to explore St Tudwal's Islands, the site of the sixth century saint's hermitage and a well known seal colony.

    Setting off after lunch
    We paddled past the southern end of the west island and across to the east island where we rested for a few minutes to explore the caves and admire the scenery. I saw only one seal as we rounded the south east corner of the island.

    The eastern side of the island is evidently a popular spot with locals as lots of boats had dropped anchor there and people were swimming or lazing on deck reading the Sunday papers. We paddled through the boats and straight back across the channel, delighted to find that an ice cream van had arrived at the car park!

    Total trip distance 11km.

     
  • Holy Island, Anglesey

    - illustrated report by Zoe Newsam

    Stacks of Rockhopping
    Paddles Touring Guide - Holy Island, Anglesey

    By Zoe Newsam - 2005

    South Stack Lighthouse

     

    At the northwest tip of Wales sits an island thought by many to rival almost any sea paddling destination in the World: Anglesey. On the west side of Anglesey is Holy Island, the jewel in Anglesey’s paddling crown. Sea kayakers are drawn to Islands for reasons many and varied. This one offers variety in the extreme, from the ‘Inland Sea’ and sheltered flat water, to the playwave at Stanley Embankment; and from unrivalled rockhopping near Rhoscolyn to the awesome tide races of ‘The Stacks’. There is something for everyone here. Home to Nigel Dennis Kayaks; UK Sea Kayaking (until recently ‘Anglesey Sea and Surf Centre’); the Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium (originally known as ‘The Nordkapp Meet’); and more recent additions in the form of Rockpool Kayaks and Rock and Sea, this area has produced some of British Sea Kayaking’s brightest stars. They’ve all cut their teeth in the Tide Races and Overfalls around Holy Island. If you can paddle comfortably in these waters, then you can almost certainly hold your own anywhere in the world.


    One of the challenges and pleasures of planning a trip in this area is working out and understanding the strong and complex tidal streams that surround the island. These are best explained in the Imray Pilot, ‘Cruising Anglesey and Adjoining Waters’, which is an excellent introduction to the area with really detailed tidal stream diagrams. Both of the trips described involve tidal sections; if you are in any doubt about the effects of these, seek experienced guidance first.
    Paddler-friendly camping can be found at The Centre (Formerly Anglesey Sea & Surf Centre - basic but convenient), or the Valley of the Rocks, both near Porth Dafarch, or Outdoor Alternative, Rhoscolyn. The Paddler’s Return bar at The Centre, is of interest as the walls display several decades of British Sea Kayaking history - in the form of boats and paddles used in expeditions round Britain and Cape Horn, from Britain to Turkey, and photographs, newspaper cuttings and memorabilia.


    Of course being an island, it is possible to paddle all the way around Holy Island, and there are a multitude of combinations that can be dreamt up. The two below are my favourites.

    Treaddur Bay to Four Mile Bridge

    This trip can also be started from Rhoscolyn Bay (marked ‘Borthwen’ on OS maps) to make a slightly shorter day. On a sunny summer weekend the beach at Treaddur Bay can get very crowded - park in the car park to the north of the beach. Once you’ve escaped the ever-present swimmers, divers and tourists, leave the sandy beach for the rocky coastline en-route to Rhoscolyn Bay. This is studded with little shingle bays, and with caves, arches and gaps to explore. Because of the large tidal range here, the coastline changes dramatically during the tidal cycle, and an arch that was paddled through on the outward journey can be dry several metres above the water line on the return trip! Look out for the White Arch as you near Rhoscolyn Head - the name somewhat gives the game away.
    Nearing Rhoscolyn Head, the combination of rocks below the surface and significant tidal flow can make for an interesting and sometimes lumpy passage. A short distance offshore, Rhoscolyn Beacon has its own mini tide race which can prove an entertaining playground with rockhopping to hand. Keep an eye out for the very friendly seals that inhabit the various channels and inlets that become exposed at different stages of the tide.

    Rhoscolyn Beacon

    Penny at Rhoscolyn Beacon

    Rhoscolyn Cave


    Back inshore at Rhoscolyn Bay there are two beaches: the first shingle, and the second sandy, with an old lifeboat station at the entrance. This is a lovely sheltered beach (with car park and toilets) and makes a great lunch stop, or start/ finish point.
    Heading south from the shelter of the beach, the rockhopping is second to none; take time to explore the inlets and channels. Eventually, the whirr of helicopter rotors heralds the Valley RAF base ahead. In the right conditions the little sand bar here in Silver Bay can produce some beautiful surf. The final section of this trip winds north up the Cymran Strait, which is where you discover whether your tidal planning was accurate! Even by sea kayak, it is only really possible to navigate this passage around 1-2 hours either side of High Water, so make sure you work this out carefully! If you’re right, you should have a leisurely end to a gorgeous trip, floating with the tide along the winding Straits to Four Mile Bridge.

