Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Macclesfield Canal - 27th March 2016

Back on the canal for a short training paddle. Clarke Lane to Bridge 18 (Adlington Marina) and back again. Out in 39 minutes, back in just over 42. Gusting southerly wind affected the times.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

River Eden - Lazonby to Armathwaite - 20th March 2016

Annual Macclesfield Canoe Club jaunt down the River Eden. 14 club members set off in the sunshine with the river at an unusually low level for this time of year.

The low level meant that many of the rapids were trickier to pick the way through, but it also meant that some waves and features were present that would have normally been washed out.

The final obstacle is the weir at Armathwaite. We normally shoot this river left, down a rocky ramp but the normally fierce drop on the right hand side was somewhat tamer than usual, so half a dozen of us opted to go down this way. I managed to get down unscathed, but a couple of our group were nearly backward looped in the hole and ended up swimming. Fine entertainment for the walkers watching from the bank.

Me shooting the weir - photo credit Alan Tonge

Monday, 14 March 2016

Cemaes Bay to Bull Bay return trip - 13th March 2016

Back on Anglesey for a 3rd sunday in a row, but with high pressure keeping the wind down and the promise of some sunshine it had to be done.

Setting off from Cemaes Bay we headed E intending to use the last couple of hours of the flood to take us along the north coast.

The bays and inlets of the north coast actually create pretty strong eddy currents, so as we picked our way along the coast we made fairly slow progress in the bays, but were whisked around the headlands as we rejoined the main flow.

This section of the coast alternates between dramatic cliffs, rocky inlets and stony beaches, peppered with the remains of Anglesey's more industrial past.

The rock-hopping is superb with many challenging passages to negotiate. With the swell being fairly small they were not too bad to get through, though the odd bigger set of waves could have meant a mistimed run resulting in some embarrassment.

There were a few gulls around who made their presence known, but the main visitors such as the razorbills and guillemots are yet to arrive.

We reached Bull Bay and had a brew and lunch on a small beach where the remains of the old lifeboat station's launch ramp can still be seen. It was a sun trap and made a nice warm change from the recent cold lunch stops of the winter.

Once the tide had turned we headed back again, picking up some turbulent conditions around the headlands, but generally making good progress.

It was nice to bump into Will, Brian and Chris who were going the other way, returning from an overnight camp.

Once packed up we had a look at the 5th century church at Llanbadrig and looked back over part of our route.

GPS tracked a route of 17 km.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Cable Bay to the Sea Zoo - 6th March 2016

I'm not a great fan of shuttles since they end up taking up a lot of time, but this one was worth it to be able to get a long and varied paddle in. We left a couple of cars at the Sea Zoo on the Menai Straits and returned to Cable Bay to launch.

Just a week before I'd headed north from the same beach, but this time we were going south, and uncharted territory for me. The planned paddle pretty much completed all the coast of Anglesey for me. I must do it as a continuous paddle one day.

A cool northerly wind greeted us as we left the shelter of the bay and the small choppy swell gave a bit of interest. We made our way round under the cliffs with the intrusive noise of the racing circuit just above us. The tide wasn't right for us to go in and paddle round the church of St Cwyfan on the island of Cribinau, so we stayed further out to sea to cut the bay off.

A tight squeeze through the channel separating Carreg-y-trai from the mainland saw us reach much more sheltered waters and a change of scenery. The coastline opened up into a broad sandy bay surrounded by low cliffs and dunes.

We passed another couple of rocky headlands and made our way over to Ynys Llanddwyn where we planned to stop for lunch and to wait for the tide to turn so we could enter the Menai Straits. I've never explored the small island before, and it is a fascinating place with its old cottages and the other buildings from the now deserted settlement.

Suitably refreshed we plotted a course across Llanddwyn bay trying to keep far enough out to not get grounded on the sandbanks. The shallow water caused a few moments of excitement as it caused the small waves to break and a circuitous route saw us enter the Straits and pass Fort Belan that guards the entrance.

The channel keeps to the southern side of the Straits so since we passed close to Caernarfon we decided to go up the river to have a look at the impressive castle built by Edward I.

With the tide now flooding into the straits we were hoping it would soon cover the sandbank that blocks direct access to the road in front of the Sea Zoo and luckily a zig-zag channel was navigable to allow us to get close to the cars.

A fine paddle of approximately 26km.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Cable Bay to Rhoscolyn round trip - 28th February 2016

For once the weather forecast looked as though we had a chance to grab a paddle in some sunshine and little wind. So four of us arranged to meet up at Cable Bay with high hopes of a pleasant paddle and perhaps a chance to clock up some fast miles.

We set off N, hugging the coast and weaving in and out of the skerries that guard the S end of the Rhosneigr bay. I must have left a fair bit of gel coat on those reefs over the years, and today was no exception as I misjudged the odd gap or didn't see submerged jagged rocks.

We picked up a bit of the cold easterly wind as we made our way across the bay, but the pleasant sunshine made up for it. We decided to have lunch at the E end of Silver Bay - a bit quieter than our planned stopping point at Rhoscolyn. Tucked out of the wind we enjoyed bacon butties and a fine cup of tea.

After a leisurely lunch we re-launched and made our way to Rhoscolyn and then out to circumnavigate the Beacon and surrounding islands. A narrow gap provided some entertainment and we were accompanied by the odd seal.

It was now time to head back, and two of us had arranged beforehand to paddle back at a reasonable pace, so we split up. As we crossed the bay we had the wonderful backdrop of the snow covered Snowdonia hills to use as transit markers to keep us on course back to Cable Bay. An hour later we were cruising into the bay and landed on the sandy beach.

As we packed up the sun was shining and lowering in the sky to the west. Seemed a shame to not enjoy it some more, so we had a quick half on the patio of the White Eagle pub in Rhoscolyn watching the sun go down casting an orange light onto the mountains.

About 18km paddled.