Sunday, 23 November 2014

Llandudno and the Great Orme - 16th November 2014

2nd day of the NWSK End of Season meet. Keen to get another paddle in, the Orme was an obvious choice being on the route home from North Wales.

Llandudno East Beach
We left the hostel in sunshine and had a quick rendezvous at the A5/A55 services to finalise the meeting point. We were worried about a car rally that was finishing in Llandudno, but when we turned up the "paddling pool" launch spot on the East Llandudno beach, there was plenty of parking.

Llandudno promenade

By the time we launched the skies had clouded over and a slight breeze chilled the air. We made our way along the beach and were watched by the crowds as we paddled under the pier.

Although the guillemots and razorbills that make this paddle special in the early summer had long gone, there was still plenty of bird life around with many Cormorants belly-flopping into the water when we approached.

We passed another group going in the other direction, and they told us of playful seals under the lighthouse, and it was not long before we picked up company.

We were rock-hopping and investigating the small caves as we made our way around under the spectacular cliffs.

Rocky landing for lunch
Lunch was taken on a rocky "beach" and we retraced our route back around the headland with an increasing wind reminding us that winter is not far away.

13km paddled.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Aberdaron to Porth Oer - 15th November 2014

First day of the NWSK "End of Season" meet staying at the Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel.

Llyn Cwellyn
Saturday dawned sunny and bright, and although quite a drive from the hostel, Kate had suggested going round the end of the Lleyn Peninsular through the Bardsey Sound.

Eight of us set off in the small surf from Aberdaron Beach and made our way towards Pen-y-Cil in increasingly bouncy conditions.

Aberdaron Beach
We passed between the small island of Carreg Ddu and the mainland - now with the waves coming from behind. We could now pass closer to the shore and dared to go through the odd small gap between rocks and the cliffs.

Bardsey Sound
Once round Braich-y-Pwll the chop had gone, and with a cleaner swell we could relax more and enjoy our surroundings.

Approaching Braich-y-Pwll
With landing spots few and far between, we took lunch at Porthorion, just short of our final destination at Porth Oer.

Jim and Chris enjoying lunch
The final stretch of rock hopping was made even more exciting when the odd freak wave came through, and we thought we might have to do a surf landing at Porth Oer, However due to the angle of the beach the waves were not bending round enough to cause any problems.

12km paddled.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Macclesfield Canal - 9th November 2014

Macclesfield Canoe Club monthly Hare and Hounds handicap race. 4 miles, time 42:17... came in last!... over 4 minutes down on my best time this year, but still taking it a bit easy because of the elbow.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Macclesfield Canal - 12th October 2014

4 miles at touring pace to test my "tennis elbow" out... still sore but don't think I'm aggravating it by paddling. Physio said if pain is measured on a scale of 1 to 10, and you are only getting to about 3 when paddling, then carry on... otherwise if I lay off completely the muscles will lose condition and I'll injure myself when I paddle again if I'm not very careful.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Cemaes Bay, Skerries, Church Bay - 21st September 2014

Another good forecast meant I was meeting up with Macclesfield Canoe Club paddlers at the A5/A55 services again to plan a day paddle on Anglesey.

Alan had suggested we go round Carmel Head, and with the tide ebbing most of the day, the obvious route was Cemaes Bay to Church Bay.

I picked up Liam (who was going for his first proper sea paddle) and with a captive audience bored him en route with tales of adventure on Anglesey and other distant locations. I mentioned that Alan had suggested Carmel Head, but raised the possibility that the Skerries - a small island a few kilometres offshore with a nice lighthouse - might be a possibility. With the required tidal planning this would be quite a commitment for Liam's first sea paddle, so I wasn't sure if Alan would fancy it. However, when we turned up at the services it didn't take long for a rather excited Alan to enquire whether I thought the Skerries were on...