    ‘The Stacks’: Porth Dafarch to North Stack and return

    If you are an experienced Sea Kayaker you will doubtless have heard of the Stacks: North Stack, South Stack, Penrhyn Mawr. Names that trip off the tongue like honey. Be in no doubt, however: this is a classic but very challenging trip, and involves negotiating some of the fastest tidal streams in the British Isles. It also passes some astonishingly beautiful and rugged coastline with very few landing places, and is continually changing with wind and tide.


    While the tide is flooding, launch at Porth Dafarch’s sandy beach. Parking is free, there are toilets, and in the summer, a tea van! Tourists abound, and if you’ve picked a Spring Tides weekend with good weather then you may have to fight for parking space, or arrive early. Depending on your intentions, either allow time for playing at Penrhyn Mawr on the flood while the race is still running, or time the first part of this trip close to slack water at Penrhyn Mawr to avoid the roughest water. However, the second option makes life interesting in itself; it will involve eddy hopping around the headland against potentially quite strong flows. On the flood it is usually possible to sneak through the ‘Chicken Shoot’, a flatter passage of water close inshore, but there is no escaping the requirement for knowledge and experience of tides and moving water, particularly on a flooding tide against a wind or swell from the north.

    Penrhyn Mawr


    As you round the first small headland, a gap appears between the shore and an offlying rock. Be careful here - there are almost always anglers lying in wait! If the tide is still flooding there will be flow through this gap, and then the first view of Penrhyn Mawr opens up ahead. Decision time…


    At Porth Ruffydd on the right before you reach the race itself, it is possible (and recommended, for a great view!) to land on the shingle beach, walk up the steps at the back of the little bay and follow the path around the cliff top. This brings you to the headland above the race for an inspection, if necessary, and is also a great spot for a few photos! Once playtime is over or you have been bounced through the smaller inner sections of the race, you now have a choice: The main tidal flow heads slightly out to sea and can be ‘caught’ around to South Stack if it is still flooding, or you can choose to stick to slacker water close inshore. On the flood there is a back eddy in Abraham’s Bosom, the bay to the North of Penrhyn Mawr, which can be quite powerful in places; however there is also some wonderful rockhopping to be had. South of South Stack are some extraordinary bits of geology - rocks folded and tilted, squashed and bent like a deformed swiss roll.


    Beneath the lovely, imposing lighthouse at South Stack, another choice: inside or outside? When the tide is flowing here the passage under the bridge runs like a small river and can provide some measure of entertainment, not least for the tourists on the bridge! The main flow passes around the outside of the Stack and forms a large and sometimes intimidating race which can extend up to 7 miles offshore in rough conditions. According to the Imray Pilot ‘the race at South Stack reaches 6 knots and can, in suitable conditions, create a confused steep sea with 2 metre breakers in wind strengths of Force 3’. To quote Nigel Dennis, ‘Fun or Fear’! Once past South Stack, stay inshore for yet more spectacular rockhopping, but beware: if you spot the Fast Ferry heading in or out of Holyhead Harbour to the North, stay well clear of any rocks for a few minutes as they produce an amazingly large wash that could easily cause a dangerous mishap.

    South Stack Bridge


    The bay between North and South Stack is Gogarth Bay - sheer cliffs dropping straight into the sea, where you will often see climbers attempting spectacularly situated routes. Just before North Stack at the north end of the bay, are some beautiful, cathedral-like caves. One has two entrances and can be paddled right through. Northernmost is Parliament Cave, a favourite Sea Kayakers’ lunch spot. You’ll doubtless share it with the two or three seals that inhabit it. Whilst you’re eating your sandwiches, look above - see if you can spot the climbing gear dangling from the enormous overhanging roof!

    Parliament Cave

    Nigel Dennis at North Stack Cave


    Around the corner, if the tide is now ebbing (it turns here an hour before South Stack and Penrhyn Mawr), is North Stack race. This should be treated with real caution and respect, as it heads straight out of Liverpool Bay into the Irish Sea - next stop, Dublin. Depending on your timing of the tides you can either head east towards Holyhead (just before the breakwater is Soldiers’ Point, an excellent place to park a second car to finish a one way trip), or turn around and paddle back to Porth Dafarch, and see a whole different world on the return journey! There is no real tide race at Penrhyn Mawr on the ebb, just more classic rockhopping and the odd seal basking in the sunshine.


