Tuesday 26 April 2011

Another day in the office

Paddling around Walney island with a group, I had the good fortune to meet this little fellow. He was curious and had a good chew of the toggle on my bow before trying to climb onto my boat. Amazing!

Galloway and Ailsa Craig

With four days off work, good weather and nothing planned, I set off in my trusty paddle waggon to see where I would end up. The Mull of Galloway looked enticing on the map, and for good measures, it was spring tides too.

I parked up at Sandhead in Luce Bay, threw a few bits and pieces in the boat and was under way in less than half an hour. Visibility was not that great...

...but the sea was lovely and calm.

As I approached the Mull, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I could hear a roaring noise from a long way off but couldn't see any frothy stuff.

I couldn't really see anything much. The GPS said I was shooting past at 20 km/hr so I guessed that I was actually in the race. It was a bit hard to tell it was so flat. Finally I found an eddy line and paddled in to the cliffs.

Loads of fantastic crinkly rocks. Just as I was thinking of moving on, I saw the flash of a paddle in the distance. As I got closer the blur resolved itself into two paddlers, and who should I bump into but Mark and Heather Rainsley. I think they were out paddling when they should have been working, but don't tell anyone! We made a very tentative plan to meet up on Ailsa Craig on Thursday and then went our own ways. In my case this was to camp at Port Logan.

Next morning I was up early and on my way, to see if I could get within striking distance of Ailsa Craig. The coastline was spectacular, loads of stripy, crinkly cliffs and plenty of birds nesting. I stopped for lunch at Port Patrick and then had a favorable tide speeding me on my way north.

I found a perfect camp spot in Lady Bay, just within Loch Ryan...

...where I could watch the ferries as I cooked my dinner.

Next day, I was up and packed early ready to set off for the 28km crossing to Ailsa Craig. Mark told me he'd be leaving Lendalfoot at 10, so I reckoned I'd leave Lady Bay at 8 and meet him there at 12. As I set off I could see the outline of Ailsa craig on the skyline but it wasn't to last. About 3km in, the mist appeared and I was on my own with just a compass course to follow. Finally about 10km from the rock, I could see it.
I arrived to find the island deserted. I thought I had been stood up. After no more than five minutes I saw paddles over the pebble bank and Mark and Heather appeared round the corner.

We explored the area around the buildings, had lunch and then set off for a circumnavigation before heading back to Lendalfoot. The cliffs on the far side of the island were spectacular, more so because every ledge had a nesting gannet in situ.

Finally, our time was up and we set off for Lendalfoot together. The crossing was soon over. Just having company made the paddling easier.

Here's a map of my route. Thanks are due to Mark and Heather for suggesting a trip to Ailsa Craig. I probably wouldn't have thought of it myself.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Ravenglass Seaquest 2011

Seaquest is a sort of cross between sea kayak racing and orienteering. This years event at Ravenglass was delayed 24hrs due to strong winds and took place in perfect conditions today. At eleven o'clock all competitors lined up besides their choice of craft ready for the off. It was certainly a broad range of boats that made their way round the three estuaries of the rivers Irt, Mite and Esk. Most were in sea kayaks, some in canoes, double kayaks, river kayaks and a single surf ski. There was also a fair contingent of Epic and Taran racing sea kayaks. The idea of the event is to navigate round as many checkpoints as possible within a three hour time limit, with points for checkpoints visited and points deducted being late back.

This years course was perhaps shorter than last time I entered, and I managed all checkpoints with about 15 minutes to spare. The distance I covered was about 21km. I was assisted somewhat by having John Bunyan just in front of me all the way round, both as a target to chase and to help find the checkpoints.

I came first in the womens sea kayak class and was also pleased to see that I was the first person to finish in a touring boat as opposed to a race boat. I think I would have been third in the mens' race too!

This was a fantastic event and thanks must go to Annette and Phil for organising it once again.

Pre-race 'which way are you going' discussion

In the Esk

Making a run for the finish

Saturday 2 April 2011

The Cumberland ring, sea pictures

Skerton weir in Lancaster, our start point for the sea section of our journey Flat calm conditions as we leave Lancaster

Hard to believe it's only March. This is Morecambe Bay.

Oystercatchers on Walney, start of day 2.

Stopped for lunch while we waited for the end of firing at Eskmeals range. Took the opportunity to eat some more scrummy Cumberland sausage

It was a tad chilly when we woke up at St Bees, perhaps it is March after all.

Cooking up Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding at Allonby

Camp fire at Allonby

Not a lot of view on the last day

Where are we going anyway?

Surfing a very small bore in the Solway

At last, in the river Eden again

River Lune

Setting out from Beckfoot, lovely weather but where's all the water?

Jim getting warmed up in preparation for the Strid

Sean very nearly cooling down on the Strid

Stangerthwaite weir

Jim spies the butty van

Big fish caught just as we passed, now who says paddlers spoil the fishing?

Finishing in Lancaster. Three of us pretty tired after three long days paddling.

Some photos of the Eden

Scandal Beck, just starting out Weir just before Appleby
Caves at Eden LacyThe classic white water section
Armathwaite weirClose to the M6, near Carlisle