The tides around Carmel Head can get up to around 6 knots in springs, but today they maxed out at just over 3 knots. Since we would be approaching the Skerries at the maximum flow of the ebb, it would necessitate us paddling in a NW direction and then letting the flow carry us west. The resultant vector should then see us safely on the Skerries.

Alan getting ready for the off
We sorted the shuttle out, dropping a car at Church Bay and were soon on the water leaving Cemaes Bay in bright sunshine and very little wind. We made steady progress on the planned track, sticking to our NW heading. My GPS was reading land speeds of over 13 kph, although we were paddling at a fairly leisurely pace. We passed well to the N of the marker buoys that start at Harry Furlough's Rocks, and the Skerries were starting to appear on a bearing just to the S of due W.

With the main flow going SW through the strait between Carmel Head and the Skerries, I wanted to get to the NE of the Skerries and then paddle straight towards them with the flow. As it turned out, we were a bit too cautious and ended up a bit far N, and we were in danger of being swept past them to the N. Some corrective action was required and some fast paddling was in order to get us back on track and we hit the N of the island in some bumpy fast moving water before making our way into the lagoon.

In the lagoon on the Skerries

A few large seals greeted us and we landed to explore the island and to have lunch. A couple of other groups of paddlers turned up, Mary in one, Bill and Royanne in the other, so it ended up quite a social gathering.
Liam enjoying the view
As we ate lunch we could look across the strait back to Anglesey and could see the small tide races that were all around the Skerries. We planned to use the remaining part of the ebb to ferry glide back across to Carmel Head and make our way down to Church Bay exploring as we go.

View back over our route to the Skerries

We launched with an hour and a half of the ebb remaining, and by this time the races around the Skerries were dying down, so we didn't have much problem paddling around the top of the island and setting off at an angle to cross back to the "mainland". Whenever I've crossed this section of water I've always seen at least one dolphin, and today was no exception. When I saw the distinctive fin I was slightly ahead of Alan and Liam so I wasn't sure if they had seen it, but I need not have worried because they were getting their own display from a couple of dolphins nearer them.

We reached the mainland and made our way down to Church Bay rock hopping as we went. By the time we reached our landing point Liam seemed pretty tired, not surprising really since he is used to drifting down rivers, but what an amazing day for his first real day out on the sea. About 21km paddled.

GPS track of our route - maybe nearly half a km too far north!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Macclesfield Canal - 14th September 2014

Club Hare and Hounds race, 4 miles, came in 7th in a time of 41:58. Didn't push it as my elbow is still sore, so only really paddling for the "attendance" points. Might be time for the physio.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Cable Bay to Rhoscolyn Beacon - 7th September 2014

My elbow is still a bit sore, but I couldn't resist a good forecast and the offer of a trip to Anglesey. So I picked up Roger and Mark, and we set off to meet the other Macc paddlers at the services on the A5/A55 junction to work out where we were going to go.

I seem to have a reputation for not liking shuttles (they are such as waste of time aren't they?...), so Alan suggested launching at Cable Bay with a there and back trip to Rhoscolyn. Although the tide was ebbing all the time it doesn't have much flow in the Rhosneigr bay, and actually eddies to give us some assistance with the outward leg.

Ready for the off at Cable Bay
Only just made it through...
Bright sunshine and a northerly breeze accompanied us all day as we explored the skerries en route to Silver Bay for lunch. With the distant hills of Snowdonia on the horizon it reminded of some of the views I had seen in Vesteralen.

Lunch stop in Silver Bay
After lunch, we rock-hopped our way to Rhoscolyn and on to the islands referred to as Rhoscolyn Beacon (because the outer island has an old beacon tower on it). We weaved in and out of the islands in the company of a number of seals and other kayakers.


Rhoscolyn Beacon
The direct route back across the bay gave a wonderful backdrop of Snowdonia providing suitable transit points to keep us on track.

Just under 20km paddled. My elbow was sore at times, but the paddle didn't seem to make it any worse and feels fine now as I write this later in the evening....