    Additional Resources

    "Cruising Anglesey & Adjoining Waters" - Ralph Morris - Imray
    "Snowdonia White Water, Sea and Surf" - Terry Storrey - Cicerone
    Ordnance Survey Landranger 114, Anglesey or Multimap.
    "This Is The Sea" - Justine Curgenven - www.cackletv.com - (DVD- for video footage of Penrhyn Mawr)


    The Centre, Porth Dafarch - 01407 769351
    Outdoor Alternative, Rhoscolyn www.outdooralternative.org
    UKSeakayaking / Nigel Dennis Kayaks www.ukseakayaking.com
    North West Sea Kayakers www.nwsk.org.uk
    Rock and Sea Adventures www.rockandseadventures.co.uk

  • Irish Sea Crossing - Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire

    - trip report by Barry Shaw and Harry Whelan

    Irish Sea Crossing - Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire

     
    Barry Shaw and Harry Whelan

     

    The route. Note the tidal allowance.

    At 08.20am on 25th August 2003 Harry and I were sat in our kayaks at Porth Dafarch on Anglesey about to paddle to Ireland.

    We reckoned that by leaving an hour before slack water that we’d drift north for an hour then south for roughly 6 hours, then north again for about 6 hours then towards the end of the journey start drifting southwards again.

    There was a F4-5 east northeast wind blowing and the sea was fairly flat, at least for now. We’d been to see Holyhead coastguard the day before to let them know what we were doing and they were fine but asked us to call them every few hours.

    We set off paddling out past Penrhyn Mawr and carried on west although the tide was still taking us north for a while until slack water. The plan was to always stay south of the Sea Cat that runs between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire.

    For the first couple of hours the sea was fairly calm but the further we went the bigger it became. We stopped briefly after 3 hours to give the coastguard a call and have a quick toilet stop then off we went again. After another hour I had a bit of pain in my elbow so I switched paddles from my Nordkapp to an Archipelago which has a smaller blade and this seemed to do the trick.

    By now we had a following sea with 6 or 7 feet waves which kept breaking over the back of our kayaks. Stopping for a drink or to go to the toilet became increasingly difficult which meant that at times we didn’t stop when really we should have done to take in food and water.

    It was about 9 hours before we could see land ahead of us and it didn’t look any closer for quite a while. Pretty soon I began to feel rather ill but didn’t want to say anything as we still had a lot of paddling to do. I remember that for the next hour I was really struggling not to be sick while Harry looked like he was having a great time trying to go as fast as he could down the face of every breaking wave he could catch then suddenly I shouted out to him that I needed to raft up quick. As soon as he got to me I dropped on to his kayak and threw up all over his rear deck but the rough sea did a great job of washing it all away. We stayed rafted up for a couple of minutes and it was a bit of a worry that I wasn’t going to want to start paddling again but in no time I was feeling like new again (well for an hour or so anyway).

    As we started to lose daylight we knew that Kish Bank, a shallow area about 6 miles out from Dun Laoghaire, lay ahead of us. We thought that the sea might really kick up over it so wanted to be past it before dark. We were soon over it and it wasn’t any different to what we’d had for the rest of the journey.

    We paddled on a bit longer and suddenly Harry said there was a Sea Cat heading straight for us about 200 metres away which I hadn’t seen. We turned to try to get out of it’s way and saw a huge search light go on. It managed to pick us up and stayed on us as the Sea Cat went past. The wash from it combined with the waves coming in from behind us to make things quite difficult in the dark. I was completely drained by now but Harry kept pushing me to get to Ireland before the pubs shut.

    We kept out of the harbour and looked for somewhere to land. It all looked rocky and the waves were crashing in then we noticed a small beach facing north which was sheltered.It was just before 11.00pm when we landed, the 60 mile trip had taken us 14 hours 34 minutes. We were greeted by an incredibly friendly Irish lady who wanted to know everything about our journey. We climbed out of our wet clothes, got dried off and went to sleep on the grass verge at the side of the road.

    Next morning we strapped the kayaks on to trolleys and wheeled them a mile up the road to Dun Laoghaire ferry terminal where Stenna line were most helpful. They put the kayaks on for us and a couple of hours later we were back in Anglesey.The trip had been good but I still get stick off Harry for making him miss last orders.

