Sunday, 20 June 2010
The (not) Coquet Island Race
Sunday, 6 June 2010
Pembrokeshire Coastline, Angle to Cardigan
Once we reached the far side, Pete said goodbye and turned right to paddle a short round trip and back to Angle. I turned left and headed for the exposed point of St Anne's Head. I had to keep a fair way offshore as big swell was crashing into a rocky coast, sending spray skyward. The next bit of coastline was demoralising. Waves were still big and unbenownst to me, I was paddling in an eddy, reducing my speed to a mere 4km/hr. I was heading towards the red cliffs of Gateholm Island.
After Gateholme, my speed improved and I started thinking about a place to spend the night. The map showed places with names such as Rainy Rock and Deadman's Bay, but by now I was within a stones throw of Jack Sound, the gap between Skomer and Midland Isle and the mainland, and so despite knowing that the tide would be against me, I thought I'd take a look.
Flow was swift but by sneaking up the eddies I was able to pass through Jack Sound and round Wooltack Point for a little respite at St Martin's Haven. As a tour boat spewed at least fifty passengers onto the landing stage I decided this was not the sort of place for a surreptitious wild camp and continued on to St Bride's Haven. This was more like it. A quiet beach, few people and a small patch of flat ground by a restored limekiln for my tent.
Next morning I awoke to blue sky, little wind and a choice; straight across St Bride's Bay to Ramsey or round the edge of the bay for more interesting scenery. The scenery won, and I set off towards Stack Rocks and Broad Haven.
Following the shore is definitely more fun than a crossing. You can at least be certain you are making progress, and the view changes constantly. I was in a very relaxed mood as I cruised along the back of St Brides Bay, watching the surfers at Newgale. Perhaps I was looking to the right a little too often, as all of a sudden a towering wave came out of nowhere to my left. I turned my boat to face it and paddled as fast as I could, to make it over just a second or so before it broke. The roar as is crashed was incredible and I was rather glad I was safely to seaward. Could have been interesting and once again the sea reminds me to keep alert.
From Newgale there were fantastic cliffs all the way to Ramsey Sound. Loads of arches and caves, layered rocks folded and buckled and tiny bays accessible only by kayak. As I reached Ramsey sound, an hour into the south going flow, I thought I'd have a go at getting through. The water was flat but moving fast as I eddy hopped my way towards St Justinian. Round the corner Whitesands Bay was heaving with people, so I sped on past to Porthmelgan, a small sandy beach accessible only on foot along the coastal path or from the sea. Above the beach I found the perfect campsite, complete with four legged friends.
Next morning, another beautiful day, I set off for the first time with tidal assistance. It was a good feeling being swept round St David's Head. The rest of the day was a fantastic series of cliffs, caves, arches and small bays. I went for a brief explore at Abereidi to find the 'Blue Lagoon', an old quarry, now flooded. At Strumble Head I had a choice of narrow gaps between islands or round the outside. The narrow gaps won.
After Strumble Head, I made for Fishguard Lower Town. I'd paddled a long way and felt I deserved an ice cream.
Back on the water I set off to find somewhere to spend the night, and passed some amazing rocky sculptures....
...and then found an ideal campsite.
A slaty pebble beach (boat friendly), flat grass, fresh water and ample firewood. What more could I want. A little later I had a visit from a contingent of Haverfordwest Canoe Club out for an evening paddle. I am more than a little bit jealous that they have this sort of scenery for an evening paddle.
The final day of my solo expedition was remarkable for the rock formations. Words aren't needed but here are a few pictures.
Stackpole Sea Kayak Festival
Loads of boats