Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Blackpool Illuminations - 8th October 2016

Seeing the Blackpool Illuminations from the sea is a great excuse for a night paddle with the added bonus that it is very difficult to get lost.

Six of us launched from the slip at the south end of the breakwater with about an hour of daylight remaining. Dramatic dark clouds loomed menacingly over the land, but luckily there was no rain and the clouds dissipated as we began to lose the light.

To use up a bit of time we headed out to one of the navigation buoys that was about a kilometre off the beach, This gave us a wide sweeping view of the Blackpool pleasure beach, the piers, the Tower and then in the distance the hills of the Lake District.

As darkness closed in we headed towards Central Pier and were pleased when they turned on the lights on the Tower. We carried on northwards for a couple of kilometres, then we landed on the beach for a quick snack and comfort break. Landing was mildly entertaining because we couldn't see the sandbanks and we ran out of water a couple of times getting in and out of the beach.

We made our way back south again enjoying the light show on the tower and the bright lights from the illuminations. The trolley buses that go up and down the promenade were made up with lights to make them look like trains and large ships and this was particularly effective from our viewing position.

By time we got back to the slip, the tide had gone out quite a way, so we had a long carry back to the road. The excellent evening was rounded off with some fine fish and chips at the Squires Gate chippy.

Kingsbridge Estuary - 25th September 2016

The kayaking gods were not on my side... we had planned a trip to circumnavigate Mull, but the weather was looking awful, so we decided to head south instead and go to Devon. Then on the first evening after we arrived, I did something painful to my back that severely curtailed my activities.

We stayed in Devon for a few days, but I only managed one trip in the Kingsbridge Estuary.

We launched from the lovely sandy Mill Bay beach on the east side of the estuary, opposite Salcombe town. We crossed the estuary and watched the ferry exchange groups of passengers with the sea tractor on South Sands beach.

We were curious as to the conditions on the open sea, so we headed towards the mouth of the estuary to have a look. The wind was blowing strongly from the west, and as we rounded Sharp Tor and into Stairhole Bay, we were met by heavy downblasts as the wind came over the cliffs. The tide was also trying to take us out to sea, so discretion was the better part of valour and we made a hasty retreat for the sanctuary of the estuary.

We passed the infamous Bar that guards the entrance to the natural harbour and resisted the temptation to surf the waves that were being kicked up.

We had a pleasant paddle alongside the Salcombe waterfront and into the multitude of moored boats that cover this end of the estuary.

Once clear of the moorings, the estuary widens out to give a broad vista of the rolling Devon countryside. We carried on towards Kingsbridge and hauled the boats out on a small slipway at the end of the tidal navigation.

We enjoyed our lunch in the sunshine, then retraced our steps back to Mill Bay.

18km paddled.