    Barry Shaw and Harry Whelan

    Barry likes the Irish Sea - see also his trip report on the crossing from Portpatrick to Larne

     

     
  • Lleyn Peninsula Easter 2002

    - trip report by Jim Krawiecki. (illustrated)

    Lleyn Peninsula Easter 2002

     

     
     

    We started our trip from a Campsite by Gyrn Goch (grid ref:486401) 2 miles northeast of Trevor. Paddled to Bardsey Island and then on to Llanbedrog (grid ref: 313333) in two and a bit days.

     

    Friday 29th March

    Just as planned, we launched at 9-30 just before high water and began to leave the mountain and village of Gyrn Goch behind us. The weather was fine with only light, variable winds and plenty of warm spring sunshine. Ahead of us was a whistle stop tour of the North coast of the Lleyn, in order to get to Bardsey (Ynys Enlli as I would prefer to call it) we would have to paddle more than 25 (statute) miles. Passing Trefor and Yr Eifl was heartbreaking I was longing to explore the cliffs and caves but I guess they will still be there for another trip. By the time we came bearing down on Porth Dinllaen It would have been a waste to go with my original plan and stop for a pint! We were getting about 2 Knots of tidal assistance, so we carried on.

     

    We paddled from headland to headland finding small overfalls with each; Porth Oer was a long time in coming. We eventually stopped at a smaller, south facing bay a mile or so to the North of Porth Oer called Porth Iago. Porth Iago is a narrow bay/ inlet with a pleasant sandy beach, its Southerly aspect was important to us as a westerly breeze had built up and we wanted a sheltered, sunny spot for lunch whereas Porth Oer is North facing and "Oer" means cold in Welsh. Once we had eaten, there was time for a quick game of "Frisbee" and then off to Bardsey sound on the remainder of the ebb to help us on our way. Once again, I feel I should mention that this entire coastline is well worth much more attention than we gave. A day trip from Porth Iago or Port Oer to Aberdaron would be well worth the effort.

    We Reached the final headland of Braich y Pwll and gazed across Bardsey Sound to our goal for the first time. The ebb stream was still running strongly and we weren't sure how much we would be taken East into the sound. We had two options; the first was to head straight across to the middle of the island and allow the ebb stream to carry us to Cafn Enlli and the slipway. The second and more difficult was to make for the Western end of the island, which would involve some paddling against the tide. We naturally went for the second and more difficult option after all why make life easy! We didn't lose much ground on the first part of the crossing but as we approached the channel between the island and Maen Bugail we found it more difficult to make good progress. The yachting pilot did advise against this! However we made good use of the eddies close in to shore and the extra effort became well worth it as we paddled into still waters and past the rocky Southern shore of Bardsey. We had hoped to find a landing a little further along but our plans were scuppered, the beaches are only accessible from the sea at high water and there are treacherous rocks below. We paddled on but having paddled over 30 miles we were getting weary!

     

    We had originally hoped to sneak on to the island and do a sly bivvy sort of a thing but by this time we had arrived close to Cafn Enlli and the slipway. We were greeted by a small group of day trippers waiting for a boat to take them back to Aberdaron, so much for our "stealth" approach! We landed and started to explore the possibilities of bivvying close to, but out of sight of the lighthouse buildings when the islands "Health and Safety Officer" approached us perched importantly upon his fine tractor.
    "You can't camp on the island, we don't allow it." A short exchange followed but rules are rules. The Health and Safety Officer said we couldn't camp! He drove away leaving us to stroll solemnly back to our boats. When we got back to the slipway we found our boats nearly afloat so we started to make plans for a quick dash across Bardsey Sound to Aberdaron, we were less than amused! It was just then our luck was to change, a woman who introduced herself as the farmer approached us, she offered the barn loft for us to sleep in which was excellent news!

     

    We hurriedly unpacked our sleeping bags and food and left them in the loft above the barn, then we scrambled up Mynydd Enlli to watch the sun go down whilst helping Tom empty his bottle of whiskey. The summit of Mynydd Enlli makes a great vantage point for observing the quirks and charms of the tidal streams around the island.

    Saturday 30th March

    I got up early to have a stroll around the island taking in the bird observatory and ruins of the old abbey but it wasn't until about 11 o'clock that we left for Aberdaron. High water was at about 9.15 but slack water in Bardsey Sound doesn't occur until 2 hours after. We paddled away from Cafn Enlli to the sound of a fiddler playing, I was sad to leave Bardsey but I will return. The crossing to Aberdaron was fairly straightforeward; we were swept slightly to the West by the last of the flood but close to Pen y Cil we were carried easily into Aberdaron Bay by the new ebb stream. It is usually easier to approach Aberdaron by paddling close to Ynys Gwylan Fawr before heading for the pub as an eddy stream runs South along the Western side of Aberdaron Bay.

