We were 5 on this trip: Robin, John, Martin, Felicity and me, and remarkably our 2 independent cars arrived within 1 minute of each other at the St Bees carpark at about 11:45am. I said Hello to another seakayaker in his car, and was greeted by a wall of pipesmoke when he opened his window. I drove with 5 kayaks on top to Whitehaven, and parked at a beach just North of the harbour where the C2C route starts. In the car park Robin showed us what the tide was doing in his 1” thick hardback Almanac, now summarised on his phone app.
Felicity had planned to arrive in Kendal Friday night to adjust footrests in my new 2nd seakayak, a bright green Perception Essence. But she had a party to go to so had impressively managed to get the 6:30am train from Newcastle. Named Lime, or perhaps Cabbage, she will be the seakayak for whichever family member accompanies me in future, and this was her christening.
Setting off about 1:15pm in bright sunshine, we had about 1-2 knots of current with us, but we had headwinds of at least Force 3 and a swell against us of up to 6’. We passed the ruins of an underwater coal mine on Saltom Bay and rounded the impressive St Bees cliffs, every ledge squawking with seabirds. We saw gannets, kittiwakes, puffins and others on the water, some flying very close as if to deter us.
There was a bay just South of the Headland, where we found a narrow entrance not barred by rocks, so headed in there for lunch. Felicity’s backrests had slipped, which had made the paddle so far an abs exercise for her as she did sit-ups in the boat, so I did some first aid with string. Quite a scrapey landing and exit in the surf, but we all had plastic boats so were OK. We had chatted to the 2 other seakayakers coming from St Bees, surfing the swell in their composite boats, but they wouldn’t have landed here easily.
Rounding the South Headland, the sea was confused but no overfalls, so slightly better than expected conditions. Here we practised towing and disposing of our towlines, quite tricky in a bouncing sea.
The final part of the trip was great fun, playing in the surf on the beach. There were several swimmers in the party. Seakayakers rarely wear helmets, but they are a good insurance for surf, rocky landings, aggressive seabirds, rock-hopping, exploring caves and rain.
We made it in about 5pm, after low water at 2:40pm. It had only been about a 6 mile trip but in tricky conditions. The forecast was for a Force 7 Southerly by 7 pm, but we missed that.
On both trips the Low or High tide point was not still water. The current kept flowing North at Jubilee Bridge at high tide, and kept flowing South at St Bees at low tide. I still find it difficult to get my head around this.
At the start by Whitehaven harbour