    Once landed at Aberdaron we sat in the sunshine drinking Guinness and eating baked spuds. and after a quick trip to the local Spar shop we headed South East towards Porth Neigwl (Hell's Mouth). Our campsite that evening would be at Porth Cerriad, which left us with fifteen miles of paddling to do in an increasing force 3-4, the sun was still shining but the beam wind was making the going a little tough

    Trwyn Cilan is a very impressive headland and forms the Eastern end of Porth Neigwl, it has several seabird colonies and interesting caves which would be well worth exploring on a calm day but we stayed at least 100 meters offshore to avoid breaking surf and clapotis. Once round Trwyn Cilan we were in Porth Cerriad.

    Porth Cerriad is not the Ideal Sea Kayakers campsite because of the high cliffs between the beach and flat ground. There is an official campsite but this is another quarter of a mile hike up the hill, so we sneaked a roughie between some gorse bushes at the top of the cliff (naughty naughty!)

    Easter Sunday 31st March

    Porth Cerriad is better known as a Surf Beach and on this particular morning there were some kayak crunching five footers dumping onto the beach, there was nothing to do but go for it, which I did twice before making it beyond the break (quite scary in a fully loaded boat)! Once beyond the break we turned North towards Llanbedrog via St Tudwalls Road . This next stretch of water provided us with more big scary waves one of which picked me up and sent me hurtling out of control towards the cliffs. My spontaneous surfing gave my compatriots much amusement whilst giving me one of those quiet hopeful moments! Once the fun and games were over and done with we simply had about a one-hour slog to Trwyn Llanbedrog with shelter and a calm finish to our amazing trip. I can heartily recommend the bacon butties here and there is a pub up the road that sells Robinson's bitter!

    I regularly contribute to the Northwest Sea Kayakers website where we regularly exchange ideas for forthcoming trips.

    Jim Krawiecki

  • Ramsey Island

    - trip report by Mark Rainsley. (illustrated)

    RAMSEY ISLAND

     
     

    Paddling at dusk.

    Enjoying the last light.

    DATE(S) OF TRIP: 14th June 2003 (springs).

    WHERE?: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, near St. Davids.

    {Map}

    LAUNCH SPOTS: We started and finished from the RNLI station at St. Justinians (SM 723 251). Carrying the sea kayaks down the steps here is a bit of a pain; a better launch point would be Whitesand's Bay, further north.

    DISTANCE/ TIME: The distance is only 5-6 miles but we spent literally hours exploring every last nook and cranny...this is recommended! We also spent two hours oon the Bitches tidal rapid...we towed playboats across for this interlude!

    LOCAL TIDES: Some of Britain's most dramatic tidal flows!

    Tides are really strong in the narrow sound between the mainland and Ramsey Island. Do not consider this trip unless you have studied the tidal flows or sought local advice. Ramsey Sound has numerous eddies, whirlies and seemingly random currents! The West side of the Island defies logic and we encountered small tide races flowing in opposite directions!

    There are numerous small tidal races around Ramsey Island and of course, the Big One - everybody has heard of the Bitches rapid which forms when the tide flows (floods) north over the volcanic rocks known as the Bitches (SM 709 236)...

    Chris Pottinger on the Bitches at dawn. The island's quay is behind.

    Chris Wheeler surfs the Bitches - a sea kayak is not recommended for this!
    (click on the picture to download it as wallpaper, 1024 x 768 resolution)

    We launched at slack water and low tide in the Sound -

    High water slack is roughly 3 hours after HW Milford Sound, and then the water starts flowing south.

    Low water slack is roughly 3.5 hours before HW Milford Sound, and then the water starts flowing north.

    BUT our experience was that the water never actually stopped flowing (ever) - and that these figures could only be taken as extremely rough guesstimates.

    Easy Tide might be useful in working out tide times.

    HAZARDS/ PROBLEMS: In addition to the extreme tidal currents described (vaguely) above, there is a particular hazard when the tide is flowing north. Halfway between St. Justinians and Ramsey Island is Horse Rock. This is usually submerged, forming strong eddy lines and whirlpools. Swimmers have drowned here. Consider a route which circumvents it.

    ROUTE TAKEN: Starting from St. Justinians...

    We paddled direct across Ramsey Sound to the small harbour beside the Bitches rocks, towing playboats behind our sea kayaks. We left the sea kayaks on the quayside on Ramsey Island and then threaded through the Bitches Rocks and headed to the southern point of the island. Rounding the tip, we encountered various small tide races.

    The west side of the island is quite amazing, densely concentrated with caves, arches and deafening sea bird colonies on the cliffs. Allow as much time as possible to explore. There is one large beach for lunch stops, Aber Mawr.

    The northern tip of the Island has the longest caves of all, in excess of 100m - consider taking a headtorch to explore.

    Re-entering Ramsey Sound, you have a choice - it is only a short paddle back across to St. Justinians. We first went back up to the Ramsey Island quay and swapped boats to play the 'Bitches'.

    EVENTS/ OBSERVATIONS: The sea bird colonies are well worth looking closely at. Seals practically obscure the route ahead on this trip...you can hear seal pups wailing from outside many caves. Be careful to check that a cave is empty before you enter!

    OTHER NOTES: Ramsey Island is an RSPB Reserve. I have wandered around the paths and tracks there on many occasions. However on this occasion, my wife was prevented from leaving the quay by a warden, as she apparently posed a 'health and safety' risk if she tried to walk alone. Draw your own conclusions...

    CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.

  • Sea kayaking festival, Cwm Pennant 2000

    - Sea kayaking festival, Cwm Pennant, 2000. Report by Richard Seaby

    Sea kayaking festival, Cwm Pennant 2000

     
    Report by Richard Seaby

     

    Are you all sitting comfortably..... then I'll begin Well it all started well, the four of us managed to get all our boats on the trailer and stuff in the car and were actually on the road for what should have been a 5 to 6 hour trip. Eleven hours later we arrived having been slowed by bad traffic and trying to tow a trailer with an uneven number of wheels.

    Friday night started with a trip to the pub (for all those who made it up in time - the M5 was shut for a while). The late comers hung around drinking beer and talking boll***s, as is the want of any group of kayakers greater than 2.

    Saturday dawned bright, and, after a short talk Dave Evans lead us off to Porthmadog (Borth-y-Gest?). Here P&H, Valley and Nigel Dennis each had a trailer load of boats to try. The most interesting where two new prototypes from P&H the x and the y (original names!), The X was a fast twitchy boat (a more extreme sirius?), with little secondary stability, I liked it, while paddling about the harbour, but I am not sure how it will handle in proper seas. Some of the people who paddled it loved its speed and manoeuvrability so maybe its me! The Y seemed a larger version of the Capella. I paddled this boat on the trip on Saturday and was very impressed. It tracked well and turned easily and was good fun to surf.

    The only other boats that I did not know there, were the Kayak Sport which valley are importing from Scandinavia somewhere. The Kayak Sport millennium was a nice boat, but it would take me a while to get use to the moveable seat and pedals.

    After lunch we paddled in 2 groups down to Criccieth. There was a nice swell coming in and a small amount of breaking waves over the bar at the mouth of the estuary. The trip down took about an hour and a half. The first group then got out or played about until the second group arrived.

     

    The plan was to then catch the minibus back to the cars and shuttle. A small group of us decided to paddle back. The group grew to about 20 by the time we headed back. This time we were against the current, so progress was somewhat slower. The most interesting part of the trip was again the estuary entrance, where there was a beautiful clean 3ft surf rolling up against the current coming out. After a bit of reassuring of some of the less experienced paddles we headed off into the surf. 15minutes (and two swimmers) of fine playing later we were through, and started the head bang back up the estuary to the cars. The trip back was about 3 and a half hours.

    That evening we had a talk by the nature warden of Bardsey which had some fine shorts of the sound and the associated run. This was followed by a video of mad Americans playing in the rock gardens, caves, gullies and blowholes found around cliffs. They spent there time surfing between the rocks before being splatted against the cliff. Life must be very dull in the US these days...

    After that there was a bonfire and beer session outside until the day's surf had reached at least 10 ft and we had all back surfed, looped broached, pole vaulted* (*delete as appropriate).

     

    Next morning we set off to a bit of beach east of Pwllheli. After annoying the locals (a convoy of cars with 50+ sea kayaks takes a while to pass, especially on single track roads with hairpin bends. We again split into two groups and paddled out to the Tudwal islands. The weather was hot with very little wind. Paddling was easy and the company good.

     

    The Tudwals were a very nice paddle - in and out of a few caves, playing spot the seal - putting the person back in their spitsbergen racing sea kayak (a demo boat). We then paddled on to a nice bay for lunch before paddling a back across the bay to a fond farewell. Total trip about 4 hours. Some people went back to Cwm Pennant for tea, showers and cake, but we headed of to look at the Tryweryn and ponder the coming winter.

     

    And that is that till next year - I will remember to service the trailer - I will remember to service the trailer - I will.....

    Ken Spurway on the water.

  • Solo circumnavigation of Anglesey

    - report by Barry Shaw.

    TRIP REPORT: Solo circumnavigation of Anglesey.

     

    by Barry Shaw
     

    Early in the year I decided I would like to try a circumnavigation of Anglesey in one hit,only thing was where to start from as there were so many different options available. I decided to do it on a 10 metre tide [Liverpool] to get as much tidal assistance as possible and after a few workings out chose Borthwen at Rhoscolyn as my starting point. September was looking good for big tides but in August whilst having a couple of weeks off from my post round, I made a spur of the moment decision to go for it. It was the 12 August and there was a a 9 metre tide, not the biggest but it would have to do. At 03.00 am I set off from my Wirral home and headed for Anglesey. The forecast was N3-4 becoming variable 2-3, that'll do for me I thought. After driving straight past the turning for Rhoscolyn at 04.45 am I had to alter my plan a little and start from Porth Dafarch, not a huge problem.

    Loaded with a bag of Bazza's homemade flapjacks, half a dozen bananas, lots of organic chocolate, masses of dried fruit which resembled a bag of small mammal droppings and nearly enough water to sink my kayak I was ready. I setoff from Porth Dafarch beach and headed straight out and round the corner for Penrhyn Mawr. As I approached Penrhyn Mawr things had already got going but not so much as to cause any problems and after a quick soaking I was soon moving north towards South Stack, staying out wide to try and make the most of the tide. Passing South Stack I noticed a definate lack of the usual puffins which I think had all gone off far out to sea by now, although there were plenty of guillemots and cormorants spectating from the rocks beneath the lighthouse, some of them diving for cover as I paddled by. After changing course for North Stack I continued to stay out wide to make best use of the tide which by now was starting to pick up more speed to help me on my way. By 06.27 am I was looking across Holyhead Bay through a slight mist to see the flashing of the Skerries lighthouse. I aimed my kayak directly between the Skerries and Carmel Head on a bearing of 40 degrees and I had already checked the ferry times to make sure I wasn't going to be mowed down by a Seacat, even so I still kept looking over my shoulder just in case. Everything was going well and it would have been a shame to spoil things so early in the game.

    Exactly one hour later I had crossed Holyhead Bay and I could really feel myself moving at a good pace now. All around Carmel Head and the Skerries the sea was very disturbed and there were white caps everywhere. I carried on paddling hard getting flung all over the place as I neared West Mouse, the first of the small islands just off the north coast. I was getting a real drenching here and this continued all the way past Cemlyn Bay and right up to Middle Mouse. It was now 08.15 am and I was passing Porth Llanlliana which I am told is the site of an old derelict boot factory. As soon as I went past it the sea became unbelievably flat calm for as far as the eye could see, so it was time to remove some of that gear I was wearing to try and cool down a bit.

    I stopped at a little cove called Porth Cynfor and put on some lighter clothes for the long day ahead. A quick flapjack and relieve the bladder and off I went again paddling like the clappers being washed along by the flooding tide towards Point Lynas where the next stage of my trip would start, a twelve mile crossing of Dulas Bay and Red Wharf bay over to Puffin Island. For this stretch I stayed way out to avoid a huge back eddy which builds up in the bay so to stay out I just kept on a bearing of 130 degrees for the next two hours. Half way across Red Wharf Bay I was pretty desperate for the toilet again so it was time to use the empty water bottle, plenty of privacy out there anyway. I'm sure it would have made interesting viewing for anyone with a telescope.

    I had hoped to get to Puffin Island for 11.30 am but I was ten minutes late and the tide had already started ebbing out of that end of the Menai Straits. I decided to stay close in to shore and paddled hard and it wasn't long before I was at Beaumaris where there was a bit of a different feeling. The water was ebbing the other way here which gave me a fantastic boost. The closer I got to Menai bridge the faster I went until it felt like I was absolutely flying along past all the moorings and then straight under Menai Bridge itself. As I headed for the Britannia Bridge there were all kinds of boils and eddies taking me from side to side and this continued for quite some time and then by 13.30 pm I was making good progress away from Britabnia Bridge up towards the other end of the Menai Straits.

    I had been picking at snacks and drinking lots of water all the way along and I was going to have to top up my water bottles pretty soon. I'd be passing Plas Menai water sports centre soon so decided to pull in there. One of the instructors showed me where the tap was and within about two minutes I was back in my kayak and on my up towards Abermenai Point. By this time the variable 2-3 had arrived which gave me a lovely westerly breeze in my face. I was now approaching one of my favourite places, Llandwyn Island. I had marked on my map an eta. of 16.00 pm and at 15.45 pm I was rounding the SW tip of the island fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.

    As I went around the corner I realised that I was no longer going to be helped by the tide and would more than likely be going against for a good stretch. I knew from previous trips that from here to Rhoscolyn would take me in the region of two hours and fifty minutes. Various people have told me that I must stay close in to shore for this stage of the trip but I decided to just dig in and paddle hard. I was starting to get a bit tired now as I had been on the water for quite a while but being able to see Rhoscolyn Beacon was giving me a target to aim for. Once more it was time to pull back the spray deck and get out the empty bottle, nice timing, just as I was in full flow what sounded like a power boat in the distance turned out to be a rescue helicopter not in the distance. Spray deck back in place and it was thumbs up to the guy sitting on the edge of the helicopter and time to crack on again. There didn't seem to be any tidal movement at all here but as I soon as I neared Rhoscolyn Beacon it was a different story. Once more the flood had started. What a fantastic feeling it was at this stage to be helped along again by the tide just when I needed it. I started to feel fresh again,It was a great psychological boost for me.

    I moved past the beacon fairly quickly and was now in the final furlong. This last stage of my journey, Rhoscolyn to Porth Dafarch, looked pretty small on my map. I felt really good now and was putting everything into my paddling as if I had only just started. About half a mile or so from Porth Dafarch I suddenly ran out of energy, I'd paced myself pretty well all day and then right at the very last leg I'd burnt myself out. I kept on going, knowing that it would only be a few more minutes and then there it was, Porth Dafarch beach. Usually when I arrive back after a day's paddling I don't want to get out of my kayak but this time it was all I wanted to do.

    As soon as I touched the sand I checked my watch. It was 19.12 pm, which meant that the 75 mile circumnavigation had taken me 13 hours 36 minutes and on a 9 metre as well. I was really pleased with the time it took but maybe I'll have another go when there's a big 10 metre tide.

    Barry Shaw.

     

     

  • Wales - Info

    Welsh Canoeing Association's website - the official Association for Wales, affiliated to the BCU.

    Bing Maps will help you find places mentioned.

    Ministry of Defense contacts for some of the military exercise areas are to be found in this discussion and this one. See also the Ministry of Defence webpages for contacts.

    Planning your first multi-day trip? Mark Rainsley's article "a Special Kind of Freedom" is essential reading.

    Broken links? Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with details.


    Kayak Trails / Route Plans / Guides to specif areas

    Inland Waterways - detailsand guides to canals and other inland waters.

    Other sites with routes / trip reports

    Sean Morley paddled round all the inhabited islands of UK in 2004 - a stunning trip, well documented here.

    Many of the bloggers have excellent pictures and write-ups of their trips - check the Other Sites page.

    Bolton Canoe Club'sis worth a look at for trip ideas.

    BITCHES PADDLING ADVICE - useful info from Canoe Wales.

    The Bitches - Whitewater Playspot - a lot of background about the Bitches.

    NWSK's web site has some reports on Welsh trips.

    Swaledale Outdoor Club has some excellent illustrated trip reports covering trips in a variety of locations.

    Song of the Paddle, although dedicated to Open Canoes, provides a useful reference to places to paddle.

    Local info

    Local Centres & Kayak Hire

    Weather & tides

    "Easy Reference Sheet" - Western England & Wales - Summary sheet with paddling speed calculators, wind speed chart, CG contact & MSI Broadcast Times, Marine VHF channels etc

    Inland Waterways - detailsand guides to canals and other inland waters. Click the "Go Boating" link for extra details. See also this link.

    Photography - The Geograph project aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland - there are some useful coastal shots.

    Bothies - the Mountain Bothies Association maintains a variety of bothies throught the UK. The UKBothies forum provides a mass of useful information.

  • Wales - Relevant Forum Threads

    The links below lead to discussions on our Community Forum

    Gower Peninsular

    Llandudno

    Anglesey - NE

    Anglesey - North coast - with pics

    Pembroke / Cardigan

    Ramsey Island - with pics

    South Stacks, nr Holyhead - with pics, and a warning about the risks from HSS's!

    Stacks - from Treaddur Bay - with pics

    The Swellies

    Wales - general paddling ideas & advice.